Sacred Monkey forest Ubud Bali – Is it Safe from Rabies?


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Going to Bali, there must be lot of places on your bucket list. One of them is the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.

Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, or well known as Ubud Monkey Forest, is the sanctuary and natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed Monkey, scientific name Macaca fascicularis. It is located at Padangtegal Ubud, Bali.

Do you know that approximately 1049 monkeys live in this sanctuary. They are divided into 6 groups, namely in front of main temple group, forest conservation group, central point group, eastern group, Michelin group, and cemeteries group.

We also divide the monkeys by age: 63 adult male, 34 Sub-adult male, 219 Adult female, 29 Sub-adult female, 167 juveniles 1 (2-3 year), 118 juveniles 2 (1-2 year), 63 Infant old (5-12 month) and 56 infant. Sacred Monkey Forest Ubud is a famous tourist attraction in Ubud.

In every month around 120.000 visitors come to Monkey Forest Ubud. The Monkey Forest Ubud has 186 species of plants and trees in 12,5 hectares of forest. The Monkey Forest Ubud has 3 temples, namely Dalem Agung Padangtegal Temple, Holy Spring Temple and Prajapati Temple.

The forest owned by the Padang tegal community and is managed by Mandala Suci Wenara Wana Management. The purpose of the management is to keep sacred the place and promote the Monkey Forest Ubud as an international tourist destination. The Monkey Forest lies within the village of Padangtegal, which owns it. The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation center for the village.

As mentioned in the name, this place has lots of monkeys on it. Which in the fact, can carry the rabies virus on it body. In 2011, approximately 605 crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) – 39 adult males, 38 male sub-adults, 194 adult females, 243 juveniles, and 91 infants – lived in the Ubud Monkey Forest they are known locally as the Balinese long-tailed monkey. The park staff feeds the monkeys sweet potato three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, although bananas are for sale in the park for tourists wishing to feed the monkeys, and the monkeys also feed on papaya leaf, corn, cucumber, coconut, and other local fruit. For the sake of the monkeys’ health, visitors are prohibited from feeding them snacks such as peanuts, cookies, biscuits, and bread.

There are five groups of monkeys in the park, each occupying different territories; one group inhabits the area in front of the Main Temple, another the park’s Michelin area, a third the park’s eastern area, and a fourth the park’s central area, while the fifth group lives in the cremation and cemetery area. In recent years, the monkey population has become larger than an environment undisturbed by humans could support; it continues to grow, with the population density in 2013 higher than ever. Conflicts between the groups are unavoidable; for example, groups must pass through one another’s territory to reach the stream during the dry season, and increasing population pressures also are bringing the groups into more frequent contact.

The monkeys rest at night and are most active during the day, which brings them into constant contact with humans visiting during the park’s business hours. Visitors can observe their daily activities – mating, fighting, grooming, and caring for their young – at close range, and can even sit next to monkeys along the park’s paths. Park personnel carry slingshots with which to intimidate aggressive monkeys and intervene quickly in confrontations between monkeys and humans. Given the monkeys’ apparently increasing aggressiveness toward humans and the risk their bites pose to human health, Balinese politicians have called for a cull of crab-eating macaques in Bali. Authorities have not formally accepted these calls.

Then, after the explanation about the place, we can know that you can get bitten by the aggressive monkey in monkey forest. One of the risk factor that you may get is rabies. Rabies is a serious disease. It is caused by a virus. Rabies is mainly a disease of animals. Humans get rabies when they are bitten by infected animals. At first there might not be any symptoms. But weeks, or even months after a bite, rabies can cause pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, and irritability. These are followed by seizures, hallucinations, and paralysis. Human rabies is almost always fatal. Wild animals—especially bats—are the most common source of human rabies infection in Bali.

