Bali is seeing an uptick in monkey business amid its COVID-19 shutdown.
Due to the loss of tourist business on the Indonesian island, hundreds of hungry macaques who used to get snacks from visitors are resorting to raiding the homes of villagers for food.
Villagers now pay a daily bounty in fruit, peanuts and other food to prevent a potentially violent invasion from the about 600 primates who live in a sanctuary just 500 yards away.
“We are afraid that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and vicious,” local Saskara Gustu Alit told The Associated Press.
International travel to Bali was banned in July. The resort island’s economy is dominated by the 5 million tourists it receives annually, including 6,000 visitors a month at the Sangeh Monkey Forest, which has also closed to the public in July.
Under ordinary circumstances, the monkeys are tame and interact with visitors in the popular protected forest area.
Now, the animals have lost out on the extra bites from visitors, and the sanctuary is running low on its own funds to supply them with food, according to operations manager Made Mohon.
“This prolonged pandemic is beyond our expectations,” Mohon said. “Food for monkeys has become a problem.”
Food costs for the omnivores runs about $60 a day, Mohon said, for 440 pounds of cassava, the monkeys’ staple food, and 22 pounds of bananas.
Villagers said that monkeys are known to wander into the village and snatch things, such as daily religious food offerings.
“A few days ago I attended a traditional ceremony at a temple near the Sangeh forest,” Gustu Alit said. “When I parked my car and took out two plastic bags containing food and flowers as offerings, two monkeys suddenly appeared and grabbed it all and ran into the forest very fast.”
Another major concern is that the monkeys are simply bored, having lost thousands of playmates now that tourists are gone.
“That’s why I have urged villagers here to come to the forest to play with the monkeys and offer them food,” Alit said. “I think they need to interact with humans as often as possible so that they do not go wild.”
With Post wires