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Monkey Business – A Thief Captured on Camera in Bali’s Monkey Forest



In Bali’s famous Monkey Forest, visitors are greeted with an unusual warning: hold on to your belongings, or the resident primates might steal them. This isn’t just a playful notice; it’s a genuine concern, as demonstrated by a recent incident caught on camera where a monkey swiped a tourist’s purse.

A Common Occurrence in Bali’s Natural Reserve

The Monkey Forest in Bali is renowned for its macaques, who have developed a reputation as opportunistic thieves. Multiple tourists have managed to capture footage of these monkeys in the act, snatching bags and personal items from unsuspecting visitors. The phenomenon is so regular that visitors are explicitly warned to keep a tight grip on their possessions.

One example involved a woman attempting to take a selfie. As she posed for her picture, a crafty macaque seized the opportunity to snatch her bag. The woman quickly attempted to recover her stolen item, but the determined monkey fought back, even grabbing at her dress.

Monkey Mischief Beyond Bali

This problem isn’t isolated to Bali’s Monkey Forest. In Gibraltar, the native monkeys have been known to not only steal from tourists but sometimes even become aggressive. The similarities between these incidents across different geographic locations highlight a global challenge in managing interactions between wild animals and humans.

Legal Measures and Health Concerns

In response to the recurring problem and additional concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Gibraltar took legal action in 2020. They introduced a bill modifying the Animal Law, making it a criminal offense to touch or interfere with the monkeys’ natural behavior.

This legislation also reflects past health incidents. In Gibraltar, monkeys had previously contracted Hepatitis A, and officials recognize the potential for humans to contract infections from these animals. These legal measures aim to protect both the animals and the people who come to see them.

A Complex Relationship Between Humans and Wildlife

The curious case of thieving monkeys in Bali and Gibraltar serves as a metaphor for the complex relationship between humans and wildlife in tourist areas. It raises questions about the responsibility of tourists, local authorities, and conservationists to maintain a balance that respects the natural behavior of these creatures while safeguarding human interests.

A Lesson in Respect and Responsibility

These incidents of monkey thievery offer a unique insight into the challenges faced by modern tourism and wildlife conservation. They are a reminder that respecting the natural habitat and behaviors of wild animals is essential.

As we continue to explore and enjoy the beauty of the natural world, these stories serve as a cautionary tale. They remind us of the importance of respecting boundaries and understanding that the wildlife we encounter in these spaces has its instincts and needs. These experiences should encourage a thoughtful approach to human-animal interaction, ensuring that both parties can coexist in harmony without harm or conflict.

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