Monkey business: If you can’t beat ’em it’s best to live with ’em, says Sabah Wildlife chief

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife officials hope that people can find ways to live in harmony with monkeys, in view of the increasing presence of these animals especially in the city.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said although its job of catching monkeys or chasing them away from homes and farms dates back decades, there is an increase in reports of human encounters with the animals.

“It could be due to development. The movement control orders have also seen more people staying at home instead of being out and about,” he said on Monday (Aug 2).

He added that it has become a daily routine for the department’s rangers to chase, trap and send monkeys further away from residential areas in Beaufort, Tuaran and many other places.

“Sometimes, we get reports of monkeys sneaking into people’s backyards, eating their plants and fruits, while some even steal food inside houses,” Tuuga said.

He said even in the city at downtown Bandaran Berjaya, shop owners and tenants are complaining of nuisances caused by monkeys, as there is a small jungle nearby.

He said to prevent monkeys from going into their backyards and homes, people can consider not planting fruit trees that monkeys love, and making sure their windows and doors are closed.

These measures may be troublesome, he added, but would be worth it if theyh did not want monkeys to keep disrupting their lives or stealing their food.

“Maybe this is the easiest way to coexist with monkeys,” he suggested.

He also said that since monkeys pose an extremely low threat to human safety, the department has found no reason to deliberately trap and kill the animals.

A resident in Penampang, who always has monkeys watching from the treetops near her house, said she reared dogs to keep the monkeys away.

“I also installed window and door grilles to prevent them from coming in, but will not resort to poisoning them,” said Nozilla Mijoh, 62.

Residents in Beaufort said they are used to having monkeys coming near their properties, up to the point where they are now like “friends”.

Aishah Abdullah, 80, of Kg Luagan, said monkeys have been coming into her village for as long as she can remember.

She said her fruit trees are always “taken care of” by the monkeys, as they would come and eat the fruits even before they ripened.

“We used to have dogs to chase away the monkeys a long time ago, but now the dogs around here have also become friends with the monkeys,” she said.

Aishah said though these monkeys could be a nuisance and sometimes entered her home, tasting food, breaking jars, opening her sugar and salt containers and spilling flour, they have never hurt her or anyone in her family.

“I don’t know… I have given up chasing them away for good or calling wildlife rangers to trap them because they just keep coming back.

“So I guess the only way is to let them be and only chase them as they come,” she said.