What a monkey! Who hasn’t been called that in the past year and a half of the pandemic – purely internally, of course. Politicians and life partners, lobbyists and virologists. As we know, monkeys are by no means what we misuse their name for, namely stupid or at least not entirely sane. The opposite is the case, as a story from the beautiful holiday island of Bali, which is now poor in tourists due to Corona, proves.
Not only do many people live there, but also many monkeys from the holidaymakers, for example the long-tailed macaques in the Sangeh Monkey Forest or around the Hindu temple Uluwatu on the southern tip of the island. Because the government has imposed a strict lockdown and no more tourists are coming into the country, the monkeys also lack their previous business basis. It went like this: vacationers fed the macaques with bananas and peanuts, and the monkeys posed on their shoulders or laps for a vacation photo.
Because this source of food has now dried up, there are increasing reports that hungry, or perhaps just bored, monkeys break into houses to steal food or other things. The Sangeh Park manager Made Mohon called for at least a limited number of tourists to be allowed back into the park, because: “The park staff still give the monkeys bananas and cassava, but obviously they want snacks from tourists.”
He ought to know what scientists have found out about the monkeys around Uluwatu Temple. The long-tailed macaques there would be more appropriately referred to as long-fingered macaques. They steal glasses, cameras or hats from holidaymakers in a targeted manner in order to then benefit from an exchange deal: food for camera or sunglasses. More experienced monkeys would have more natural produce given to them for more expensive stolen goods before they gave it back. What is the moral now? First, monkeys are enterprising. Second, vacationers are only part of the food chain.