Specially created latch designed to stop them from raiding household rubbish

(From left) Hendra, Dr Sharmini and Ummu Salamah demonstrating how the monkey-proof latch works on a rubbish bin. - Photos: SAM THAM/The Star

A new monkey-proof latch for rubbish bins has been created by a group of animal experts to reduce human-monkey conflict in Bukit Gasing, Petaling Jaya.

The pilot project will see bins of 70 houses in the vicinity attached with the monkey- proof latch.

Another 100 latches will be distributed to other areas with similar problems in the Klang Valley.

The latches are meant to stop monkeys from rummaging through the bins for food and eventually, discourage them from visiting the residential areas altogether.

The Animal Neighbours Project was created through funding from Britain’s Global Challenge Research Fund.

The project founder is Dr Sharmini Paramasivam, a teaching fellow at Britain’s School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey.

“The biggest concern among residents was the raiding of waste bins by monkeys, ” said Dr Sharmini, who is a veterinarian.

The community project was formed to tackle the monkey menace in areas with the same problem, such as Bangi, Bukit Kiara, Bukit Jalil, Taman Tugu, Bukit Tunku and Kuala Selangor.

She said ultimately, the problem required behavioural changes by humans.

Dr Sharmini highlighted that generally, the public had misconceptions of wild monkeys’ diet.

Monkeys in the wild do not feed on ripe mangoes, bananas or sweet fruits.

“Wild monkeys feed on low-energy food such as young leaves, shrubs and fruits that are not ripe or sweet, ” said Dr Sharmini.

She added that certain religious and cultural practices such as feeding animals must change to control the monkey population.

Too much food also results in the animals maturing faster and leads to earlier breeding, she said.

“Sometimes, the public offers huge amounts of ripe fruits and nuts to these animals thinking that they are starving. The monkeys are not meant to eat such food, ” she said.

The project, which started in April last year, would conclude in April this year.

A conference will be held in the middle of this year to discuss the outcome of the project where experts and residents will share their views.

The long-term plan was for Animal Neighbours Project to create several different models to reduce wildlife-human conflict.

A demonstration was carried out by Animal Neighbours Project coordinators, Dr Sharmini and two research assistants from Universiti Putra Malaysia Hendra Rijal and Ummu Salamah Wan Sulaiman, for Section 5 residents.

Also present was Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Haidar Mokbalhassan.

He said community engagement was the key to curbing the problem.

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