Monday, April 25, 2011

conversations with monkeys

in Beppu.
On the edge of town there is a large forested hill that is a reserved for a very large colony of monkeys. I was hoping that visitors would be able to walk through the forest observe the monkeys there, with the added benefit of some birdwatching- however all the walking trails where closed and the monkeys where being feed in an open area- like an open zoo. There was a show going on which seemed to be about how monkeys can work out how to get food out of all sorts of containers that one would think was animal proof- like hanging your food in a bag from a tree. The mans narration of the monkey feats was being broadcast from speakers that were all over the clearing. His voice was around you- rather than directionally in front of you. When the the man stopped talking the monkey's starting hooting loudly as if they could finally get a word in edge ways and have a conversation with each other. It was really odd, like they were in the same space as us but trying their best to work around our irritating presence.

This demonstration started with the woman offering peanuts- the small chimp pn the rail jumped up like he was going to get it- but the Alfa male you see on the gund just below him climbed up and pushed him off. It was for him actually and the women did series of demonstrations about how far he could jump.

While she was doing this, the guy who had been doing the show about how monkeys can get into anything, walked along behind and scatter what looked like barley or wheat. The monkeys went absolutely crazy swarming to get the food. I was terrified of being in the way and knocked over by them as there was some aggressive scenes between them. I was very conscious while there of here Jane Goodall talking about feeding chimps while she was trying to study them and now this changed the chimps group dynamics.
Despite the presence of so many monkeys the place didn't stink too badly because there where uniformed attendants sweeping up the monkey shit.

Even though the monkeys where everywhere and so close to us, there wasn't really the feeling of interaction- like the visitors where obstacles to be avoided and the attendants irritating sources of food. You sort of felt invisible and yet completely responsible for their behaviour, leading to a very odd guilt at the futility of human attempts at interacting with wild animals.

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