A TROOP of more than 80 monkeys will soon be added to the southern town of Oslob’s list of viable tourist attractions.
The monkeys have settled on a hillside in Sitio Bulak in Barangay Hagdan, and have already attracted close to 4,000 visitors in the last month.
The site has become an alternative tourist attraction to the encounter with whale sharks in Barangay Tan-awan or the Tumalog Falls in Barangay Luka.
A monkey-watching tour has been organized by the Hagdan Oslob Monkey Protectors and Farmers Association (HOMPFA).
Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), though, plan to investigate the site to determine if the HOMPFA conducted its own environmental impact study on the monkeys and their relationship with humans.
Tereso Lungayan, HOMPFA vice president, said they opened the site to tourists a month ago due to the growing interest to see the monkeys firsthand.
Lungayan said they do not charge tourists for now since they are still securing permits from the DENR, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the Department of Tourism.
He said HOMPFA members underwent seminars on how to take care of the monkeys without disturbing their behavior and natural habitat.
The group also sought the assistance of zoologists and other wildlife experts to study the monkeys that have settled in the barangay and to determine a “carrying capacity” for tourists.
Starting at 6 a.m., monkeys can be spotted 15 meters from the national road. Around 10 a.m., they move closer to the highway, or 10 meters away. Starting at noon, they return to two big trees located a kilometer away in Sitio Upper Bulak.
Tourists who want to interact with the monkeys can pay P50 for a kilo of bananas that they can feed the animals.
Lungayan said they have set up rope fences to prevent the monkeys from descending on the highway.
Lungayan admitted that farmers in the area had regarded the monkeys as pests because the monkeys damaged their crops. To prevent the monkeys from becoming a problem for farmers, the group decided to seek the Oslob Municipal Government’s permission to feed the monkeys so they wouldn’t ruin any crops.
“When we got the permission, we slowly brought the monkeys here. Before, they avoided us entirely. But now, they have become accustomed to the presence of people,” Lungayan told SunStar Cebu. (FMD of SuperBalita Cebu/JKV)