Sunday, October 19, 2008


Monkeys help villager earn living


People in several villagers here faced a predicament while making preparations to welcome the recent Aidilfitri celebration. Their coconut trees are laden with fruits that can produce more I than enough santan (coconut milk) for their chicken curry, rendang, ketupat, lemang and dodol. But there were no people willing to climb up these trees to pluck the fruits, leaving the job to monkeys and their masters working feverishly to meet the overwhelming demand. “Look, there is a lot of coconut fruits but no one who can climb to pluck (the fruits). This Han Raya, I need a lot of coconuts and have to get them from the shop if no monkey comes around,” said Hamid Mat, in his 60s, when met at Kampung Paya here. According to Hamid, even though there were people willing to do the harvesting of coconut fruits, the number was only about two or three. “Not many are willing to do the job, what more during the fasting month,” he said. For the not so tall coconut trees, the villagers could still use long poles to pluck the fruits. Otherwise they have to resort to using the services of monkeys or pig-tailed macaque. Hence, it is no surprise if villagers decided to buy the coconuts from shops even though coconut trees are in abundance near their houses. For Mohamad Desa Yunos56, having two male monkeys aged two and half and three years I respectively, to pluck coconuts helps him earn a living. Assisted by nephew Hassan Ariffin, 48, Mohamad went around villages with his monkeys Awang and Leh to offer coconut- plucking services that draw encouraging response from the villagers. “Many need the monkeys to pluck coconuts particularly during the fasting month,” said Mohamad Desa, who is also known as Abang Cha and who had been involved in this industry since his youth days. According to Abang Cha, initially he reared the monkeys for fun but later the hobby grew into a sort of permanent occupation for him. “We charge three coconut fruits out of every l0 we harvested. If the owner wants to sell, we are willing to buy the rest of the fruits,” he said. The money earned from the job is good enough for the Kampung Kubang Pangas-born Abang Cha and Hassan who hails from Kampung Keda Wang near here. Another master of the monkey harvesters is 63-year-old Che Meh Ahmad, 63, from Pida Empat near here. He said the monkey possesses enough strength to pluck as many coconut fruits as possible. Che Meh said it is not easy to train the monkey to obey its masters’ instructions as the ape could be lazy or suddenly turn ferocious and attack any person it sees as a threat. Among the fears of the master is when the monkey decided not to follow instructions and instead of coming down, it might decide to take a rest among the palm fronds up on the trees. They have to be extra vigilant especially when the monkey gets amorous or during its mating season as the monkey could turn dangerous. - Bernama