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Thursday October 7, 2010

Macaque abducts, bites and drops baby from roof

SEREMBAN: In mere minutes, a young woman turned from a happy mother to a grieving one when she lost her four-day-old baby to a wild monkey that was shot dead several hours later.

In the 1.15pm tragedy yesterday, the macaque stole into the living room; snatched the child and fled up the roof of the house. The baby fell to the ground and died.

The mother, V. Revathy, 26, had left her first-born child in the living room of the single-storey house near Taman Happy Garden to use the toilet. The baby’s body was discovered later outside the house with her face and neck badly bitten. She was rushed to the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital here where she was pronounced dead.

Young mother Revathy and her husband V. Neru at the hospital. Inset: A medical officer taking the baby's body to the Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital mortuary.

Revathi’s father-in-law A. Valayutham, 70, was in the living room with the newborn but had gone to get a glass of water when the tragedy occurred.

“We frantically searched all over the house and saw her body covered in blood lying outside the house,” he said.

Valayutham added that he had noticed a few monkeys outside the house compound at that time.

The area where the family stayed was sandwiched between two residential areas with a foliage of trees nearby where there were monkeys.

Negri Sembilan Wildlife and National Parks director Ishak Muhamad said the macaque was shot dead at 4pm.

“We suspect the macaque was rummaging for food inside the house. It could have taken the baby to the roof thinking the newborn was food.

“The baby died when it fell to the ground. The monkey had apparently released the newborn, probably because it was alarmed by the parents’ shouts,” Ishak said yesterday.

He added that the parents had called the Fire and Rescue Department at 2.15pm, which immediately contacted the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

“We reached the house at about 3pm and set off with the baby’s father to look for the macaque,” he said.

Ishak said department officers saw the macaque in some bushes several metres from the house at about 4pm.

The macaque was shot when it began to act aggressively.

Ishak added that it was the first such case in the state, and believed the male monkey was attracted by a female kept in captivity as a pet by the family.

“This is very unusual. Normally, these monkeys simply steal food or pluck fruit from the yard,” he said.

The baby’s father, lorry driver V. Neru, 29, who was not at home when the incident occurred, said he could not believe that such a thing could have happened.

“I rushed to the hospital only to be told that she was gone.

“She was our bundle of joy and we were looking forward to spending many happy years with her ... I just cannot believe she’s gone,” he said.

R. Shanty, 35, who lives nearby said it was common to see monkeys in groups of three or four in the area.

“A while back, my pet dog was attacked by these monkeys. Its badly-bitten body was thrown from a tree.

“I really hope the authorities take action and not wait until another life is lost,” she said.

Rahang assemblyman M.K. Arumugam, who visited the family yesterday evening, expressed regret over the incident.

“I have brought this matter up before but sadly no action was taken. I am very disappointed that something like this had to happen before the authorities took notice,” he said.

Related Story:
Macaques can be an aggressive breed, says expert

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