Bali’s Uluwatu Temple is one go the most spiritually significant temples on the island. The Pura Luhur Uluwatu is also home to several troops of resident monkeys.
The wildlife has become a source of interest to tourists, and visitors from all around the world explore the outer area of the temple in hopes of observing the wild monkeys.
However, the monkeys have quickly learned how to make the most of all the attention.
The wild resident monkeys at Uluwatu Temple are known to be some of the most ‘naughty’ primates on the island.
They frequently steal hats, glasses, shoes, bags, and even mobile phones from tourists. They do this knowing that if they steal something from a tourist, temple guides will bribe them with food to get the items back.
There have been dozens of viral videos of the Uluwatu Temple monkeys stealing from tourists and, in some cases, even attacking people.
Monkey attacks can be dangerous; not only are the marques incredibly strong they are also potential carriers of rabies and other serious diseases.
@thereal_amoney The Bali Bandits🐒😂 Be careful around them Monkeys at the Temples #Bali #uluwatutemple #fyp ♬ 恐怖音乐 – 李不言
With this in mind and as a result of rising reports of monkey attacks, the Head of the Pecan Traditional Village, Made Sumerta, has launched an evaluation of the tourist operation.
He says he wants his team to start formally recording reports of monkey attacks and incidences of conflicts between humans and the monkeys.
Sumerta said, “This can later be formulated to prevent similar things from happening again. So far, this [kind of] report has not existed.”
He added ‘there much be a record of how many incidents tourists have experienced as a result of monkey misbehavior.”
Sumerta explained that preventative measures are in place, like the presence of temple guides and the vaccination of the monkeys against rabies, where possible. But he did not deny that more work is necessary to help keep both tourists and monkeys safe.
He shards, “Don’t let this make tourists afraid to come to Uluwatu. These monkeys are one of the attractions of the Uluwatu Temple; this must be considered so that monkey mischief does not occur. Don’t let this become a bad image.”
@samanthaloud Visited Uluwatu for the waves and the temple views. But, I’ll remember it for the monkeys #monkeys #animalsoftiktok #jumpscare #uluwatubali #uluwatutemple #monkeyencounter #animalencounters #balitourguide ♬ Run – AWOLNATION
He concluded, “When something that is uncomfortable happens, an evaluation must be carried out. Thus it is hoped that tourists visits can increase in the future.”
Sumerta did not suggest that the newly introduced monkey feeding activity will be stopped in light of recent monkey attacks.
This, many animal behavior specialists would suggest, is the most important step in mitigating undesirable behavior from the monkeys.
In mid-July this year, leaders from Uluwtu Temple announced a new tourism program where tourists could visit and feed the monkeys.
The once-a-week feeding program was created in the hopes of educating tourists about the monkeys. However, the idea has proven controversial, given that directly feeding the monkeys creates an environment where the risk of attacks is higher.
The Uluwatu Temple Tourism Management Manager, Wayan Wijana, said that the feeding session will happen once a week, on Sunday at 4 pm.
He hoped that the sessions would help rid the public of their fears and negative perceptions about the monkeys. But many animal lovers fear that the sessions are a recipe for disaster.
Wijana said the Uluwatu Temple Management is “Providing free food [so that the monkeys] choose selectively…visitors may interact with the monkeys for free and remain under supervision.”
He added that visitors will be able to “get close to the monkeys and take pictures with the monkeys.”
Yet, encouraging and incentives interactions with the monkeys one minute and discouraging them the next will only frustrate and confuse the wild monkeys, further increasing the risk of undesirable behaviors against people.
In June, the international animal welfare organization, World Animal Protection, shared the results of their undercover investigation that found there to be no ethical animal tourism experiences in Bali or Lombok; this includes interactions with wild and semi-wild animals.
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