News: More macaques sighted near new housing project in Punggol

Jan 18, 2021

Residents attribute this to the increase in development within the area and to food left by humans. A person caught feeding monkeys faces fines of up to $5,000 for a first offence under the Wildlife Act, with the amount doubled for repeat offenders.

While Punggol residents are used to seeing a small number of monkeys within their area, they noticed that the number of long-tailed macaques gathering near the upcoming Waterway Sunrise 1 development have grown.

Residents attribute this to the increase in development within the area and to food left by humans, reported TODAY.

Long-time Punggol resident Neil Humphreys said there used to be a small forest around that part of Punggol, but has since shrunk to make way for development.

The 46-year old author, who has lived in Punggol for around 10 years, shared that he has not seen a single macaque during his regular exercise along the park connector network running opposite Coney Island until about 18 months ago.

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“Now I’ve seen them on almost every single trip, and the numbers are going up,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

TODAY spotted over 20 macaques when it visited the location on 15 January (Friday), with some holding beer cans and bags of food.

Most of the 10 park connector users and Punggol residents that TODAY spoke to did not mind the presence of macaques.

One resident, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Tay, said they are interested to see them.

“We are glad the kids get to see animals and nature. That’s why we like Punggol and the waterway,” said the 33-year-old mother of two young children as quoted by TODAY.

William Wee, a 62-year-old retiree, said the macaques have a right to exist and are part of nature. He added that people only need to be respectful, noting that the macaques “don’t disturb anyone”.

However, some expressed concerns on potential human-wildlife conflict.

Analyst Andy Sng said there is a blindspot where the macaques gather and he is worried that speeding cyclist may collide into them.

A 37-year-old mother, who wished to be known only as Shi Hui, is also concerned of children getting attacked by monkeys.

And while no incidents have been recorded so far, Humphreys said it only takes “one kid or adult to get knocked over or bitten” to see calls for the monkeys to be culled.

However, taking drastic action would be unfair, said Humphreys, given that the monkeys have nowhere to go since they have already been pushed to the edge.

“If we’re going to have a city in nature, we’re going to have to learn how to balance this,” he added.

National Parks Board Group Director of Wildlife Management Dr Adrian Loo said the macaques were likely from Coney Island.

Suggested read: Should We Be Clearing Forests for Residential Use?

“Where necessary, NParks carries out monkey guarding with the aim of guiding the macaques away from residential areas towards the forested areas. Monkey guarding involves blocking the approach of monkeys and herding them towards the forested areas,” he said.

He explained that long-tailed macaques have adequate food sources within their natural habitats. As such, they do not need food from humans to survive.

Issues between humans and macaques often arise when such animals are fed by members of the public or are attracted by easy access to food, said Dr Loo.

With this, NParks advised the public against feeding the macaques in order that the agency’s macaque management efforts may be effective.

A person caught feeding monkeys faces fines of up to $5,000 for a first offence under the Wildlife Act, with the amount doubled for repeat offenders.

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