Just like the elephants, monkeys seem to be everywhere throughout Asia and I have seem them in the wild in pretty much in every country I have visited up to this point (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia). Monkeys are also regarded as sacred, just as the elephants are, so it is appropriate that they get a chapter of their own. However, this is not as in depth as the elephant chapter was and it is mostly photos and videos. I did not research the monkey world so extensively, but sharing a little glimpse of their behavior I think will be enjoyable for everyone.
PRIMATES at PLAY
While I have seen monkeys all over the place, there have been a few places in particular where I have had more interaction with the monkeys so I am highlighting the top three spots. To sum up monkey behavior from what I have observed, they pretty much just spend their days eating, sleeping, playing, reproducing, and grooming each other.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Monkey troops were running around the temple grounds and surrounding forests the entire time. They were absolutely fearless when it came to humans and approached them to grab bags and steal food whenever they anyone got too close; the monkeys were acting as if the visitors’ food and drinks belonged to them. They made the temple ruins their home and playground, climbing up the walls, bouncing across the rooftops, and banging on whatever loud construction materials they could find on the buildings.
Video – Meandering Monkey in Angkor Wat in Cambodia [15 seconds]: http://youtu.be/wrsMvaVDzow
Mt. Batur in Bali (Indonesia)
Near the top of Mt. Batur, the volcano I climbed for the sunrise hike in Bali, the wild monkeys also demonstrated casual comfort with humans. Some visitors were trying to feed the monkeys, which the monkeys were pretty excited about, but other than that, no had no interest in humans and went about their own business as usual, not caring one way ot the other about the large audience they had.
Video – Wild Young Monkeys on Mt. Batur in Bali [49 seconds]: http://youtu.be/1ob9Y7Pdtnk
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)
This was the ultimate “monkey experience” as this is a large protected area where visitors are allowed daily so the monkeys have become accustomed to humans and are not usually bothered by them. While it is advised not to touch the monkeys or try to pet them or pick them up (as they can become aggressive if they feel threatened), if a monkey decides to approach or climb on a person, that is perfectly fine. There were guides inside monitoring the interaction between the monkeys and people in order to ensure that both sides felt safe and were being respected.
For information regarding monkeys and their habits, I took a picture of a sign inside and just copied everything exactly from the sign and wrote it below:
BALINESE LONG TAIL MONKEY
The population of the Balinese long tailed monkey — in English called macaque (Macaca fascicularis) — in Monkey Forest Ubud is about 600 monkeys. They are divided into 5 groups: Temple, Michelin, East, Central, and Cemetery, with different home range group. (In other words, the groups of monkeys each live in and defend a specific territory.) Each group may contain 100-120 monkeys consisting of: infant, juvenile 1, juvenile 2, sub adult male, adult female, and adult male.
Macaca fascicularis is active during daylight and rests during the night. The sexual maturities of males is age 4-5 years and in females about 3-5 years. The beginning of female menstruation is at the age of 2-3 years. The menstruation period is about every 28-31 days and lasts 2-7 days.
Females monkeys are pregnant for nearly 6 months and usually have only one infant, rarely twins. Infants stay with their mothers for about 10 months, receiving breast milk for the first 6 months, then, at 6 months, they start learning to eat other foods as well.
The average weight for females is 2.5 kg to 5.7 kg, and the males are 3.5 kg to 8 kg. Sometimes their weight can reach up to 11 kg. The lifespan of males is up to 15 years; for females, it can be up to 20 years.
The long tailed macaques are omnivores. In the Monkey Forest Ubud, the main food of the monkeys is sweet potato, given 3 times a day, and combined with banana, papaya leaf, corn, cucumber, coconut, and other local fruit. (They also eat the bugs they pick off of their furry friends during the never-ending grooming sessions.)
Video – Feeding Monkey on a Bench at Sacred Monkey Forest [14 seconds]: http://youtu.be/BXAqiIvc8Yc
*Monkeys Grooming Each Other*
Video – Monkey Grooming at Sacred Monkey Forest [31 seconds]: http://youtu.be/N-2YGgF8xFw
*Monkey Babies and Mommas*
*Monkeys Just Chillin’ Out*
Video – Monkey Troop at Sacred Monkey Forest [1 minute]: http://youtu.be/QB4HSWldRR4
*Monkeys and Humans*
Video – Monkeys Playing Around (and on me!) at Sacred Monkey Forest [1 minute]: http://youtu.be/j8kw_0Ys8yE
TRAVEL TIP: Monkeys can be quite the little thieves so if you ever find yourself in close quarters with free monkeys, remove and secure anything loose or shiny on your person such as sunglasses, hats, watches, jewelry, etc. Keep your bags and purses closed tightly and don’t tempt the monkeys. If you have food in your bag or in your hand, don’t expect to have it for very long–they will find it and take it from you. And if you try to hang on to your stuff to prevent them from stealing from you, they will bite you. Just let it go. Also, do not look a monkey in the eyes as eye contact is a sign of aggression and the monkey will take it as a threat and go ballistic–maybe on you. You probably don’t want that to happen…