Padang Tegal Monkey Forest
It is located in southern part of Ubud district, Gianyar Regency, about 28 kilometers from Denpasar. The monkeys within the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padang tegal are commonly called long-tailed macaques. Their scientific name is Macaque fascicular.
Macaques are found throughout Southeast Asia and many species of macaques live successfully in areas that are heavily utilized by humans. On Bali, there are Balinese long-tailed macaque troops (populations) that live in areas where they have little to no contact with humans and troops that come into contact with humans on a regular basis.
However, despite the fact that many species of macaques thrive in areas that are heavily utilized by human, there is evidence that the viability of Balinese long-tailed macaques (the ability of macaques to continue to thrive) may be dependent upon the conservation of Bali ’s forested areas.
Within long-tailed macaque societies, females are typically born into and remain with a single troop for life. In contrast, adult and sub-adult males may migrate between troops (young adult males typically leave their natal troop between the ages of 4 to 8 years.
In order for a migrating adult or sub-adult males to be accepted into a new troop, migrating males must align themselves with a troop ’s females and be accepted by those females. Therefore, long-tailed macaque societies or troops are made up of “Matrilines” (“Matri” is a root word that means “mother”).
Currently, there are approximately 222 (20 adult males, 79 adult females, and 123 young) Balinese long-tailed macaques that inhabit the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. However, these long-tailed macaques do not belong to the same troop. In fact, within the Sacred Monkey Forest, there are 3 distinct troops.
Tourists tend to have a difficult time identifying the Sacred Monkey Forest’s long-tailed macaque troops. One reason for this is that the areas(s) that each of the troops primarily occupies, within the boundaries of the Sacred Monkey Forest, changes over time.
Changes in the range of each troop, is dependent in part upon variations that occur in the number of individuals within each troop and changes that occur in each of the troops’ composition (the age and sex of individuals within a troop).
Finally, tourists have a difficult time identifying each of the Sacred Monkey Forest’s long-tailed macaque troops, because there can be extensive overlap between the ranges of all the Sacred Monkey Forest’s troops. This overlap in ranges occasionally causes inter-troop conflicts to break out (conflicts break out between 2 or all 3 of the Sacred Monkey Forest’s macaque troops).
As a result of these conflicts, it is not uncommon for troops to engage in violent physical clashes. Although it is rare for individual macaques to sustain life-threatening wounds, as a result of taking part in an inter-troop clash, it is not uncommon for macaques to sustain wounds that leave permanent scars.
Throughout Bali, Balinese long-tailed macaques tend to stay within forested areas. However, Balinese long tailed macaques, including those within the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, occasionally wander into rice fields or even village areas that are adjacent to forest.
Outside of forested areas, monkeys can become pests and the Balinese tend to apply whatever means necessary to protect their crops and other property. The Sacred Monkey Forest’s long-tailed macaques are the subject of an ongoing research project that is being conducted by the Balinese Macaque Project.
The Balinese Macaque Project involves researchers from the United States, Guam, and the University of Udayana (Bali, Indonesia). To date, the Balinese Macaque Project has conducted research to determine the mating strategies, migration and range patterns, dominance relationships, and habitat use of Balinese long-tailed macaques.
The Balinese Macaque Project hopes that such research will facilitate the development of conservation strategies for Balinese long-tailed macaques and sites like the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padang Tegal.
The presence of sacred forest is a demonstration of the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. In Bali, sanctuaries such as Monkey Forest are usually in sacred village areas, often surrounded by temples. These” cultural” sanctuaries are not only an important part of Balinese heritage, but also an important part of everyday live. Temple festivals are regularly held for the villagers and the gods in such areas.
A Balinese temple is more than just a collection of pagodas and pavilions. The area enclosed by temple wall and the forest area surrounding it is sacred. These temples and the forest are essential for renewing contact with the spiritual world.
The activities associated with these areas are essential in maintaining harmony between humans, nature, and the cosmos. Not only are ancestral spirits and gods given offerings and prayers but also the spirits of trees and statues in the Monkey Forest are given offerings and prayers by the Pemangku and local villagers.