More monkey business in Ang Mo Kio

AAng Mo Kio has had its fair share of hairy moments this year, with the authorities receiving at least 30 cases of "monkey feedback" from residents in the town.

About half of these cases involved monkeys entering homes to steal food, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told The Sunday Times.

This is up from just 10 instances last year, the authority said.

Between January and April this year, the AVA trapped and put down three monkeys around Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, after residents said the primates stole food from their homes regularly and that they were "fearful for their safety".

Last month, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 resident Raymond Fernando, 64, wrote to The Straits Times to complain that a monkey had entered his fifth-floor flat in Block 601. The writer, who lives alone, admitted that the animal was not aggressive, but said: "There is no guarantee it will not attack me."

In response, AVA said it is conducting "monkey control operations" around Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. It is also working with Ang Mo Kio Town Council to reduce the nuisance.

But complaints overall have not gone up.

As of Oct 15, the authority has received 520 cases of monkey-related feedback this year from residents across the island. Last year, there were 1,860 such cases. More than 100 were about aggressive monkeys, which included the primates snatching things or biting and scratching, the AVA said.

However, out of 10 town councils that The Sunday Times contacted, including Ang Mo Kio, most said they have not received feedback on monkeys this year.

A spokesman for Tampines Town Council, though, said a monkey was spotted in Tampines Secondary School on Oct 7, and the AVA was called in to capture the animal.

Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said the group had looked into the Ang Mo Kio situation after Mr Fernando's letter was published and found that some residents there were feeding the monkeys.

"Based on the amount of feedback AVA has received this year, it is time to address the root of the problem and stop people from feeding the monkeys," he said. "The effectiveness of culling has not been scientifically proven."

Instead, Acres has suggested that the authorities keep monkeys away from residential areas through monkey herding. This involves a trained guard shooing monkeys away by tapping a stick, umbrella or net on the ground, or by using body language.

Members of the public who have feedback on monkey issues may contact AVA on 1800-476-1600.

This article was first published on Nov 16, 2014.
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