Monkey Forest Tales: Why is important NOT to feed wild monkeys?

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Today’s post is about an important topic for wild primates and humans, not only because of the impact that feeding wild monkeys had on monkey’s lives but also because this can have a high impact on people’s lives too. It is about the importance of NOT feeding wild monkeys

Monkeys had always caused fascination for humans, maybe because of our physical similarities, their curiosity, and sometimes funny behavior. This fascination makes that some humans see monkeys as something cute to pet and feed, causing two major problems for wild monkeys: illegal pet traffic and feeding of wild populations. This especially happens in areas where humans and monkeys share their space such as cities and towns and with less frequency in farms.

But, why feeding wild monkeys is bad? Well, it presents a couple of problems for monkeys and humans.

The first one and probably most important is the transmission of diseases caused by microorganisms. Our physiology and monkey’s physiology is similar. This means that our bodies respond more or less in the same way to viruses, bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms. Therefore, our infections can pass to them and their infections can pass to us and by doing that make us both vulnerable.

When you feed a wild monkey, even if the monkey lives freely in a city, you enter in contact with microorganisms that they carry and the monkeys enter in contact with microorganisms that we carry, making both of us, monkeys and humans, prone to get a disease or infection carries by the other.

The second problem is that when they get used to being feed by humans and that feeding stops, they need to search for the food you are not giving to them. This causes problems because the monkeys start looking in a garbage bin, stealing food in markets or attacking people who are eating to get their food. Humans are usually not very tolerant of these behaviors and start killing those individuals or groups that make these behaviors.

So, if you care about monkeys and are worried that groups of monkeys living close by to your town/ city don’t get enough food for living. There are other ways in which you can help them, such as planting fruit trees near to the areas where you usually see them, especially fruit trees that are native, the kind of trees where you had seen them eating or ask a biologist what kind of fruit tree can be useful for them.

Another thing you can do is to prevent the destruction of their habitat and increase the connectivity of the forest fragments where you see the monkeys moving. All the species are continuously moving in search of food but when the habitat is disrupted and they cannot pass to other forest areas, they just search for food where they can, even if that means garbage bins.

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