Saturday, August 20, 2016

A 'Monkey Walk' at MacRitchie Reservoir Park

There was a period when my estate was plagued by a troupe of monkeys who climbed up the balconies in search of food and enter apartments that had forgotten to close the heavy balcony doors. Had to keep the doors closed for a few weeks while ACRES helped to move the monkeys away to a forested area. I'm a city girl who didn't grow up with monkeys as playmates. Monkeys are fierce and unfriendly. I avoid them as much as possible.

I do stop by MacRitchie Reservoir for walks, but not often enough and certainly not weekly. I was curious about the guided walks at MacRitchie Reservoir Park led by guides from Jane Goodall Institute. Not that I'm so hot about monkeys. It would be lovely to get out amid the green. Signed up for their complimentary once-a-month 'Monkey Walk'. 🐒🐵

We started the 1.5-hour walk at the amenities center at Lornie Road where Mushroom Cafe is, and at the boardwalk where canoes are kept and launched. Quite a big carpark too. I've never begun a walk or run at this entrance. I usually go in from Venus Drive. We went for a quick run before our scheduled walk at 5pm.

To my untrained eye, it's tough to spot birds or monkeys. I do better with water fowls, aquatic creatures, insects and bugs because I conciously look out for them with both eyes and ears. :P On this walk, I didn't even have to look. From this starting point, monkeys merrily paraded themselves to us! Hahahaha. There're critically-endangered banded leaf monkeys living in the area, but we didn't see any that evening. The 'Monkey Walk' specifically looks out for long-tailed macaques. It's the most commonly seen species in Singapore, and definitely brazen in its interaction with humans. We saw two families bounding around.

Our guide-primatologist was of course knowledgeable and very enthusiastic, sharing nuggets of information on the monkeys' behaviors, expressions, habits and family groupings. She also warned us to keep our distance from the macaques, especially the babies, and not to carry plastic bags, food or drinks in hand. The cute baby monkeys really look like an emoji. But please don't try to hug one. Their parents will scratch your eyes out.

After the easy stroll about 2km or so, and pumped full of new information about macaque habitats and behavior, we put away our phones, and hung out by the water to watch the sun set, reveling in the splendid quiet.

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