We thank the contributors of recent letters on the human-monkey conflict, which reflect differing sentiments on how such conflicts could be managed ("Do more to curb monkey population" by Mr Han Cheng Fong, Oct 23; "Impose heavier fines on feeders" by Miss Wong Shiying, Oct 31; "Tough to coexist with monkeys" by Ms Fong Hang Yin and "Educate public on consequences of feeding monkeys" by Ms Valarie Lai Zi Qing, both in Forum Online, Oct 31; "Think outside the box to solve monkey problem" by Mr Patrick Low; Forum Online, Nov 4; "Minimise contact between monkeys and humans" by Ms Ada Chan Siew Foen, Forum Online, Nov 11; and "Culling the only solution - for now" by Davene Lye, Nov 13).
While some believe more direct forms of management via population control, such as culling, should be adopted, others prefer a longer-term approach of education and greater public awareness on co-existing with monkeys.
The management of human-animal conflict is a complex issue. We must acknowledge the differing views and work together to find appropriate and feasible solutions for both the short and longer term.
In managing human-animal conflicts, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority's (AVA) priority is to ensure public safety and public health are not compromised.
Monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are transmissible to humans and harmful to our health.
We have received feedback on monkey nuisance and aggression. For feedback on aggression, the AVA would take immediate action to prevent further threats to public safety.
For instance, earlier this year, a monkey repeatedly dislodged glass window panes from a school chapel. Fortunately, no one was injured. In September, a monkey entered a condominium unit and injured an infant. In both cases, the AVA carried out surveillance and targeted control operations upon receiving the feedback.
Residents, too, can play their part by making their premises less attractive to monkeys. Simple immediate actions, such as keeping food out of sight and practising good refuse management by disposing of garbage in bins with secured lids, can be practised.
The AVA is also working with the National Parks Board to study the feasibility of sterilisation as a long-term measure to manage the monkey population.
However, irresponsible monkey-feeding by some people remains a problem. It alters the behaviour of monkeys, resulting in them venturing out of their natural habitats in search of human food sources. The monkeys rummage through rubbish bins and boldly approach humans, grabbing plastic bags and other belongings.
We urge the public to refrain from feeding monkeys, and to keep food away from them. It is an offence to feed monkeys in the nature reserves.
Those with feedback on monkey issues may contact the AVA on 1800-476-1600.
Wong Hong Mun (Dr)
Group Director, Agri Establishment Regulatory Group For Chief Executive Officer Agri-Food Veterinary Authority
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