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Monkeys in Clementi estate: 'They're getting more aggressive,' says resident

Residents say the monkeys are a common sight in the neighbourhood, and have been getting more brazen recently

When a homeowner heard a noise coming from his kitchen in the early morning of July 16, he assumed it was his daughter getting a drink. 

Mr Ng, who wanted to be known only by his surname, lives with his wife, 63, and daughter, 30 in a fifth floor unit at Block 118 Clementi Street 13.

When his daughter did not respond to his calls, he ventured into the kitchen to investigate, and was stunned to find a troop of monkeys loitering about.

The “home invasion” is connected to a video that circulated online on the same day. It was taken by a neighbour from a block across, and shows the monkeys leaving Mr Ng’s unit through the kitchen window, and scaling down the walls to the ground floor. 

The video was first posted to the Facebook group Singapore Road Accidents.

Mr Ng told TNP that two of the monkeys were about a metre tall, and he believes they were the parents. He said there were six more monkeys scurrying about the kitchen. 

They initially showed no fear and stared back at him, said Mr Ng. It was only after he shouted and gestured that they retreated. 

His wife said the monkeys made their getaway with loot consisting of instant coffee packets along with a few chilli sauce sachets they had chewed through.

This was not the first time the residents of Block 118 had come across monkeys in the neighbourhood.

“We started seeing them about a year ago, and (six months) ago, we’d see them around our block downstairs in big groups of up to 30,” said Mr Ng.

Mrs Ng added that the monkeys had also wreaked havoc in a community garden that is tended to by residents. 

One of the residents had written to NParks about the matter, but Mrs Ng said no action had been taken. She added that NParks told them to simply leave the monkeys alone as they were in their natural habitat.

Mr Ng said the monkeys have become more violent and aggressive over time. 

“There are elderly residents and children around, and it’s starting to get dangerous for them. What happens if they attack everyone holding a plastic bag because they think they have food?” he said. 

The couple added that they are considering installing grilles on their windows, but for the time being would make do with simply closing them, despite the lack of ventilation.

“It’s best if HDB can do something to prevent them from climbing up the walls,” Mr Ng added.

Other residents TNP spoke to said the monkeys would gather at a bus stop near Block 116, as well as an overhead bridge further down the road.

Mrs Wong, an 80-year-old homemaker who lives on the sixth storey, directly above Mr Ng’s flat, said she saw monkeys leaving another neighbour’s flat with a bag of food two weeks ago.

She noticed the monkeys climb up a tree and jump onto bamboo rods meant for sunning clothes before making their way into the flat through an open window. 

Another resident, retiree Madam Tan, 73, said the monkeys have been seen at the community garden downstairs between 4pm and 5pm.

They would raid the garden for fruits and anything edible, she said, adding that on some occasions she saw up to 50 monkeys together.

In response to the incident, Dr Adrian Loo, group director, wildlife management, National Parks Board, said: “We are aware of the presence of a troop of long-tailed macaques in Clementi and we have been conducting visits in the area to advise residents on how to respond during macaque encounters.

“Feeding the macaques alters their natural behaviour and makes them associate humans with food. This may eventually lead to the display of assertive behaviour by the monkeys, such as grabbing plastic bags and food containers from people.

“We advise members of the public to keep plastic bags or food and drinks out of the sight of macaques when spotted. Members of the public may also call the 24-hour Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600 for wildlife-related issues.”

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