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The Untold StoryThe Untold Story

Where is Golden Hill aka Monkey Hill in Hong Kong ?

Kowloon reservoir and the surrounding hillsides, collectively known as Golden Hill Country Park, is home to 99% of wild monkeys in Hong Kong.

Getting to Golden Hill ( Kam Shan ) Country Park is easy for most people in Hong Kong – just hop on bus 72 or 81 or drive right through the country park in the comfort of your own car along Golden Hill Road to see the mischievous monkeys that make the place synonymous with them for most Hongkongers.


Travelling to Monkey Hill like a local on bus 81 for less than 1 USD each way !

Golden Hill road also doubles as part of a section of a long hiking trail, stage 6 of MacLehose Trail named after one beloved former Governor of Hong Kong. This popular trail, about 100km long traverses Kowloon from east to west mostly following the main mountain ridge on Kowloon Peninsular. It is against such fact that I came to know this road and later this place when I began to call Hong Kong home in 2009.

Murray MacLehose, 25th Governor of Hong Kong ( 1971-1982 )

Golden Hill Road is a cul-de-sac and is normally deserted as it only serves as an access road to the police shooting range and to various reservoir facilities inside the park only. The traffic only picks up after office hours on weekdays as people come to visit but that only amounts to a dozen of vehicles at most usually and on weekends the road is banned for any traffic between 9:00am to 4:00pm.


A moving time lapse shot of Golden Hill Road


An aerial view of the country park

As a matter of fact I tried to ignore our primate kin which share almost 94% of our DNA at first as I always and still think the best way for any wildlife’s conservation is to leave them well alone so as not to draw human attention to them.

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It’s better to just observe them from a distance….

However it then came the exception when I saw what human beings were capable of a few years back to inflict on these little critters.

I still remember vividly that it was a cool morning one day in November in 2011 as I hiked from stage 7 to stage 6 on the Maclehose Trail when I first bumped into a little macaque, no bigger than a small puppy with its right forelimb – if you could still call it as it’s avulsed from the shoulder and hanging limply and awkwardly down with most of the forearm element missing, leaving a red and angry open wound at its end emitting a low shrill cry, all alone by the kerb halfway along Golden Hill road.


A poor maimed macaque alone by the kerb 🙁

I guessed it was less than a year old then and normally an infant should be accompanied by its mother and so I was really curious and at the same time worried about it. Clearly at this young tender age it would still rely on its mother for milk and on its own in this shape it wouldn’t be able to forage anything meaningful to survive. There’s still a lot of skills it had yet to learn from its mother.


A baby would be wailing even if its mum is only a footstep away….

I waited at some distance away so as not to disturb the baby and hoping that its mother would somehow turn up to claim the baby miraculously.

As it began to pick off grit and other dirt from the wound I was really surprised how neat the wound appeared, in fact it’s like an amputation and I began to suspect it was the work of a trap – probably a steel-jaw type – which I later learnt from the local press that such devices were being discovered at a few other country parks at an alarming frequency. As most wildlife ( except wild boars ) is protected by law ( a legacy of its British past ) people suspected they were laid down illegally by smugglers coming from China across the border as game is highly sought for and valued medicinally in China so much so that most forms of wildlife are now extinct there. In Hong Kong however wild mammals like the Red Muntjac ( a kind of dwarfed musk deer ), pangolins, porcupines, civets, leopard cats, bats and wild boars are abundant and still roam free in large swathes of protected countryside that cover almost three quarters of all land area of Hong Kong, another legacy of its British past.

A red muntjac, this species of small deer is still seen and found in Hong Kong…

To make matters worst these mainlanders ( as opposed to Hongkongers ) seem to have de facto impunity under the new administration of Hong Kong as the authority would often not react or just let them off easily in petty crimes or even serious misdemeanours. No wonder these unscrupulous traders whether in animal or rare wood trade would come to Hong Kong to make quick money – a case in point is the protected Buddhist Pine ( Podocarpus macrophyllus ), an evergreen that is highly valued in China for its good Fengshui. Another is agarwood which fetches high price in the market for its aromatic resin. These two have almost all been cut down now by smuggling gangs coming from mainland China at night. Now they have turned their attention to less valuable but still highly profitable game trade.

