Public advised to avoid approaching, taunting monkeys following viral video of student retrieving bag
SINGAPORE: Members of the public have been cautioned to avoid approaching or taunting monkeys if they encounter the primates in public.
The Raffles’ Banded Langurs (RBL) Working Group - named after a critically endangered monkey that is only found in Singapore's Central Catchment Nature Reserve - issued these guidelines on Wednesday (Feb 9).
The advice comes in the wake of a video, shared widely on social media, that showed a student attempting to retrieve his belongings from two macaques.
In the video, which was first uploaded to TikTok, the student is seen speaking to the monkeys and asking them to return his bag and file. Screams could also be heard as he attempts to approach them but is chased away.
The teenager finally manages to retrieve his belongings before sprinting off.
The RBL Working Group said in a Facebook post that people should be aware of their surroundings especially in areas where there are monkeys.
“Look around so that in the event that a monkey is in your path, you and the monkey can have sufficient time to avoid each other,” said the group.
Members of the public should also never walk through a group of monkeys. Take an alternative route, walk around them or wait until they have moved off if possible.
If you are carrying items, hold them close to and high on your chest. Food and drinks must be stored away or kept out of sight immediately.
“Do your best not to scream, run or make any sudden movement,” added the group.
People are advised to forgo edible items if they are taken by a monkey.
For important non-edible items, the group said it is vital that people do not try to snatch or retrieve their belongings. They should also not taunt or approach the monkey.
The group advised keeping two to three metres from the animal.
“The monkey will eventually drop the items if they are inedible. Trust the primatologists. And be patient.
“Please do not imitate what the student did in the video. It is fortunate that no one was harmed in the incident, but it will not always end like that,” the group warned.
The National Parks Board (NParks) said in a separate advisory on its website that monkeys may be drawn out of the forest to seek food or explore as they are “innately curious”.
Sudden movements, direct eye contact, as well as turning away and running is discouraged.
Instead, individuals should remain calm and quiet before looking away and backing off slowly. Conceal or discard any object that may be attracting the monkeys and do not try to hit the animals, said NParks.
“If you have a child with you, put him/her on your shoulders. This will increase your perceived size, which could deter the monkeys from approaching you and your child,” it added.