One of the main attractions in Ubud (Bali) is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. It is a small area in the center of the city. Some 600 Balinese Longtail Monkeys live here. (Macaque in English).
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)
The park is located in the center of Ubud, one of the hubs in Bali for digital nomads and other travelers. The small park hosts several groups of these monkeys. The groups cross paths and each other territories when searching for food and water. That search for food can’t be that difficult: Bananas are sold inside the park to visitors who feed these to the monkeys.
Besides bananas, the monkeys are fed sweet potatoes and cucumbers by the park services.
The monkeys are “semi-wild”. That is tourist speech for “still wild, but please come and spend money”. When one carries no food, the monkeys will not approach you. Even with a camera in their hand: they seem to have a good eye for what they like and what they can eat. Bottles of water are not safe with them, I saw several of these kleptomaniac animals get hold of a bottle, open it and empty it. Trying to get that bottle back, as a Japanese tourist did, will end in aggression from the monkey. And just like I saw last year in Iguazu, there are not enough signs in the world that will stop people from engaging with these animals.
I’ve been traveling in areas with wild animals, such as brown bears before. But the unnatural behavior of the monkeys here made it feel (!) less safe than I would have imagined. The furry aspect makes people want to behave with them using human rationales.
The fact that we know how many monkeys live here, seems to be the result of a Belgian study. The University of Liege did a study on the behavior of the groups exposed to tourists.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Pictures:
I’m a bit in doubt about the park. On the one hand, it feels a bit like a zoo, while on the other I can see the conservation as part of the efforts here. I’m looking into better understanding the effects and update this post when I do.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.