illegal logging for agarwood in Hong Kong

My hope however grew thinner at each minute passed as the baby’s shrill became more desperate. It’s jittery and nervous but just when I was wondering whether I should call the appropriate authority for help ( whether it would response is another matter as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, SPCA, the R which stands for Royal had been dropped since the handover in 1997 to China is well-known for putting animals down only. Furthermore to catch an agile animal like a monkey on its home turf one would require more than just a few personnel, besides by the time they appear the animal would have been long gone into the woods ) an older female, probably its sister came to his side to comfort it. The maimed little critter huddled close and appeared to be pacified somewhat. No sooner had this happened an entire troop of monkeys appeared around this stretch of the road and the moment I tried to get closer to the maimed monkey a few became aggressive towards me. I knew then the little baby at least wasn’t abandoned by its troop.

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A female, probably his sister came to comfort him 🙂

But still there was no sign of the whereabouts of its mother. I suspected whatever was the cause of this little baby’s injury also claimed the life of its mother : if it was a steel-jaw trap the stronger bone of an adult meant that it was still immobilized by the trap and probably had died from a combination of both exhaustion and exsanguination. The small and brittle bone of an infant resulted in an instant amputation by avulsion. Whether it had scurried away in the subsequent confusion and pain or was simply ignored and pried away by the game smuggler as it still clung to its mother with its only hand left is really anybody’s guess.

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but he’s orphaned that’s for sure 🙁

The following weekend I came again specifically for the little critter – and there it was still in good health. The wound was still red and raw but at least it hadn’t deteriorated. As it climbed and jumped from tree to tree I knew the injury hadn’t incapacitated it – it’s still as playful and energetic as most other babies, a testament to our primate kin’s amazing tolerance and ability to survive. I also noticed it was receiving many treats from passers-by so obviously many kind-hearted locals were taking mercy on it. Given it was still in a troop and all the protection that came with it as long as the wound healed properly without complications this little baby should survive.

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He loves goodies 🙂

He has since been known as ” Stumpy ” for those who have been following his progress on youtube.


here’s Stumpy’s story in a nutshell 🙂

As I hiked along the road and really started to see these critters properly I became horrified at the sights of many injuries these poor animals suffered : some were missing an arm, others had their legs chopped off. A few babies were blinded, others were horribly disfigured – to the lay person they might think these were natural injuries but to the trained eyes, these were the result of machetes and even corrosive agents. Clearly there was an evil at work for quite a while here besides illegal poachers – an animal abuser. Judging from the injuries the perpetrator of such heinous crime had taken advantage of these poor animals’ trust on us so as to get close enough to commit such atrocities.

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A mother comforting a baby with skull exposed from the effect of some corrosives…

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The mother didn’t fare any better for she’d suffered total disfigurement on the other side. This female, a matriarch has since been named as Löwina….

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This was the last I’d seen of her baby …

For that this individual is even worst than the illegal poachers for he simply tortures and kills just for the pleasure and fun of such act. Clearly he’s not content with just simply drawing blood and was hell-bent on inflicting as much pain on the animals as possible hence he improvised with corrosive agents – which I suspected was some kind of chemical drain cleaners.

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Poor baby 🙁

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An infant blinded from some corrosives. I wouldn’t have noticed him had he not cooed for help…

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Another victim of some corrosives. Notice the massive tissue loss on left forelimb..

How could anyone hurt these animals who are one of our closest kin in nature ?

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Why ? What good does hurting them bring ?

I took many pictures of such instances of abuses and asked my local hiking buddy to write to the press and he duly did. It didn’t at first draw a lot of attention but soon word began to spread as people were disgusted by such cruelties. A few newspapers also picked up on the story as well as stashes of machetes, half-empty bottles of corrosives began to be found in various spots amongst the thick undergrowth inside the park.

