Andy Cornish's Blog

Dr Andy Cornish was raised in Hong Kong, and gained a strong interest in wildlife through spending time in Pokfulam Country Park. He studied Zoology at Nottingham University in England, travelled extensively through Central America where he learnt to scuba dive, and later did his PhD on reef fishes at the University of Hong Kong. Since then, he worked for a year doing coral reef management for the government of American Samoa, and taught in the Dept. of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong. He worked at WWF from 2005 to late 2012 as Conservation Director, and was responsible for four programmes: Climate, Footprint, Local Biodiversity and Regional Wetlands (including management of the Mai Po Nature Reserve). He remains involved in environmental issues on an independent basis.

A macaque encounter

The hills are alive with monkeys
January 24, 2013

I came round a bend in the Tai Po Kau forest path earlier today, wondering which animal was making all the rustling noises. Several Rhesus macaques looked up at me, and the smaller ones moved off and into the bushes. While part of me was delighted, my last encounters with these primates has been in the hills of Kowloon, where hundreds line the roads generally being a nusiance as people continue to feed them.
This turned out to be totally different though, and I had a magical half an hour as a troop of 40 or so slowly worked their way past me, behaving as wild monkeys should. They were feeding on wild fruits, preening themselves, calling between young and older animals, and keeping a distance from me.
I felt transported to an exotic land, it seemed more of a fit than an encounter in one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. But that's the wonder of Hong Kong for you, and why our natural areas are so worth protecting!
There are two species of macques found in Hong Kong. The Rhesus is much more common and AFCD estimates their numbers at about 1900 animals. There were only around 75 Long tailed macaques in 2003. I can't find an updated figure but there are also some hybrids between the two species. While the Rhesus is probably a native species to Hong Kong, it seems the ones existing today were re-introduced around 1910.



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