No monkeys from Bali’s Sangeh attacked nearby residents, caretaker says

File photo of a monkey at Uluwatu temple in Bali. Photo: Pixabay
File photo of a monkey at Uluwatu temple in Bali. Photo: Pixabay

The primary inhabitants of Sangeh Monkey Forest have not attacked any residents in the area, the facility’s operations manager said, as details from a recent report about the monkeys appear to have been lost in translation. 

“Up until now, no local residents have been attacked. People around here believe that the monkeys are actually sacred,” Sangeh Monkey Forest’s operations manager Made Mohon said yesterday. 

Mohon also stressed that any reports of the monkeys attacking residents in the area are “false.” 

The comments came following an article published by Associated Press (AP) on Saturday, which reported that Sangeh’s monkeys are raiding villagers’ homes in search of food, as tasty bites brought in by tourists before the coronavirus outbreak no longer make up their diet.

While AP’s report suggested that the monkeys have ventured out from the sanctuary and into residential areas, which have led to some concerns among the villagers, there is no explicit mention of the long-tailed macaques having attacked anyone thus far. 

However, in their reports based on AP’s coverage, local media outlets appear to have mistranslated the word “raid,” which would contextually mean taking something quickly and illicitly in this case, and directly translated it into “serangan” (the Indonesian word for attack/assault).

What’s certain is that Sangeh’s monkeys have been facing the threat of going hungry for a while now.

Mohon also said that some monkeys have been known to enter villagers’ homes even before the pandemic. In addition, the monkeys may have become more aggressive due to the lack of visitors with whom they would have normally interacted.

The Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) protocol in Indonesia has added another pressure for many tourist attractions struggling amid the pandemic, including Sangeh Monkey Forest, as they are unable to open to the public. Providing food for the monkeys, even with donations from local residents, has been more than a challenge for the caretakers. 

Mohon said that feed expenses for the monkeys can reach up to IDR30 million (US$2,100) per month. 

“We are very much hoping for some easing [of restrictions] so we can get income [from visitors] to spend on [the monkeys’] food,” he said.

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