Macaques Show Dual Nature in Bali

July 22, 2011
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Fuzzy, grey-bearded faces peer out at visitors as they enter the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal in Bali. The four troops of Balinese long-tailed macaques in this forest are protected by Hindu values, offering visitors a unique nature travel experience.

Visitors have a good chance of seeing a macaque in the forest, as there are roughly 340 of them residing there. They live in distinct troops that occupy certain areas of the forest and very occasionally have violent inter-troop conflicts, according to the forest's website.

Throughout Bali, macaques like to stay in the forests, though they sometimes wander into fields and villages and pester people. Despite their sometimes irritating invasions, Hindus in Bali believe them to be particularly significant. In Balinese Hinduism, the moneys can be the embodiments of both positive and negative forces, as reflected in a popular Indian poem called Ramayana.

Because of this dual nature, Balinese people tend to both despise and worship monkeys. Hindu temple sites like the Sacred Monkey Forest go to all ends to protect and revere the monkeys, because the animals are believed to be able to guard temple sites against evil spirits. Their negative reputation is shown when they raid crops or stores.

You can make up your own mind about the macaques when visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest as part of International Expeditions’ new Bali and Komodo expedition.

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