It will be a busy year for Andie Ang, president of the Jane Goodall Institute Singapore (JGIS), a non-profit that encourages and educates youth on issues around human community, wildlife conservation and the natural environment.
She is spearheading the No Feeding campaign — a collaboration between JGIS Primates Committee and the Long-tailed Macaque Working Group — to urge the public not to feed monkeys in the wild.
Feeding these creatures can alter their natural behaviour. As they become more dependent on humans, they may start entering residential homes to seek out food instead of finding their own. This can result in conflict between humans and wildlife.
Ang also hopes to change the negative perception of urban wildlife, like monkeys, pigs and snakes, through this campaign. “These animals need urgent protection. Compared to other wildlife, they are more frequently seen by humans near forest edges and residential estates,” says the 35-year-old.
“Take monkeys, for example. Their natural behaviour is not as aggressive as portrayed by the media. With more awareness and tolerance of wildlife, people can live in harmony with nature; that way, both can flourish.”
Ang’s passion for the cause goes back to the wild vervet monkey she kept as a pet when she was a child. She had received Ah Boy as a gift, not realising that it was illegal to keep one. Only after a few years of having Ah Boy couped up at home did she realise it was wrong to remove him from his natural habitat. She eventually had him repatriated back to Zambia.
Ah Boy became the reason Ang developed a passion to not just study but also protect primates as a research scientist studying monkey conservation with the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund. In 2014, she started volunteering at JGIS Primates Committee.
Ang, who was inspired by JGIS founder Jane Goodall’s “determination and perseverance, even during challenging times, to study and conserve critically endangered species”, continues to draw strength from those fond moments with her childhood playmate.
“In 2018, I travelled to Africa and saw wild vervet monkeys there. It made me emotional as memories of Ah Boy came flooding back. I still feel sorry about him being taken away from his home and I want to help put a stop to future occurrences.”
This story first appeared in the April 2020 issue of A Magazine.