Feeding bans and neutering schemes are for the welfare of wild monkeys
I refer to the letter from Peter A. Tanner ('Patrols can curb feeding of monkeys', July 18).
Human feeding of monkeys has resulted in unnatural growth in their population. To help them revert to the countryside for natural food, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has prohibited the feeding of wild monkeys in the concerned country parks such as Lion Rock, Kam Shan and Shing Mun under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) since 1999.
Anyone contravening the feeding restriction is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 upon conviction. Notices are placed at various locations to remind the public not to feed wild monkeys.
To enforce the ban, the department arranges daily patrols in the concerned areas.
Special operations are also conducted jointly with the police over weekends and public holidays to step up enforcement efforts. Last year, 104 people were prosecuted for unauthorised feeding of wild monkeys.
Special feeding permits were issued to 66 habitual feeders when the ban came into force with an aim of phasing out human feeding in the country parks, as well as to give compassionate consideration to those regular feeders, most of whom are elderly. The permit holders are allowed to continue feeding monkeys subject to a set of specific conditions. As the permits are not transferable and no new applications will be accepted, the number of holders of the special permits has been reduced to 11.
Vehicle access to Golden Hill Road is restricted on Sundays and public holidays. Police will follow up unauthorised entries.
To manage the growth of the wild monkey population in the long run, the department has been conducting small-scale field trial programmes of catching, and conducting contraceptive and neutering treatmentz for them since 2002. To date, around 70 per cent of wild monkeys have received the treatment.
With the implementation of both the feeding ban and the contraceptive or neutering programme, we observed that there is a decreasing trend in the population of wild monkeys as well as fewer wild monkey nuisance cases.
These various initiatives are aimed at providing a sustainable and practical solution to the problems caused by wild monkeys so that they can co-exist with people while at the same time ensuring the animals' welfare is also addressed.
Cheung Ka-shing, wetland and fauna conservation officer, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department