The Surprising Reason Monkeys Are Raiding Pantries In Bali

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented tragedy that has negatively impacted the lives of many people around the world. Countless people have had their health impacted by the virus while others have been indirectly affected through lockdowns and social distancing orders that have forced many businesses to close their doors and led to massive jobs losses. And while the virus's impact on humanity has been undeniably tragic, human beings are not the only creatures that have been harmed by the ongoing pandemic. For instance, in Lopburi, Thailand, a COVID-driven tourist shortage drastically reduced the food readily available to the monkey population, leading to separate gang fights between factions of hungry monkeys (via News 18). Meanwhile, in Indonesia, some monkeys have become cat burglars. 

According to AP News, the long-tailed macaques that live in the Sangeh Monkey Forest on the island of Bali, Indonesia, have resorted to ransacking the homes of the local community in search of food, after the sharp decline in tourism has left them hungry and bored. Normally, the Sangeh Monkey Forest attracts 5 million foreign tourists a year and sees more than 6,000 monthly visitors who frequently feed and interact with the native monkey population. However, the coronavirus pandemic virtually brought international travel to a grinding halt, cutting the monthly total to a meager 500 people, meaning there are far fewer friendly tourists around to feed the animals.

Without tourists, monkeys are searching for food

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Indonesia banned all foreign visitors to Bali in July. However, while that may have helped stop the spread of the virus, it also meant that the monkeys of the Sangeh Monkey Forest were deprived of their normal source of food and entertainment. As a result, the bored and hungry monkeys have been raiding the homes of villages in Sangeh, perching themselves on rooftops to snag religious offerings left on terraces. 

"A few days ago I attended a traditional ceremony at a temple near the Sangeh forest. When I parked my car and took out two plastic bags containing food and flowers as offerings, two monkeys suddenly appeared and grabbed it all and ran into the forest very fast," a local villager named Saskara Gustu Alit recounted to AP News. "That's why I have urged villagers here to come to the forest to play with the monkeys and offer them food. I think they need to interact with humans as often as possible so that they do not go wild." 

Sangeh natives have taken to offering food like fruits and peanuts to the monkeys in the sanctuary to help prevent them from raiding the village. And while these monkeys may just be looking for a bite to eat, that doesn't necessarily mean they are harmless, as hungry wild animals have been known to pose threats to people. "We are afraid that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and vicious," Gustu Alit added.