In the absence of tourists, Bali monkeys raid houses and fear they will turn violent

Deprived of their preferred food source – the bananas, peanuts and other treats given to them by tourists now absent due to the pandemic, the hungry monkeys from the tourist island of Bali They have resorted to entering the homes of the inhabitants in search of something tasty.

Villagers in Sangeh say the long-tailed gray macaques have been venturing outside a sanctuary some 500 meters away from their village to hang out on its rooftops and wait for the right moment to pounce and grab a snack.

Concerned that sporadic departures will increase until they become a total attack of monkeys against the town, the inhabitants have been carrying fruit, peanuts, and other foods to the Sangeh Monkey Forest to try to appease them.

The monkeys are deprived of eating the bananas, peanuts and other goodies that tourists brought. (AP Photo / Firdia Lisnawati)

The threat of becoming violent

“We fear that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and violent” said villager Saskara Gustu Alit.

Around 600 macaques live in the wooded sanctuary, swaying in the towering nutmeg trees and hopping around the famous temple. Pura Bukit Sari. They are considered sacred.

In normal times, the protected jungle area in the southeast of the Indonesian island is popular with local residents for taking wedding photos, as well as with international visitors. Relatively tame monkeys can easily be persuaded to sit on someone’s shoulder or lap in exchange for a peanut or two.

A worker feeds the macaques in the Sangeh Monkey Forest on Sangeh, Bali island. (AP Photo / Firdia Lisnawati)

A worker feeds the macaques in the Sangeh Monkey Forest on Sangeh, Bali island. (AP Photo / Firdia Lisnawati)

Tourism is typically the main source of income for Bali’s 4 million inhabitants, who received more than 5 million foreign visitors a year before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sangeh Monkey Forest used to have about 6,000 monthly visitors, but as the pandemic spread last year and international travel dropped dramatically, that number dropped to about 500.

Since July, when Indonesia banned all foreign travelers from the island and also closed the sanctuary to local residents, no one has visited.

Gustu Alit theorizes that, rather than being hungry, the macaques get bored, since under normal conditions they would spend the whole day interacting with visitors, stealing glasses and water bottles, throwing away clothing and sitting on the shoulders.

“That is why I have urged the villagers here to come to the forest to play with the monkeys and offer them food,” he says. “I think they need to interact with humans as often as possible so they don’t go wild.”

In times open to tourism, the island of Bali was promoted as a Hindu oasis in Indonesia, one of the countries with the largest number of Muslim inhabitants in the world. Bali is known as the island of the gods, and it is not an exaggeration. Located in the westernmost part of the Sonda archipelago, its beaches and landscapes make it a desired destination, according to National Geographic.

Its small extension is not a problem to find temples, volcanoes and deep rice fields, as well as a curious sensitivity to create beautiful things, almost as if it were a social mandate and that is manifested in ceremonies, crafts and even in its delicious local gastronomy.

With AP information