BLOG – Hong Kong’s Feral Monkey Problem

Macaques are common in Hong Kong – there are around 1,965 wild monkeys in the territory and most are found in Kam Shan Country Park. Having become accustomed to interacting with humans, the population have moved further into nearby Tai Wai, terrifying residents and vandalising homes…

The Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) and Long-tailed Macaques are probable descendants of pets released in the 1920s. First spotted in 1819, the original population of native monkeys likely died out due to habitat destruction and over-hunting.

HKUST researchers also found that some macaques were released around 1913 in the hope they would eat toxic strychnos plants found around the newly opened Kowloon Reservoir. Concerned the plants would poison the water supply, an unknown party released the monkeys thinking they would consume the plants.

The population was said to have boomed again in the 1960s after a Tibetan acrobat troupe were forced to release their monkeys having been banned from transporting them to their next destination.

Their food includes leaves, fruits, insects and small animals, though many troops have become scavengers and visitors often encourage such behaviour by illegally feeding them…

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Since 2006, around 38 animals traps have been discovered in the park along with dead feral monkeys injured by sharp objects and loop traps. Around 300 wild monkeys have been hunted and killed since 2009 for resale in the mainland. The myth that such meat is nutritious has been rebuked by the president of the Hong Kong Chinese Herbalists Association.

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via besudesuabroad blog

Anyone found hunting or willingly disturbing wild animals in HK is liable to a fine of HK$100,000 and one year in jail. Despite the potentially heavy penalty, 53 people were convicted for feeding monkeys in 2011. 48 convictions were recorded in the first half of 2012…

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To control wild monkey population growth, the government launched a large-scale contraceptive programme in 2007..

In an elaborate ruse involving food bait, trapped monkeys were sedated and given chemical vasectomies…

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Females were given a vaccine to prevent pregnancy, but this method was only effective for five years so in 2009, a permanent surgical method was trialled…

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The population has dropped 15% since 2008.