- POSTED: 08 Oct 2013 22:00
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The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society hopes that rehabilitation can be seen as alternative to culling as it embarks on a behavioural modification programme for monkeys so that they stay within their habitats.
SINGAPORE: A long-tailed macaque that was rehabilitated was released into the wild on Tuesday.
This is the first case for newly formed macaque rescue team, formed by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES).
ACRES hopes that rehabilitation can be seen as alternative to culling.
The macaque was found at the MacRitichie Reservoir Park in August with a shattered pelvis and serious injuries to its left leg. It took six weeks for this macaque to be nursed back to health.
Known to its rescuers as Mia, it took its first steps back into the wild on Tuesday morning.
Rescuers from ACRES were stationed at the park on Tuesday to keep an eye on her. They will then come back once a week to make sure she is eating and moving well.
It's not clear how the animal sustained its injuries but it was rescued by ACRES after members of the public called its wildlife rescue hotline.
Since the rescue team was set up a month ago, it has responded to some 30 calls - mostly from residents.
The team teaches residents how to prevent animals from entering their homes.
It also hopes to embark on a behavioural modification programme for monkeys so that they stay within their habitats.
This proposal has been submitted to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).
A spokesman for AVA said: "We recently received a proposal from ACRES to conduct behavioural modifications on nuisance-causing and aggressive monkeys. AVA is currently studying the feasibility and effectiveness of ACRES' proposal."
Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES, said: "We're not here to protect the monkeys more than the people but we're here to say that both parties must be protected. The solution must be a multi-pronged solution that addresses the residents' and public's concerns, but also addresses the monkeys' welfare."
The rescue team will target areas with bigger monkey populations.
These are areas near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Bukit Batok Nature Park, MacRitchie Reservoir, Woodlands Waterfront and Lower Peirce Reservoir.
Mr Ng said he hopes to expand the team from its current strength of two to four.
"Just last month, they've undergone training at our sanctuary in Laos about how to restrain the monkeys, how to do behavioural modification, and ultimately how to address this problem, with a solution that is long-term. They now work seven days a week to handle macaque calls to our hotline," he added.
AVA said between January and August this year, it received 1,460 complaints and feedback about monkeys. This is more than last year's 920 cases and 2011's total of 730 cases.
Over 100 of these cases this year were related to monkey aggression, such as monkeys snatching belongings and chasing pedestrians and cyclists, as well as monkeys biting, scratching, and injuring children, the elderly, and pets.
There were also other cases of monkey mischief that posed threats to public safety. For example, the AVA said that in January this year, it received feedback about a monkey that had been repeatedly dislodging glass window panes from a school chapel.
An AVA spokesman said: "AVA cannot take any chances that could compromise the health and safety of Singaporeans. We need to remain vigilant in our animal control efforts.
"To this end, we take a multi-prong approach where we work closely with relevant stakeholders such as government agencies, organisations, town councils, estate managements and animal welfare groups."
The spokesman added that AVA is of the view that sterilisation of monkeys will help to control the population and are working with NParks to study its feasibility as a long-term measure.
The spokesman pointed out that humane euthanasia is a last resort.
"We are also aware that releasing them back into the environment or forests will not resolve issues of monkey aggression, nuisance. As such, monkeys, accustomed to human food, would likely continue to venture out of the forests.
"In addition, studies have shown that monkeys cannot be easily relocated into a new location where there is a resident troop of monkeys as it may result in the 'newcomers' being driven out or killed.
"Indiscriminate release of aggressive/nuisance-causing wildlife back into the environment merely transfers the problem from one estate to the next. Relocation options are also limited in land-scarce Singapore," she noted.