Monkey problem: Embark on sterilisation programme

Miss Amy Klegarth from Pennsylvania, US, is in Singapore to do research on macaques, a species of monkeys living close to the edge of the jungle.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) should start a comprehensive programme of sterilising monkeys, similar to what is being done for stray cats and dogs.

Sterilisation is an internationally accepted practice of keeping animal populations under control. It may also make the adult alpha males less aggressive.

My family has lived beside a forested area for about 40 years and our observations are:

•The forest is the monkeys' natural habitat and the residential areas are the habitat of humans. The monkeys are intruding into our habitat, and have become a nuisance and menace. •Removing food sources (if this is even possible) will not deter these monkeys from intruding into our human habitat. •Foraging monkeys are more than capable of lifting the covers off waste bins and even overturning them to empty their contents. •The males are as large as small children, and certainly very strong and intelligent. Also, many homes with gardens have fruit trees - another source of food. •Shooing the monkeys away with water from a garden hose is impractical. In my garden, a tribe of about 20 monkeys travels across my property to the neighbouring houses daily. •There is very little pest control companies can do - what is the point of catching one or two monkeys when there are hundreds moving around the public areas near forests all over Singapore?

The AVA should set up a dedicated hotline and form a team of officers who are trained in dealing with aggressive monkeys.

They can be dispatched to areas where monkeys are causing a nuisance, to provide assistance as well as to identify tribes for follow-up sterilisation action.

The irony here is that inaction today will result in the uncontrolled growth of the wild monkey population, leading to the very option many people are trying to avoid - culling the monkey population.

This is a multifaceted problem which needs to be addressed now, as it is not going to go away.

We do not want Singapore to go the way of some cities like New Delhi, where monkeys have become an overwhelming problem.

Alan Lee, Reader

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