Please please please don’t let them get what they want
A difference of 7%
We share around 93% of our DNA with our Hong Kong monkey brothers, and apparently, we are the more evolved of the two. Get yourself down to Monkey Mountain at Kam Shan Country Park on any given weekend, however, and as I noted in my previous Monkey Mountain post, you’ll no doubt start to question the facts.
Because there’s really something quite remarkable to be witnessed in the idiocy that occurs there – crisps and chocolate, peanuts and cake, all handed down or thrown from cars towards their simian recipients. What fun to feed the animals!
It’s no wonder the Hong Kong monkey population has increased to over 2000 after a decade or so in which the growth rate topped 7% a year. Nor is it surprising that with all this free food and human contact, any lingering fear of humans has been replaced by a brazen greed for tasty treats that sees plastic shopping bags torn from hands and local homes ransacked for goodies.
But it’s so very entertaining to watch their squabbles; to see them acting “just like us” with their little hands and feet. And the shrills of delight as they unwrap packets and gobble down all they can – as if they’d ever do differently. They even take the stickers off apples. How cute!
Then there are the ones with missing arms and those with mangled feet; the ones that have been hit by traffic or had their faces mauled in fights over food. Though no one seems to notice them in amongst the fun. Or the one with the plastic jelly cup stuck in its throat rubbing its neck against a lamppost. It’s all not quite so funny then.
You feel bad for the animals, sure enough. But it’s the feeling of utter futility that comes from witnessing such a collective lack of awareness that really makes you despair about the fate of the world. How so many people can demonstrate either the lack of intellectual capacity to understand why feeding these monkeys isn’t a particularly good idea, or the selfish disregard of all requests to refrain from doing so, is something I’ll never quite fathom.
But still nothing gets done
What’s equally surprising is the lack of action taken by the authorities to manage the monkey feeding problem. There are plenty of signs warning of $10,000 fines for people caught feeding the monkeys. “The feeding of wild monkeys is prohibited”, it quite clearly says. Yet with no wardens or anybody else around to prevent the monkey feeding from taking place, there’s little deterrent to stop people continuing to treat the place like some kind of monkey amusement centre each and every weekend.
The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is the department responsible for tackling what it refers to as Hong Kong’s “macaque problem”. Yet it seems pretty clear that it isn’t the monkeys that are the problem here.
The AFCD claim they have attempted to cultivate more food plants in the wild for the monkeys in order to encourage them to fend for themselves. They have also specified places where feeding of monkeys is forbidden without a permit, including Lion Rock Country Park and Kam Shan Country Park. But prohibition without enforcement is about as much use as appealing to the monkeys themselves to stop stealing food.
Since 2002, the world’s first macaque neutering programme has been introduced in the wild in Hong Kong, which has actually been largely successful in stabilising the Hong Kong monkey population. But it still all seems like a great deal of putty smeared over the real problem – as if the right of people to feed the monkeys of their locale should be one of those certain inalienable rights that simply should not be [email protected]%ked with. Since who are we, the AFCD, to deprive people of a couple of hours of Sunday afternoon fun?
But alas, it seems that until the problem – be it monkeys or idiots – is successfully sorted, there will still be macaques eating jelly, shopping bags swiped, and an extra 7% DNA still painfully hard to locate.
Related Post: See my post Monkey Mountain, Kam Shan Country Park for more Monkey Mountain info.