This is one monkey that knows where it's all at!
Hide and seek along with the grooming?
Some years back, my then regular hiking companion and I went along a trail that took us through Kam Shan Country Park that got us realizing that it's Monkey Central, not least because of stupid people (illegally?) driving up from Tai Po Road deep into the country park to (definitely illegally) feed the monkeys that now make the area their home. That experience was so unpleasant that it wasn't until today that I ventured again into that area -- this time with not just one but three hiking buddies in tow!
I'm happy to report that this afternoon's hike was a good deal more pleasant than the one that provided ample proof that Kam Shan (aka Golden Hill) really deserves its Monkey Hill nickname. Although we saw plenty of monkeys on our hike (again particularly along Golden Hill Road, and also along the Eagle's Nest Nature Trail in the neighboring Lion Rock Country Park), I felt quite a bit safer because, this time around, there were four in our group. In addition, this time around, we didn't see any people trying to feed the wild macaques that are an introduced species to Hong Kong.
Maybe people actually are paying heed to the signs and banners put up by the authorities telling people not to feed the monkeys. At the same time, the fact that quite a few of the macaques we saw looked so expectant when they saw humans makes me think that they really have have come to look upon humans for free food.
Almost needless to say, I way prefer those monkeys who ignore the presence of humans to do what monkeys more naturally do (e.g., groom each other) to the ones the simian beggars (or, worse, snatch thieves). In a perfect world, people also shouldn't tempt the monkeys by holding out food and eating in front of them. More than incidentally, a man who was conspicuously munching away walked by our group at one point -- and it was startling to see the amount of monkeys that suddenly appeared along the path, and that he left in his wake and staring at us, seemingly with the hope that these other humans they saw would feed them.
At the very least, I hope more people will heed the following warnings and advice seen on an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department banner hanging near Kowloon Reservoir today: "Feeding of wild animals leads to problems. Nature can meet their needs. Wild Animal Protection Ordinance (CAP, 170): Feeding of Wild Monkeys is Prohibited. Maximum Penalty is a Fine of HK$10,000".