The monkey species in Hong Kong comprises Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), and hybrids of Rhesus Macaque and Long-tailed Macaque (M. fascicularis). The total population of monkeys in Hong Kong is about 1,800 at present, mainly distributed in Kam Shan, Lion Rock, and Shing Mun Country Parks.
They live in troops that can reach up to 200 individuals. The troops are usually led by a dominant male leader and generally consists of a few adult males, many adult females plus their depending young. Young females usually stay in the maternal group but some young males may leave the maternal groups to join other troops or become solitary males.
Rhesus Macaque has grayish-brown to golden brown pelage; pinkish face and rump; infants are born brownish yellow; hair on the top of the head is short; short tail of about 40 to 60% of its body length; presence of cheek pouches to store food for later consumption. Hybrids of Rhesus Macaque and Long-tailed Macaque have a longer tail of about 80% of its body length.
Monkeys in Hong Kong are adapted to different types of habitats, such as woodland, grasslands, and even in urbanized areas. Although monkeys are good climbers and swimmers, they spend most of their time on the ground.
Monkeys in Hong Kong feed mainly on plant materials like leaves, fruits, flowers, shoots and barks, but occasionally feed on insects. They have lots of natural food available to them. By eating natural food, macaques also help our forest to regenerate and to ensure a balance in the ecosystem.
Feeding of Monkeys Lead to Problems
Some people enjoy feeding monkeys, some worry that the monkeys are starving in the wild and they want to help them by feeding. However they are not aware of the negative consequences of human feeding to both monkeys and people, such as:
- Becoming dependent on humans for food and lost their foraging instincts;
- Becoming overpopulated, causing the ecosystem unbalanced;
- Losing natural fear to humans, even snatching plastic bags or food held by people; and
- Causing nuisance to the residents in the nearby areas.
《Wild Animals Protection Ordinance》
Monkeys are protected wild animals in Hong Kong. Under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170), except in accordance with a special permit, no person shall hunt, willfully disturb, sell or in his possession of any protected wild animals taken from Hong Kong. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment for one year.
Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks, part of Tai Mo Shan Country Park, Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, a section of Tai Po Road parallel to Caldecott Road and Piper's Hill section of Tai Po Road are specified places under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) at which the feeding of any wild animals are prohibited. The implementation of feeding ban is intended to reduce the monkeys' reliance on human feeding, and to make the monkeys revert to foraging in the countryside on their own. Anyone contravening the feeding restriction is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 upon conviction. The AFCD arranges regular patrol at the feeding ban area, and will take immediate prosecution actions against anyone who has fed monkeys or other wild animals.
Monkey Contraceptive Programme
Since 2007, the AFCD has regularly arranged monkey contraceptive operations for monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks. The AFCD will also monitor the changes in monkey populations so as to control their number in the long run. According to the population monitoring, the birth rate of monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks has noticeably decreased from about 78% in 2008 to about 35% in recent years. The total number of monkeys has dropped by more than 23% in the past eight years, and has maintained at about 1,650 only in the past three years (2014-2016). AFCD will continue to monitor the changes of monkey populations, and will perform neutering treatments for more monkeys.