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Humans always at fault in conflicts with macaque population: ACRES

SINGAPORE — The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has partnered researchers to conduct a study on Singapore’s macaque population — which has long been in conflict with residents living near their habitats — with the findings to be released in due course.

Mia, the long-tailed macaque, was released at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, the first rescue, rehabilitation and release operation of an injured monkey in Singapore on Oct 8, 2013. Photo: Don Wong

Mia, the long-tailed macaque, was released at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, the first rescue, rehabilitation and release operation of an injured monkey in Singapore on Oct 8, 2013. Photo: Don Wong

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SINGAPORE — The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has partnered researchers to conduct a study on Singapore’s macaque population — which has long been in conflict with residents living near their habitats — with the findings to be released in due course.

Areas covered in the research included looking at the ranging patterns of the macaques and gaining a better understanding of why the monkeys have been increasingly venturing into urban areas.

“What we’ve found is that it is all human-related. It is not the macaques coming into our property; it is really us who have ventured into their property,” said Mr Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES. The research findings will also be used to back up some of the policy recommendations the society has long called for, such as putting an end to the culling of wildlife, he added.

Mr Ng was speaking at ACRES’ fundraising carnival yesterday, which also aimed to raise awareness on the search for alternative solutions to culling and fighting animal cruelty. He declined to share more details about the research project, saying the report would be published soon.

With more developments encroaching into wildlife habitats, human-animal conflict has inevitably been on the rise. The biggest human-animal conflict in Singapore has been dealing with macaques, with residents living near wildlife reserves being plagued by monkeys intruding into their homes.

Instead of resorting to culling, ACRES has been pushing for greater tolerance between humans and animals, such as by educating people on how to avoid attracting animals to their properties. For example, they could make food sources in residential areas less readily available to wildlife.

“(Culling) is the easiest solution that doesn’t involve our lifestyle changes. We keep trying to change the animals when the truth of the matter is … it’s always human-related with every single issue,” said Mr Ng.

Adding that people have a moral responsibility to look after animals, he said: “We live on this tiny little island. Animals have nowhere to go and we need to learn to co-exist now.”

There have been encouraging signs that Singaporeans are gaining greater awareness of these issues, with hotline calls to ACRES doubling from last year as more people are actively calling to rescue animals. Mr Ng said this is a very big change in attitude from viewing these animals as pests to seeing them as part of the ecosystem.

About 500 people were present at the fundraising carnival yesterday, one of the many roadshow events ACRES organises as part of its public outreach and education efforts, as well as to raise funds for its wildlife rescue efforts.

ACRES has set a fundraising goal of its S$1.5 million this year, compared to the S$1.2 million it received in donations last year. The money will go towards funding its Macaque Rescue Team and Wildlife Rescue Team.

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