I am traveling to Bali in order to achieve my master thesis on primates (Macaques Fascicularis) in the well-known monkey forest of Ubud. This travel journal wont talk much about my research but will allow me to share my personal experience in the Balinese culture.
After saying goodbyes to all my loved one (which wasn't so "easy-peasy") I set-off for Jakarta for paperwork. Actually, contrary to what one says, I found this city pretty cool even though I have to admit beauty does not reached its peak and that the probability to get crushed by a motorcycle or car is quite high if you're not accustomed with this kind of trafic ! Sky have not been blue a single day because of the smog and poverty is ubiquitous in the midst of wealthy people. However, despite this, people are always smiling, and very nice, which give a sense of goodness to this city who unfortunately undergoes such dramatic living condition.
Let me introduce you ... my subjects and closest relative for the next four months : the long-tailed macaques of the Ubud monkey forest.
Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) come from the fascicularis lineage. This specie is widespread and is characterized as a large population, therefore, they rank among the least concern category in the IUCN Red list. A large percentage of macaques live in South and South-East Asia, where human population is on the rise resulting in destruction of macaques natural habitat and therefore in human- macaque interaction enhancement [Riley & al., 2016].
Human-macaques interactions have been reported to reach their peak among religious site where reside variety of monkeys [Schillaci & al, 2010]. In Bali, where Hindu and Buddhist religions are prevailing, macaques constitute a religious symbol. Therefore, monkeys benefit from a religious divinity status that allows them to receive protection from human beings [Sinha, 2011]. However, Fuentes [2005, as cited in Sinha, 2011] stipulates that Balinese monkeys living outside of religious building do not benefit of this status and so does not profit from human-protection. Therefore, monkey’s status seems to change depending on context [Schilaci & al., 2010].
Long-tailed macaques are old-world monkeys and belong to the cercopithecine family. Their social organization is considered as a strict despotic and nepotistic (act in favour of kin) hierarchy, therefore resulting in high degree of agonistic asymmetries between individuals [Flack & de Waal, 2004]. Moreover, long-tailed macaques populations are composed of matrifocal groups most of the time including 30 to 50 individuals [Fooden, 1995 as cited in Lane & al, 2010]. In this species, females are philopatric meaning they will live their entire lives in the group in which they are born whereas males will disperse to other groups once they reach sexual maturity [Gumert, 2010]. Hence, groups of long-tailed macaques are multi-male multi-female composed of native females and males migrating from other groups, which will after forging ties with females spread through other groups [de Ruiter & Geffen, 1998 as cited in Gumert, 2010].
As a first step, my job will be to identify individuals from the 5 different groups of monkeys present in this forest.
! Beware and do not trust appearances : These cute little fur balls are sauvage animals and may therefore sometimes turn into little devils...
Robbing objects and exchanging them against food is a wide spread behavior in the macaques Fascicularis' population of Uluwatu temple. This behavior is learned through social learning and has only been seen in this population of macaque Fascicularis, even though others (such as the one in Ubud) have the same environmental opportunities to develop this robbing-bartering behavior. We may therefore, talk about animal culture (http://www.reflexions.uliege.be/cms/c_452973/fr/le-troc-des-macaques-du-temple-duluwatu).
Besides this amazing behavior, Uluwatu temple is also an amazing place to visit, which offers admirable cliffs and small sandybeaches views.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er_k2vX4yyU (video of the robbing-bartering behavior in Uluwatu)
Had a day off yesterday and decided to visit part of the east coast. I spent major part of my afternoon drinking fresh coconut in a white sandy creek of Padangbai and did snorkeling. Water was full of colourful fish who, unfortunatly, were escorted by bonds of jellyfish... However, besides sunburns on my face and legs I had a great time !
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