Local press ” Apple Daily”‘s follow up on the abuses…

As more instances of abuses began to surface a demonstration against animal cruelties was called for as the public demanded actions from the government. That same year 2012 while I was away from Hong Kong news had reached me that by early summer enough momentum had been gained so much so that the administration could no longer pay a lip service to the demands of many animal lovers of the city and began to act, much like any bureaucrat – comically and ruefully inadequate by simply putting up giant banners inside the country park reminding people NOT TO HURT MONKEYS and TO REPORT ON SUCH INSTANCES and that FEEDING MONKEYS IS ILLEGAl and CARRIES A FINE OF AROUND 2,000 USD PER OFFENCE, much to the chagrin of all those concerned in the cause as the original demand to set up a dedicated squad to deal with animal abuses and to catch those responsible seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and continues to remain so till these days err …. on the laughable grounds of inadequate resources ( despite Hong Kong having the second highest ratio of police officer to citizen ratio in the world since the handover to China ) – not that the crime scene has deteriorated significantly since but that the alienating administration popped up only by China is feeling increasingly edgy as more people are displeased and disenfranchised by the political setup in Hong Kong, a case in point is the largely peaceful ” Umbrella Revolution ” in 2014 which saw tens of thousands of people, mostly students and young people who took to the street to demand China to stick to its original promise to grant people in Hong Kong at least UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. After nearly 3 months of street occupations, the movement lost focus and petered out and everything remains status quo if not worsened since ).

call the nearest police station if you see something not right ….


The movement demanding China to stick to its promise back in 2014….

People taking to the street in Central, HK in support of the ” Umbrella Revolution

Fortunately the exposure seemed to have stopped any further spate of abuses by the middle of 2012. The perpetrator(s) of such heinous crime though is still at large.

However there is no stopping to poachers and smugglers coming to Hong kong at night as the border is increasingly porous nowadays and the administration has no intent to patrol it like it was then under the British. After all Hong Kong is now part of China and the administration is only doing its bidding. And the police force is increasingly being used to stifle oppositions only, much like its counterpart in China.

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I love mum… please do not hurt her…..

I fear for all the wildlife in Hong Kong : not only are they being hunted their habitat will shrink as the administration is increasingly clear with its intent to cede piecemeal the once protected countryside to urban development as the city swells with immigrants from China – indeed some 2 million New Hongkongers have settled down legally as China continues with its policy to dilute the indigenous population of Hong Kong so much so to the extent that nowadays almost every one in three Hongkongers belongs to this new category – your average Mandarin-speaking and brain-washed mainlander Chinese, hostile to many western values and not very much law – abiding and worst still all bigot-minded. I’m sure you must have met one in your own country ! To make matter worst in this small city of 7 million it has to cater to the various needs of mainlander Chinese who swarm this overcrowded city by tens of thousands everyday ( in total about 45 million mainlander Chinese visitors per year ) as some vote with their money and feet on Chinese merchandise, others just want to take advantage of various legal loopholes to make a quick buck.

Once “ mainlandization “ of Hong Kong is complete which at this rate is not far off in the future it will spell the end of Hong Kong as we have come to know it, much like what’s happening in Tibet.

Sad.

32 thoughts on “The Untold Story”

  1. Steve Kossor says:

    Brilliant website.

  2. arrozmarisco says:

    Thank you. Now I’m getting the hang of the BuddyPress plugin 🙂

  3. Liz Plunkett says:

    Beautifully photographed, brilliantly written (and very discouraging) accompanying storyline. I have only had time to review the the Mischievous Monkeys of Hong Kong thus far but I am very excited to go through the many sites on your website. How exciting for you (and us the viewer) to have accomplished such a feat, creating a very professional, creative, engaging and informative website. I always feel that just saying ‘thank you’ is so in adequate but is always heart felt. Thank you for bringing your world into our world!

  4. Thank you very much for the website. Very informative. It help me understand.
    Thanks again…

    1. Penny Campbell says:

      Wonderful Website, so appreciated. Of course I don’t miss a video on YTube that you so skillfully create.

  5. Kathleen says:

    You would think with the ratio of highest police officer to citizen, they could have at least put a dedicated squadron to look over the safety of the monkey’s so no harm could ever come to them again. You very nearly pulled it off too!
    Fantastic website and stunning photos & videos. Thank you for all of your. Hard work! I hope you’re relaxing with a beer! 🙂

  6. Gitta Schulze says:

    Congratulations to your Website. Is it True arent there anything rangers zu sagen there Monkeys? Ist so sad in 2017. But Im glad about every New video. And there last One is sooo Lovely. But so dangerous for you?

  7. Michael West says:

    It will take me a few to get used to this but I will. Nicely done, worked and produced.

