Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Episode1: In a Monkey Business
- Macaque Monkeys [~10 individuals],
- Swallow (Balinsasayaw) & Nests [1 bird, several nests]
Adventure - Hiking, Caving
My first story is a pretty modest one - it's about Macaque Monkeys in Calatrava, Negros!
The monkeys in the sanctuary (in Sitio Paitan) although seemingly tame and friendly - are actually wild. This is not an endangered species – but this little story has a message for us all.
One of the 2 clans living in the area developed a "culture" of interacting with people passing thru the road to get food and even water. The other clan, as we were told, remained wild and distant to humans.
Over the years, the first clan had experienced a population decline due to "kidnapping" (as how the locals would say it), and even road accidents.
Based on our assessment – it seems like the root cause of the decline is attributed (generally) to one thing – interaction with humans!
Feeding wild animals (birds, monkeys, etc..) alters their social behavior and feeding patterns. People have good intentions to ‘help’ but normally will introduce problems. Monkeys in the sanctuary should learn how to forage in the forest, spread plant seeds (thru their deposits), and stay away from humans to help prevent transfer of disease. We may prefer them to be ‘tourist-friendly’ but that’s not the way to really protect them.
We think that the primary reason why some of them were snatched is due to their friendly behavior. They can easily be snatched, or lured by food, hopping in a van or car, and ending up in a cage somewhere.
We can help save, not just these monkeys in Calatrava, but any other wild animals – by avoiding too much interaction, and avoiding giving food or water. If animals pass on the behavior to their offspring, the next generation may not develop the right skills to hunt and scavenge for their own food.
They are born to be wild, so - LET THEM BE WILD!! :)
Feeding animals is a form of human intervention. Generally, the first approach in conservation is ‘natural rehabilitation’ – w/c simply means, allowing nature to heal itself.
My travel in New Zealand and Palau confirmed this best approach in conservation. In Kiwiland, they close down a particular island for it to recover from bird population decline, or habitat degradation, etc., and only researchers are allowed to enter the area (for monitoring purposes). Palau has taken a more extreme approach – they occupy around a half of their territory, closed down the other part, then in 20 or 50 years (I forgot), they will move the entire population (now ~21k) and even infrastructure to the preserved area and allow the now-occupied land to recover and rehabilitate itself.
Of course human intervention (such as tree-planting, breeding in captivity and re-introduction, etc.) is necessary if nature is unable to heal itself fast or properly. A case could be: a significant mountain area with 90% deforestation coupled by erosion.