More than monkey business

Living on common ground with our local macaques

by Gwyneth Cheng

Most Singaporeans now know to keep their distance from the native long-tailed macaques, so why are we still reading about human-macaque conflicts these days?

“[People see macaques a certain way because of] personal experiences, good or bad experiences, misconceptions—all fueled by various platforms on social media and news reports. In addition to that [are] more hotlines to report ‘all things [related to] monkeys’.” —Sabrina Jabbar, Monkey Guards Programme Lead at JGIS
The monkeys we meet
Monkey see, monkey do
Deadly consequences
​​"Culling one-fifth of the population seems like we're trying to exterminate the monkeys, not manage the conflicts between them and people.” —Louis Ng, chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES)
“Removal of the ‘monkey-in-question’ only opens up a space or void for other monkeys to fill, and the same issue will happen. We need to work with the people to resolve these human-generated problems for long term sustainability.” —Dr. Andie Ang, President of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore)
Changing perspectives
“[We can change perspectives by] seeking the cause of negative perceptions first, before providing targeted assistance—keeping in mind that the objective is not to make everyone love macaques, but to better equip people with the right knowledge and skills to avoid negative interactions with macaques.” —Sabrina Jabbar
No more monkeying around, please
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
In collaboration with
Julia Janicki / Freelance Writer

Julia is a freelance data journalist, data visualization designer/developer and cartographer with a focus on environmental issues, biodiversity conservation, democracy and human rights. Julia is from the U.S. and Taiwan, and currently lives in Paris. Her academic background is in conservation biology, entomology, remote sensing and Japanese. Julia is also currently working on Taiwan Data Stories as a side project.

Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) (JGIS) / Partnership

The Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) (JGIS) is a non-profit charity organisation (RROS 1066/2007) focused on inspiring individual action to improve the understanding, welfare, and conservation of the environment and its wildlife, and to safeguard the planet we all share. JGIS was founded in 2007 to amplify Dr. Jane Goodall’s work in Singapore.

Sabrina Jabbar / Freelance Writer

Sabrina assists Dr. Andie Ang with research on the conservation of the Raffles’ Banded Langurs while dedicating her time to macaque education and outreach. She provides Monkey Guards training to members of the public as well as nature groups/agencies. She also collaborates with animal groups around the region to share and exchange knowledge regarding long-term solutions to help people and macaques. She believes in the need for the community to evolve, embrace, and learn to live with the long-tailed macaques as the range of activity between people and local wildlife overlap.

Design / Munirah Mansoor
Illustrations / Griselda Gabriele
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