Watching our native long-tailed macaques forage in the morning is pure bliss. Moving through the trees, the troop is heard before they gradually appear, balancing on branches whilst fingering each fruit and young shoot, all whilst in formation. Their quadruple gait is stretched to the limit to explore permutations in the vegetation around them in search of food.
I am grateful that my student Joys Tan drags me out of campus, to assist her in observing their movement and behaviour. Breakfast in the forest for the monkeys begins at sunrise, which is a little earlier these days.
Researchers have identified at least ten troops of long-tailed macaques in Bukit Timah and environs, ranging in size from a few individuals to over 30 in number. They frequent the edge of forests so are easily observed, and some troops are habituated to humans, and may pass by closely. When they are not fed by humans, they explore the forest with an intensity for their morning’s breakfast, revealing the wonder of their morphological adaptations.