Taipei, The township of Yanping in Taitung County has reached its limit with the problem of trying to protect its farm crops from a destructive yearround pest and is now taking the step of hiring a monkey chaser, a local official said Wednesday.
The problem is most prevalent on Yanping's fruit farms, where monkeys ravage the produce as soon as it is ripe, leaving only the fruit that is not sweet or has flaws, said Hsu Hungwen at official at the Yanping Township Industrial Tourism office.
On Wednesday, a pineapple farmer in the eastern county woke up to find bits of fruit scattered all over his farm after a raid by monkeys, Hsu said. So far this season, the farmer has lost half of his 3,000 pineapples to the pest, Hsu added.
The Taiwanese macaques, the most prevalent primate species in the area, tend to eat almost everything they find on a farm oranges, pineapples, peaches, papayas and even corn Hsu said.
Sometimes the monkeys would take one bite of a fruit and then toss it away if they do not like the taste, he said.
According to a village chief, the pests not only ravage crops but they bother farm animals with actions like grabbing a chicken and running up a tree with it, or jumping on the back of pig.
Hsu said that over the years, farmers have been trying to repel monkeys by setting off firecrackers or using slingshots to lob pellets at them. Those methods, however, have proved ineffective and too time consuming for the farmers, he said.
The township, therefore, has decided to hire a monkey chaser at a monthly salary of NT$23,000 (US$733), Hsu said, adding that the application period will be July 412.
The worker will be assigned to designated fields, in particular from July 17 to August 31 during the pineapple harvest season, to chase off the monkeys, Hsu said.
According to the Taitung government, the county's monkey population is around 30,000, scattered across five townships, and the estimated farm losses caused by the pests amount to an average NT$100 million per year.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel