Helping wild monkeys get back to nature
I refer to the letter by Elizabeth Hutton and Rachel Stern headlined 'Department must enforce monkey-feeding ban' (Sunday Morning Post, April 28).
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) shares their concern over the aggressiveness of wild monkeys in Kam Shan Country Park and agrees the primary cause of this problem is human rather than animal behaviour.
To resolve the problem, on July 30, 1999, the AFCD launched a ban on feeding wild monkeys in a number of places including Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun country parks, and Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. The aims are to help the monkeys revert to their natural state of foraging for food in woodland areas, so that they no longer rely on food provided by people and, in the long term, to check the unnatural growth of the monkey population.
In order to help the wild monkeys make the transition, more fruit trees have been planted in these country parks to provide natural food. Also, as an interim measure in 1999, 66 experienced feeders (now reduced to 36) were given special permits to feed the monkeys at specified locations. They will eventually be phased out. Frequent patrols of AFCD wardens have been deployed to enforce the feeding ban. The results of the ban have been encouraging. There was a 29 per cent drop of complaints of monkey nuisance in the 12 months after the ban was implemented. Up to the end of 2001, advice was given to 13,813 country park visitors intending to feed monkeys; 40 written warnings were issued to people found feeding monkeys for a second time and four repeated violators were prosecuted. We are stepping up enforcement work.
Public cooperation is crucial to make the feeding ban a success. We have mounted education activities to remind the public of the ban. Large banners and notices are posted in the country parks concerned, informing people of the feeding ban. At the Shing Mun Country Park visitor centre, display boards are mounted to let visitors learn more about what to do when encountering monkeys. A vehicle with a public address system has also been deployed to raise the awareness of country park visitors not to feed wild monkeys. Pamphlets are also distributed.
I appeal to the public not to feed wild monkeys.
J. K. CHAN
for Director of Agriculture,