A picturesque Chinese village where humans live alongside hundreds of macaques sounds like a great vacation destination, but for the local population it’s apparently a daily living hell.
A little over a decade ago, authorities in Xianfeng village, in southwestern Sichuan Province came up with an ingenious plan to boost tourism and turn their quaint settlement in one of China’s most popular destinations – attracting wild macaques from the surrounding mountains to their village. Locals spent 48 days drawing in 73 monkeys using food, and their plan worked like a charm. The animals started settling in, and as word about a real-life monkey village spread throughout the region, businessman interested in investing in the novel tourist attraction arrived in Xianfeng.
It wasn’t long before the small village transformed into the tourist magnet people had envisioned when they cam eup with the idea of drawing in wild macaques. For years, it attracted both curious visitors and wealthy investors, and villagers felt like they had built their very own goldmine. But everything changed two years ago, when main investor Zhou Zhenggui passed away, and his tourism company collapsed. The relatively small number of macaques originally attracted to Xianfeng had multiplied to a population of over 600, and they all relied on their human neighbors for food. Only without the support of Zhenggui’s company, villagers couldn’t afford to pay for it.
Having accepted the demise of their once great tourism project, villagers expected the now starving macaques to leave Xianfeng in search of food, but the monkeys had other plans. They had grown so fond of their home that they decided to stay indefinitely and do anything in their power to survive. That meant terrorizing the villagers, damaging their crops and homes, and fighting among themselves for food.
Residents of Xianfeng had only considered the positive effect of their monkey village idea, but had failed to foresee the negative consequences. And since macaques are a Class II national protected species, they had limited options of dealing with the animals. Over the last few years, animal experts have been placing traps around the village and have managed to trap and send away about 300 monkeys, but the remaining 300 are still terrorizing the locals and multiplying at an alarming rate.
Try as they might, Xianfeng villagers can’t seem to get rid of the macaques they once worked so hard to attract. Experts say the animals are determined to stay in the mountain village and locals will just have to learn to co-exist with them until they decide to leave of their own accord. Whether that will ever happen, nobody really knows.
The story of China’s monkey village and its problems has recently gone viral in national media, and everyone seems to agree that it teaches us a valuable lesson – there is a clear boundary between man and nature, and attempting to exploit wildlife in search of economic gain clearly never ends well for any of the parties involved.
Photos: Tuotiao (Chinese)