Old World Monkeys – Small Monkeys and Batu Putih 2
… The patient ranger, who looks like he played in the sun all the time unlike the renowned north sulawesian of fair skinned type, drove the motorbike a little further and stopped in a midst of the tall grasses in a small animal track. ‘Let’s continue on foot here.” He said. He got off the bike after me, leaving it just by the edge of the tall grasses.
He walked ahead almost silently off from the clearing, to the woods of trees with low hanging branches, ocassionally he quietly told me to watch out for some plants with thorns. I walked carefully, mostly looking down, slightly afraid that I might step on a snake. After only a few minutes, I sensed that he had stopped. As I look up searching for him, I saw him stopped a few feet away from me, looking up, signaling for me to be quiet and to come a little closer. When I reached him and gave him my very confused look, he pointed all around us was a group of wild Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra), also known as the crested black macaque, approximately 20 to 30 of the monkeys. Some of them were hanging on the low branches, some on the ground sitting, walking, eating either their own tick or some leaves.
This guy was about 2 metres from my leg!
What I can’t believe that moment is that, how is it possible that I didn’t notice or was aware there is a bunch of animals around me, pretty big ones at that.
Then I asked him super quietly whether or not I can take a picture and whether they won’t mind. He said ‘yes, but don’t point your camera at them too long, one shot then pretend you are looking at something else, you can do this several times.’ Argh I thought to myself, these are the moments that I needed to practice my photography skills for, of being precise and effective. Both of which I don’t have.
These macaque, also called Yaki by the locals, are Old world monkeys, they belong to a group in the super family primates (Cercopithecoidea) along with human species. I have only just learnt this too. As their name they are endemic to Sulawesi, and some neighbouring islands.
I took several wobbly pictures, we stayed there a while longer to watch the monkeys minding their business, and also fall down the trees. Which was really funny. All very surreal because it seems weird to be surrounded by wild monkey with no protection at all. They are really not like the tiny monkeys you can find in some Bali temples.
The ranger then start to walk back towards the motorbike. I asked when I feel that we have some distance from the monkeys about them. He said that they have a few groups, some ar pretty laid back with human, some are still thoroughly wild. He said it is very much depends on the alpha male. For conservation purposes, they never show the later type to visitors, but still have some researcher following them.
As we reach the motorbike, we both hopped on and I wondered where he will take me next…