Koh Chang’s Monkeys – Why You Shouldn’t Feed Them

Don't Feed the Monkeys

Don't Feed the Monkeys

Not a very nice sight is it? But this is happening more on Koh Chang as monkeys become more dependent on food given by humans and more frequently come down to the roadside.

I remember when seeing monkeys was relatively rare in the High Season.  ( I know that they are technically ‘macaques’ but they;re known as monkeys to pretty much everyone. ) They usually kept away from people and it was only in the rainy season, when I guess it was harder to forage in the jungle, that they regularly came down to the roadside and looked for food in bins.  But over the past few years their behaviour has changed.  And that’s not a good thing.

They do look cute and funny, but monkeys ‘macaques’ are wild animals and as such shouldn’t be fed.  They’re a common site in many places on the island in areas where jungle comes down to the roadside.  The main areas are on the big hill between the ferry pier and White Sand beach; in the centre of White Sand beach; on the roadside near the north of Lonely Beach and near Klong Kloi beach in the south of Koh Chang.  

And you’ll often see people in these areas feeding the monkeys with everything from fruit to bread and whatever human food they have on them.  And if you think fruit is good for them.  It isn’t.  Their natural diet contains very little fruit.  They don’t sit around munching bananas all day in the jungle. 

The National Park has put signs up telling people not to feed the monkeys, and there is a 1,000 Baht fine for anyone caught doing so, but the signs tend to be ignored.  

Why You Shouldn’t Feed Monkeys

1) They’re wild animals.  i.e. they aren’t pets and aren’t in a zoo.  

They don’t need you to give them food.  There’s no need for it.

For thousands of years monkeys have managed to live on whatever they can find in the jungle.  So you don’t have to be David Attenborough to realise that this seems to suit them and they’re in no danger of becoming extinct due to too much healthy eating and daily exercise from foraging for food.  

2) They have accidents

When they come to areas by the roadside then there’s a risk of monkeys being either attacked by street dogs or hit by cars.  ( See photo above again )  Monkeys are share around 93% of their  DNA with humans.   Mothers care for their young in the same way as humans do.  How would you feel if your young child was hit by a car crossing a road to get food from a stranger?

3) They get fat and lazy

The monkeys are going to get lazy & dependent on sugary food.  A bit like the human population is also doing in many countries.

If they know they can easily get whatever snacks tourists throw at them, then they aren’t going to bother making an effort to do what comes naturally and go looking for proper, healthy food.

Monkeys should travel 15+ Km a day to remain healthy.  If they know they just have to jump out of the tree and cross the road to where fruit will be waiting whenever they get hungry, they tend to get fat and lazy.  It’s like a human living entirely off  junk food who’s only daily exercise is picking up the phone to call Pizza Hut for a delivery.

4) They get very hangry.

If the monkeys don’t get their sugar fix then they get cranky and start searching for whatever they can find in garbage bins.  Again, this is far easier than spending all day running around the jungle.  Not only does this lead to them ingesting plastic – which isn’t a good thing – it also makes the place look a mess with litter strewn all around the bins.

5)  They can be dangerous.  

If they see you holding food and want you to hand it over they will become very threatening, especially the adult males.  

Your child will have nightmares when the cute, funny monkey, without warning, bares its teeth and rushes towards her, ripping the bag of fruit from her hands.  If you were bitten or scratched by a street dog then you’d go to the doctor and get a Rabies shot.  Same applies for monkeys, you’ll need a Rabies shot.  

Only you’ll probably also want to get some meds for  B virus herpes – as wild monkeys often carry that which can infect humans. Plus you might as well get Hepatitis B shots as well – just to be on the safe side.  That’s not going to be much fun for an adult, let alone a kid.  

All that just because you wanted to feed a monkey a banana it didn’t need.

So by all means take some photos when you see them.  They are fun to watch playing in the trees.  But DON’T do what the people in this video, taken on White Sand beach, are doing.

End of sermon.  You can go back to planning your holiday now. :-)


  • The point is when you feed them on the roads, they persistently go to the roads and stay on the roads waiting for food. Whereas if you didn’t feed them, they’d only rarely come near the road and they wouldn’t stay there for any length of time. The latter is going to result in fewer road deaths.

  • I don’t get this. If you don’t want the monkeys to be hit by cars, then don’t develop the island. Too late.

    If you build a house in the woods you get deer, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, birds, and every other kind of animal coming out to eat whatever you grow, or throw out in the trash. They also get hit by cars on the road every day. The problem isn’t feeding the monkeys, the problem is you put developments in their habitat, with roads cars and humans. Animals cross roads. Cars drive on roads. Animals get hit. No one is feeding wild raccoons that raid the homes of people. It’s the animals exploring, and when they find an easy source of food, they will stick around. It’s amazing birds are still able to fly with so many people providing easy meals for them with bird feeders.

  • A buddy took a photo of two macaques sitting on top of the sign “Please don’t feed the monkeys” across from the Park Ranger headquarters. Can you spell IRONIC???

    I’ll post it if he can send it to me…

  • Another good article Ian.
    Last time we were on the island somebody had dumped a massive load of chocolate & crisps on the side of the road on the hill just outside of Bangbao. The monkeys had gathered the booty & were eating it in the middle of the road. When we tried to pass them on our scooters they got quite aggressive as they obviously though we were going to take it from them – they may not be particularly big but an angry troop of monkeys is quite intimidating.

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