Gianyar – The New South Wales (NSW) Health Department in Australia has issued a warning to its citizens planning vacations in Bali. The official NSW Health account cautioned its residents to stay away from wild animals in Bali, particularly monkeys, as these primates could potentially transmit rabies.
According to detikBali, NSW Health reported that, throughout 2023, a total of 145 Australian tourists had been hospitalized due to animal bites and scratches. Most of them had previously visited popular tourist destinations like the Monkey Forest in Ubud and similar sites across Southeast Asia.
In response to this warning, I Wayan Buda, the Conservation Manager of Monkey Forest, stated that there have been no reported cases of tourists being bitten by monkeys in the Ubud forest area in 2023.
Buda emphasized that Monkey Forest management rigorously enforces strict monitoring of tourists entering and observing the monkey habitat to prevent any incidents that could endanger both tourists and the monkeys.
According to Buda, tourists are strictly prohibited from bringing food and beverages into the forest and from interacting directly with or touching the monkeys without the provided guides stationed every 100 meters within the Monkey Forest area.
“To ensure everyone’s safety, we also use loudspeakers to inform visitors about the rules within the forest,” Buda told detikBali on Thursday.
The Monkey Forest management team is also dedicated to maintaining the health of the monkeys. They are fed according to their natural habitat, with diets consisting of fruits, corn, and peanuts. Troublesome monkeys, such as those displaying aggression or causing harm to others, are immediately removed and taken to the animal health laboratory in Denpasar. This laboratory has been working in collaboration with Monkey Forest to ensure the well-being of the monkeys.
“While we don’t provide vaccinations for monkeys here, we maintain strict supervision to prevent any rabies-transmitting animals, primarily dogs, from entering this area, either by capturing or driving them away,” added Buda.
Additionally, two veterinarians are present at Monkey Forest daily to oversee the monkeys’ health.
To control the monkey population, sterilization procedures are carried out. Prior to sterilization, the monkey population could increase by as much as 200 individuals in a year. However, efforts have been made to limit this growth to a maximum of only 50 individuals. Currently, there are a total of 1,059 monkeys in Monkey Forest.
“All monkeys have been accounted for, with a greater number of males than females in the population,” Buda explained.
Tourist visits to Monkey Forest have been notably high throughout September. On average, there are 5,000 visitors daily, with foreign tourists accounting for 90 percent, while the remaining 10 percent are domestic tourists.