Nature in Hong Kong
Hong Kong S.A.R., China
22° 25′ 39.1152″ N, 114° 12′ 10.3716″ E
Hong Kong is generally known for its towering skyscrapers, bustling harbor and crammed apartment buildings. While this is generally true, especially at the heart of the city, these marks of civilization quickly fade away once you reach the New Territories. The New Territories is an area north of the city center that is relatively undeveloped due to its distance from the center. However, with the rapid growth of Shenzhen, a neighboring city in the north, the New Territories is now more accessible than ever.
The New Territories area in Hong Kong is filled with mountains, forests and beautiful scenery. Although you can never truly escape the urban landscape that Hong Kong is so famous for, you can experience Hong Kong’s undeveloped treasures when you visit the New Territories. The nature there always surprises me pleasantly when I decide to explore. One day, while hiking at Kam Shan Mountain with a friend, I got to see wild monkeys. I was extremely surprised, because I had no idea that monkeys live in Hong Kong. I had never seen a wild monkey before!
What does this creature or plant look like?
After doing some research, I found out that the monkeys I saw were called rhesus macaques. They are either brown or grey in color with a pink, hairless face. They have a rather short tail that is around nine inches long. The size of the monkeys range greatly. I would say they are mostly around the size of a puppy, with some that are smaller and some that are larger. They have hands and feet like humans, and they seem to be very intelligent creatures. I found out that when you bare you smile at the monkeys, they often times smile back!
How did I feel when I saw it?
At first, I was very surprised because I had not expected to see any monkeys in Hong Kong. My image of Hong Kong was previously dominated by skyscrapers, restaurants, shopping malls and people. This event helped me to see Hong Kong in a different light. The Kam Shan Mountain park is a very beautiful nature preserve, and I felt in awe of the natural scenery and wildlife here.
Where does it live?
The rhesus macaques that I saw in Kam Shan Mountain are not entirely native to the area. After doing some research, I found out that these monkeys live all around Southeast Asia, from India to Vietnam to Southeast China. In Hong Kong specifically, these monkeys had been hunted to extinction before they were reintroduced in the 1920s. Now, there is a thriving population of rhesus macaques in Kam Shan, but the population is limited to the mountain.
How does it use its environment to survive?
The rhesus macaque is an extremely intelligent animal and is able to use its brain for survival. They are able to understand simple rules and have some degree of self-awareness. They are estimated to consume around 99 different plant species in 46 families. During the monsoon season, they get much of their water from ripe fruit. Macaques living far from water sources lick dewdrops from leaves and drink rainwater accumulated in tree hollows. They have also been seen eating termites, grasshoppers, ants and beetles. They drink water when looking for food and gather around streams and rivers. In addition, they have a complicated social structure that helps them to survive better in the wild.
What can harm this creature or plant? Are we worried about it?:
There are no natural predators of the rhesus macaque in Hong Kong. However, animal poachers and hunters have been hunting monkeys either for their own pleasure or to sell them on the black market. The Hong Kong government has tried to stop this by enforcing a strict penalty of $20,000 and one year in jail for people who are caught harming or hunting these monkeys.