Closer monitoring of road could help curb illegal feeding of wild monkeys

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am


Section 6 of the MacLehose Trail runs through Kam Shan and Shing Mun country parks. It is known for its beautiful scenery and large population of wild monkeys.

Following problems when people were injured by aggressive monkeys, a report was issued that found such problems were related to the animals being fed.

To stop the problem from getting worse, the government issued the Prohibition of Feeding of Wild Animals Notice in 1999, with a fine of HK$10,000 for anyone found guilty of breaking the regulations.

On a recent hiking trip to this part of the MacLehose Trail, it was clear some visitors were still involved in illegal feeding of these animals. They came in air-conditioned vehicles, and the monkeys converged in huge numbers on the road.

The animals had to be aggressive to get the food. They were hissing and fighting, and the whole scene created a problem for hikers, especially those with small children, trying to get past. If more publicity was given to convictions for illegal feeding, the selfish occupants of these cars might think twice about breaking the law. Clearly, there is a lack of policy enforcement on the part of the authorities.

The typical excuse is that there is a lack of resources, but the job requires minimal effort and could be covered by fines for convictions. Kam Shan Road is barely five kilometres long. The presence of a single patrol car would act as an effective deterrent.

During my trip, I also noticed several monkeys had an amputated upper limb, and suddenly I had a horrible thought - maybe their hands were crushed by closing electric windows when the poor things tried to grab food from the car occupants.

Peter Lau Wing-kee, Pok Fu Lam