Education needed to shift attitudes towards wildlife

Educating the public on the human-macaque tension in some parts of Singapore is the right way to go (Expert panel set up to develop SOP for monkey problems; Oct 22).

However, the thrust of the educational efforts seems limited to practical advice on preventing undesired animal behaviour. This includes urging people not to feed the long-tailed macaques, keeping rubbish bins sealed, and keeping doors and windows shut.

There is little effort to actively target public attitudes towards the animals.

Thus, despite taking measures to reduce unpleasant encounters, people might still see macaques as aggressive, scary or a nuisance, and that the animals should be culled.

More can be done to expand and publicise existing efforts, such as the monkey walks conducted by organisations like the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore).

The expansion of such efforts into schools and monkey-prone areas should also be considered.

The use of virtual reality technology could be explored. This is increasingly being used to bring the natural world to people and to change attitudes by recreating positive encounters with animals.

Social media efforts, through infographics and videos, will also create more awareness. As a young person who uses social media regularly, I can see that there is limited presence of this issue online.

Shifting public attitudes is a major factor in ensuring harmonious human-wildlife coexistence.

If the public does not have a positive attitude towards wildlife, conservation efforts will be futile.

Esther Joy Ngi Jia Jia (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'Education needed to shift attitudes towards wildlife'. Print Edition | Subscribe