Brunei can have new source of revenue with monkey sanctuaries

WHEN I visited Tasek Lama Recreational Park and Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park once with hardly anyone else around, the monkeys had a field day dominating the parking areas, jogging trails or whatever available facilities.

Those macaques converging must have comprised a few generations – grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren – all thoroughly enjoying their freedom to do whatever they wanted with minimum human interference.

They would leisurely roam the parking lots, rest on top of vehicles or rummage garbage bins.

These small common primates, from the oldest to the smallest, would even go as far as performing all kinds of somersaults from tree branches and taking turns to splash into the clear cooling stream – which is a sight to behold!

I have never seen such talented monkeys in real life, except maybe on documentaries.

However, these monkeys can also be a nuisance as we’ve heard and read how they would intrude not only into people’s backyards and kitchens, but also into the patients’ ward of a hospital!

At commercial areas near jungles, we would regularly see these little critters eyeing for shopping trolleys filled up with groceries.

Not too long ago while having lunch at Batu Satu near the capital, my friends and I saw several monkeys wandering on the five foot way.

We were shocked and then delightfully surprised when we saw dogs playing with them.

While these wild friendly primates are the few exceptions, the rest can be considered as pest.

In Australia, the kangaroos and koalas being overpopulated in certain regions – thus considered as pests – are controversially culled.

Controversial because these two mammals are intricately associated with the country and are a major tourist drawcard.

Reasons given for their explosion in populations over recent decades were due in part to the near disappearance of these animals’ main natural predator, the dingo or wild dog, and declines in traditional Indigenous hunting.

Here in Brunei, the overpopulation of the macaques could also be due to the same reason as above: the near disappearance of the monkey’s main natural predator, such as the Clouded leopard and the Borneo bay cat, and declines in traditional hunting by Borneo’s indigenous tribes.

It would presumably be a massive challenge to reintroduce these elusive – perhaps endangered – Borneo wild cats into the jungles around the capital or to get the indigenous people to hunt (and eat) the macaques again.

Therefore, I suggest two solutions. Firstly, certain authorities can start culling the monkeys as what have been done to stray dogs.

Secondly, these monkeys can be trapped, captured and relocated away from urban, densely populated and residential areas.

In my mind, the interiors of Belait, Tutong or Temburong districts would be ideal.

Create monkey sanctuaries within the existing forest reserves and national park in these areas.

These can be Brunei’s new tourist attraction which will in turn translate into a new source of revenue for the country.

– No Monkey Business