Hungry monkeys on the resort island of Bali are deprived of their preferred food sources such as bananas, peanuts and other goodies that are brought in by tourists now kept away by the coronavirus. These monkeys are now raiding villagers' homes in their search for something tasty.
According to The Associated Press, the villagers in Sangeh say the grey long-tailed macaques have been venturing out from a sanctuary about 500 meters away to hang out on their roofs and await the right time to swoop down and snatch a snack.
Worried that the sporadic sorties will escalate into an all-out monkey assault on the village, residents have been taking fruit, peanuts and other food to the Sangeh Monkey Forest to try to placate the primates.
“We are afraid that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and vicious,” villager Saskara Gustu Alit said.
According to reports, about 600 of the macaques live in the forest sanctuary, swinging from the tall nutmeg trees and leaping about the famous Pura Bukit Sari temple. They are also considered sacred.
In normal times the protected jungle area in the southeast of the Indonesian island is popular among local residents for wedding photos, as well as among international visitors. The relatively tame monkeys can be easily coaxed to sit on a shoulder or lap for a peanut or two.
In terms of money, tourism is the main source of income for Bali's 4 million residents. These residents welcomed more than 5 million foreign visitors annually before the global pandemic.
The Sangeh Monkey Forest typically had about 6,000 visitors a month, but as the pandemic spread last year and international travel dropped off dramatically, that number dropped to about 500.
Since July, when Indonesia banned all foreign travelers to the island and shut the sanctuary to local residents as well, there has been nobody.
This also means that nobody is bringing in extra food for the monkeys. The sanctuary has also lost out on its admission fees and is running low on money to purchase food for them, The Associated Press said.
Usually, monkeys wander into the village and sit on roofs, removing tiles and dropping them to the ground. When villagers put out daily religious offerings of food on their terraces, the monkeys jump down and make off with them.
"A few days ago I attended a traditional ceremony at a temple near the Sangeh forest," Gustu Alit said.
"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," Gustu added.
Normally, the monkeys spend all day interacting with visitors by stealing their sunglasses and water bottles, pulling at clothes, jumping on shoulders — and Gustu Alit theorizes that more than just being hungry, they’re bored.