Monkeys are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, after humans of course. Despite their intelligence, they have become a target for many who live in areas with large monkey populations, such as Bali, Indonesia. While many farmers may view monkeys as pests, the Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest is doing its best to preserve their temples, the surrounding forest and the monkeys that call it home.
- Balinese long-tailed Macaques – Photo courtesy of Rajesh
This reserve is located on a sacred Balinese Hindu site and holds 3 temples, including the Pura Purana which dates back to the 1400s. It is possible that a number of other temples once existed here but that they were destroyed. This is common as temples are commonly built out of soft volcanic rock which quickly deteriorates in the tropical climate.
Temples are commonly found in areas of forest and are often located near ravines as these areas are believed to hold the most spirits. The area that surrounds temples is considered to be essential for renewing contact with the spiritual world. Many of the plants and trees found in the temples vicinity are used for religious ceremonies and celebrations or for creating herbal remedies for ailments ranging from a tooth ache to diarrhea.
The monkeys also have a purpose; they are believed to have the capability of protecting temples from evil spirits. Apart from their religious application these monkeys bring a certain excitement to the sanctuary. The monkey population at the preserve has flourished and now over 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques live in the area.