Tourists visiting a restaurant in Lovina, North Bali, got more than they bargained for when they sat down for dinner on Sunday. Locals in Buleleng Old Harbour had been aware of a wild male monkey becoming increasingly confident around people. On Sunday his confidence transformed into audacity as he began to raid the kitchen of Warung Mencobek in Lovina.
The restaurant, owned by Putu Reka Ariawan said that he saw the whole thing unfold. He told local reporters how he thought that the monkey had become ‘dangerous for visitors’ and was scared that the monkey would become territorial over the kitchen, the food store and even start stealing food from diner’s plates.
After being chased from Warung Mencobek the thieving monkey tried his luck in several other restaurants by the beach. Many of the restaurants were serving local snacks like a fried banana that spectators reported as his favorite.
It seems that the monkey had had his fill on Sunday afternoon as he was not spotted around the Lovina dock area in the days that followed. Nonetheless the Fire Service Rapid Response Team was called out this week to capture and relocate the monkey to a wildlife reserve.
The Fire Service tried everything to lure the monkey into the transportation crate, including using fruit and attempting to catch him in a net usually designed for catching stray dogs. The Head of the Buleleng Fire Service, Made Subur, said his team was bemused by the call out. He said this was the first time his service had had to catch a monkey, that usually they were called out to remove snakes or dogs stuck in wells or ditches.
Surbur reported that once the monkey was caught he was taken to the Buleleng Fire Service HQ where he was then handed to the Bali Conservation and Natural Resources Team (BKSDA) who have relocated him to a more appropriate landscape. It’s unknown where he was relocated to. It is unlikely that he was put into the Monkey Forest since this would disrupt the troops. He may have been relocated to the stunning ecosystem of West Bali National Park.
This is not the first time that services in Bali have been called out to deal with monkeys causing trouble. Residents who live close to the world-famous Monkey Forest in Ubud have had to deal with monkey raids throughout the pandemic. As tourist numbers plummeted, so did the food for the thousands of monkeys that live in the forest.
Throughout the pandemic, the management team at Monkey Forest did their best to keep the monkeys fed, though money eventually ran out and food donations needed to be distributed to people rather than wildlife. Representatives at Monkey Forest say it costs close to USD 800 a month to keep the monkeys fed. The monkeys in the area are so habituated to humans and are used to being hand-fed by humans that they showed no fear when breaking into residents’ homes and raiding the kitchen cupboards.
The Monkey Forest in Ubud is just one of the dozens of Bali’s leading tourist attractions that are welcoming the rapid increase in international visitors. Monkey Forest is often ranked as the best thing to do for visitors in Ubud, closely followed by a visit to Saraswati Temple or Ubud Palace and a stroll over the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
This week the government could confirm that Bali has seen a 1000% increase in the number of international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022. Since Indonesia has scrapped the pre-arrival PCR test for vaccinated travelers arrivals are set to soar again. Locals working in the tourism sector in Bali are hopeful that the president will soon drop all Covid-19 restrictions which would allow restaurants and cafes to operate at 100% capacity once again – hopefully free from over-confident monkeys.
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