KOTA KINABALU: Macaques are posing a growing problem in Sabah as they are now increasingly coming into contact with humans, with the Sabah Wildlife Department also at a loss on how to minimise human-wildlife conflicts.
“If we put up traps and say we catch more than a dozen of them, that is all we will get. The others will never enter the same trap again.
“The monkeys are resourceful and they know how to take advantage of their environment,” said Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.
He said macaques contributed to the second highest number of cases of human-wildlife conflict – nearly 30% of all those handled by the department from 2012 to 2022.
“Major areas of conflict are in Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Tawau, Lahad Datu, and Sandakan.
“After being caught, these primates are translocated to other areas where they are released to thrive in the wild. In the more recent years between 2018 and 2022, the Sabah Wildlife Department has translocated 3,454 macaques,” he said, adding that macaques were protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
The solution is to come out with a management plan to handle the human-wildlife conflict that is escalating across Sabah where human settlements are in close proximity to forested areas, he said at yesterday’s opening of a wildlife management workshop by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
The two-day workshop looks at drawing up a comprehensive plan to help humans coexist peacefully with wildlife at shared spaces.
In her speech, Liew said that management of food waste was important in tackling the problem.
“Urbanisation has resulted in the mass availability of discarded food from domestic and commercial sources, and in other cases, feeding of wildlife.
“In general, the macaques are attracted to neighbourhoods where they can forage for edible scraps.
“Improper garbage disposal and feeding of animals by well-meaning people further encourage macaques to frequent these spots,” she said, adding that mitigation strategies should include raising public awareness on macaque behaviour.