Virtually all infections with rabies resulted in death until two French scientists and developed the first rabies vaccination in 1885. This vaccine was first used on a human on July 6, 1885, on nine-year-old, who had been mauled by a rabid dog. Their vaccine consisted of a sample of the virus harvested from infected (and necessarily dead) rabbits that was weakened by allowing it to dry for 5 to 10 days. Similar nerve tissue-derived vaccines are still used now in some countries, and while they are much cheaper than modern cell culture vaccines, they are not as effective. Neural tissue vaccines also carry a certain risk of neurological complications.

Seems dangerous right? But you should come anyway to this place, because it is a worth place to see when you are traveling in Ubud Bali. Besides, this place is categorized as a safe place based on red lines of rabies that being created by the Balinese Government. However, we have to stay safe whenever we are going, right? So here, I will give you a guideline on how to stay safe during your visit in monkey forest in Bali.

There are a few guidelines you should remember and by all means abide if you want to have a good experience at this monkey forest in Bali. Most of the people who are telling stories about how they got bitten by monkeys failed to follow these simple rules. I am not saying that following the rules are a guarantee that you won’t get bitten but they definitely improve the chances of having an incident free experience.

The first thing you must do after buying your tickets is to read the guidelines listed right at the Monkey Forest entrance. Don’t underestimate their importance. Take your time and read them carefully. I will also list them below:

  1. Don’t hide food from the monkeys

This is the golden rule of visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest. Monkeys are very smart animals and they have a strong sense of smell. Trying to hide food from them is pointless.

They will find it and take it even if this implies opening your backpack. Tip: Don’t bring any food at all. You will see people trying to sell you bananas. Even if it sounds tempting, remember that food can transform a cute fluffy monkey into the devil itself. They love bananas and you are not going to break this love under any circumstances. Be sure to check all your pockets of any kind of food before entering the forest.

  1. Don’t panic

If the monkeys get close to you or jump on you, drop any food you have (and remember rule number 1 and cry) and walk away slowly.

  1. Don’t run

This is a big no-no. Even if you’ll try to run, they’ll run right after you and it will only get things worse.

  1. Don’t scream

At all times, keep calm and don’t scream. Screaming frightens them and makes them more aggressive

  1. Don’t bring plastic or paper bags

Does it look like something the monkey would want to play with? Then don’t bring it with you. Let’s keep the Monkey Forest litter free.

  1. Take care of your belongings

If you like your sunglasses, jewelry or accessories, then don’t keep them in plain sight. Monkey might like them too and we already know who’s going to win this fight. Tip: keep all your stuff well hidden in your backpack.

Remember that monkeys will open your backpack if they have the chance. It happened to us. It took the monkey less than 3 seconds to open it. My recommendation would be to leave your backpack at home and only bring your camera and phone. If this is not possible, then put your plastic bottles, rings, bracelets or coins inside the backpack. Once a monkey has your stuff, say goodbye to it.

  1. Don’t touch, grab or disturb the monkeys

Monkeys have unpredictable reactions and you wouldn’t want to trigger them. Therefore, don’t touch them and be extra cautious around baby monkeys. Their mothers are very defensive about their babies. Tip: when photographing the monkeys, keep a decent distance from them. Use your zoom to take close-ups and don’t use the flash.

  1. Don’t feed the monkeys peanuts, cookies, bread, snacks or drinks

The monkey’s diet is very important and so it is maintaining their health.

It may quiet a long list to do when you are in sacred monkey forest. But, we always want to stay away from Rabies right? Always obey the rule in there, and stay safe during your visit. If you still want to learn more about Rabies Vaccine and during your visit in Bali, or even you want to protecting yourself more by getting rabies vaccine shot you can go and contact Hydro Medical Bali.

They have clinic in Ubud, so it will make your access easier to reach your protection from rabies. They will provide you the information that you needed for Rabies Vaccine. Also, they will provide you the vaccine when you needed it with the handling of their professional health care. The most important thing is you can use your insurance to get your medical treatment in here. Happy sightseeing!