Our trip to see the monkey's turned into a surprisingly eye opening experience.
The majority of the Hong Kong monkey population (around 2000 Macaques) are reported to reside here, I was interested to find out (on the Hong Wrong blog) that the Macaques are likely to be descendants of pet monkeys released into the wild in the early 20th Century (around 1920). The monkey population around Kam Shan is said to have boomed again in the 60's when a troupe of acrobats from Tibet had to abandon their monkeys in the area, as they were banned from transporting them to their next destination.
The AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) have posted warnings in the area and a hefty 10,000 HKD fine will be issued to any person found feeding the monkey's, as human feeding causes rapid population increase and will heighten their aggression towards us (especially if they think we're carrying food). Kam Shan Country park alone is 3.37km2 and the parks in the area have over 100 species of plants which the Macaques can eat, so feeding them really is unnecessary!
Here's what happened..
From the moment we arrived in the park, the signs of the problems caused by the public feeding the monkeys was prominent. As soon as you get to monkey mountain you see monkeys everywhere, lining the side of the road. As exciting as this was as we pulled up in the taxi, it did seem strange that the monkey's would be gathered on the side of the road, rather than living among the abundance of woodland in the surrounding area. However, they are accustomed to people feeding them so of course they hang around where they know they are most likely to get fed.
|The monkey's are hanging around the roads and picking up rubbish left by visitors in search food, abandoning their natural forest habitat where there is lots of growing food available to them.|
It was amazing how used to humans the monkeys seemed, as we walked towards a hiking trail the monkeys would walk right past us without so much as sparing us a glance. I did not expect to be getting so close to wild monkey's! I was reminded of the familiarity pigeons have developed towards us back in the UK.
The biggest shock came as we were making our way back to the bus stop, there was an old Chinese man sunbathing on a bench near the road with a stick in hand. He was aggressively hitting the nearby monkey's which did not appear to be causing him any bother other than their proximity.
Shocked by this man's behaviour we proceeded to cross the bridge over the road to the bus stop. When we got to the top of the steps around four or five monkey's leaped off the side of the bridge and started advancing at an alarming pace towards us, Ben had made a quick exit back down the stairs while I had stayed put in shock. The monkey's had their tail raised, fur standing on end and the one at the front began hissing. I decided on a slow, less menacing retreat from the bridge so as not to attract the attention of the already riled monkey's being attacked by the old Chinese man below.
Anyway, the monkey's did retreat and I got away, face is still in tact. Ben and I decided our lives were probably less at risk crossing the main road to the bus stop rather than back over the monkey bridge. And so we left Monkey Mountain on the 81 bus, hearts racing.
I am not writing this with the intent of putting people off visiting Monkey mountain, it really is a beautiful spot and the monkey's were friendly over all. But if you do visit please DO NOT feed the monkey's, they have plenty of food available to them but are increasingly ignoring this and becoming dependent on human feeding. Also it only encourages aggressive behaviour - this happened to us and we didn't have any food on us. Also, the more vicious they become towards us, the more people like the man with the stick will hunt them.
How to get there..
This visit was back in the Yuen Long days, so was quite a long trip for us. We took the MTR to Tai Wai (blue line) and from here took a taxi which was around a ten minute drive.
Bus no. 81 can be caught from several stops along Nathan Road and leaves you right outside the park. We caught this bus to Mong Kok after and it took around 15 minutes.