Why the monkey, tourist combo is a disaster waiting to happen

Monkeys

Monkeys know just how to get what they want. Source: Shutterstock

TAKING selfies with monkeys seems like a great idea until they steal your possessions and attack you. 

This was the unfortunate reality for two French tourists at India’s Taj Mahal. The sightseers were left with nasty scratches and bite marks after being attacked by a troop of monkeys.

While tourists are encouraged not to feed the cheeky primates, sometimes their quietness is mistaken for cuteness, and people get too close.

Then they spring their attack.

Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, is reportedly home to 10,000 of India’s 50 million monkeys.

They are fed by Hindus who worship the Monkey God, Hanuman, and so have become accustomed to being treated well and expect food.

Other monkeys, however, have learned how to hold stolen items ransom in return for food.

According to a study by Fany Brotcorne, a University of Liege primatologist discovered monkeys have learned to steal an item and hold it for ransom.

The study was conducted at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali Indonesia.

For years, macaque monkeys have been grabbing glasses, cameras, and wedges of cash from ticket booths then waiting for stunned tourists to offer up food.

Most of the time, a site warden will come to their aide, and the ransom is fulfilled with snacks.

For a long time, it was believed this learned behavior was isolated to this specific Indonesia-based temple.

But the monkeys of Taj Mahal have also been displaying mafia-style techniques to get food, Sharon Stephenson shared with Stuff.

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to convince a monkey to give you back your jandal. I, apparently, have chosen the wrong one,” she wrote.

Stephenson experienced “mischevious monkey business” first hand when one stole her sandals outside Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, also known as the “Baby Taj.”

The naughty primate only returned her shoes when the tour guide threw a packet of peanuts at it. Even then, it sniffed the packet while still clenching the shoes until it was sure it wasn’t being conned.

Don’t fall victim to this monkey business

Staying smart around sneaky monkeys can be the difference between keeping hold of your valuables and going home empty-handed.

So, here are a few tips to outsmart the “terror monkeys’:

1. Be vigilant of the alpha males 

These are usually the larger gray-haired monkeys and can turn aggressive quickly. If one of these has stolen your goodies, go and get some help from park rangers.

2. Don’t eat food in front of them

They are motivated by food. If you snack on a rustling packet of chips or chomp away at a Twinkie, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll swarm you.

3. Don’t wrestle with them

Never tug on your belongings or attack a monkey. They will fight back, and they don’t play fair.

Most of the time, if a determined monkey has stolen something of yours, it is already too late. Let it go.

If you’re in a location where monkeys have learned ransom techniques, grab some food and bribe them.

4. Monkeys don’t smile

If you see a monkey’s teeth, walk away. Baring their teeth is a sign of aggression.

5. Make yourself bigger

In a rare case, a monkey may try to attack you. After all, they are wild animals.

If you feel threatened, make yourself bigger by standing up tall, make loud noises and wave your arms around. If this doesn’t scare them, it will attract attention and someone may help.

6. Seek medical attention

If you happen to be bitten or scratched, make sure you clean the area and apply antiseptic straight away. Then seek medical attention ASAP to safeguard against infection.