  8. KATHY HAGGERTY says:

    I SOOOOO LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR VIDEOS BUT NOW WITH YOUR WEBSITE, YOU’VE TAKEN IT TO “A WHOLE NOTHA LEVEL”! Lol I DONT COMMENT ON ANYTHING ON THE WEB BUT JUST FELT I HAD TO LET YOU KNOW……..”GREAT JOB”! I’LL BE SURFING YOUR SITE ALL WEEKEND! THANKS AGAIN.

    KATHY

  9. Thank you for the info about Stumpy, I assumed it was a trap, I have never been able to understand how anyone can be so cruel to hurt any animal just for the fun of it (myself I couldn’t for any reason other than to protect a child ) I don’t think some know how important monkeys are to the ecosystem.

  10. tanya juli says:

    Thank you for the backstory on this Arroz.
    The situation you describe for the natural habitat there really alarms and saddens me. I can’t however say I’m surprised. Urban people have less appreciation for wildlife and nature in general, and the Chinese arn’t all that different from other people in this, only in their ability to use state force to dominate and perpetuate the viewpoint.
    I am concerned for you however. Esp now with this website, it will be easier to identify you as an individual out there shooting since you’ve laid out your path for others to find you.
    You must take precautions and be safe. You’ve documented an important population and your subscribers are increasing at a fast clip and this could lead to problems for you by those against whom you speak out about.
    Please be safe and cagey.
    with gratitude, tanya juli

  11. James Simms says:

    There’s something goofy about the “Our Cast” portion. My iPad & laptop keeps knocking it off & I keep having to reload the website

  12. RustyAnne Yakel says:

    So sad to see the dissolution of Hong Kong. Keep fighting, keep video-posting, and know there are people who pray for you and your country. China is a cruel and vicious place, with rude and greedy people… stay Safe, Arroz

    1. Deb says:

      I think that is an unjust and sweeping observation. There are greedy rapacious people in every country. China has recently passed laws safe guarding wildlife and built sanctuaries. Any country willing to do that deserves our respect. You should probably differentiate between the Chinese govt and its peopl…

  13. Brian Stewart says:

    Thanks for all the hard work you do. You are truly dedicated to these little beautiful, wonderful furry friends of ours.. I love how you refer to them as ” our babies”, and I hope someday I’ll be able to travel and see them in person, although by then Dopey might be a grandpa.. anyway keep up the terrific work, your videos and storytelling continue to bring smiles and tears (of joy, sometimes sadness). You are very gifted and appreciated as well. Thanks and carry on!

  14. Debbie Earls says:

    Incomprehensible! 🙁 Truly hoping and praying urban growth doesn’t leave them homeless. 🙁 IC Martha and her eldest son from 2013 there. 🙁

    1. Debbie Earls says:

      That was supposed to be a smile there in the end for Martha and baby. 🙂

  15. Marina says:

    This is a great introduction to Hong Kong’s life, its problems with its neighborours and the story of the lovely little monkeys you follow. You do a great job, telling us all these. Thank you for sharing.

    Marina Spyridonos from Greece.

    I don’t have an account in WordPress, but I am not anonymous.

  16. Margaret Munro says:

    I love documentaries on wildlife, however your videos take documentaries to a whole new level. Teaching and informing in a most interesting way. Children could learn without thinking they were taking just another’s ‘lesson’ You make us feel almost a personal connection to these animals, part of their lives and their families so to speak. I always look forward to another episode but play the older ones over many times. They uplift me when I feel down. Please keep up the good work.

  17. Jason (jcastanza) says:

    Well said!

  18. Thank you for the add. The monkeys are fascinating creatures. I can watch them for hours. It’s a shame there are not any in my area but I can still watch them here. Someone asked me if I’d want one as a pet and I said no, they belong in the wild, not cooped up in a house. That would break their spirit, I’m sure.

  19. Nancy McIndoe says:

    Arroz I’m just getting started with your website but I’ve been watching your videos for about a month now and truly enjoy them and your commentary!! I’ve seen on your map where Monkey Hill is but I can’t figure out the road that goes through there. At first I thought it was closed off to traffic, then I saw a car and joggers!! It made me fearful for the safety of our dear monkey family. It seems however people and cars don’t bother them at all!!
    I saw several videos about Tiny and his mum and I keep looking for more recent ones but haven’t seen one since the end of last year or the first of this year. Can you spot them again and show us how they are doing Now? Please?!!
    Thank you for all of what you do for them and for us dreamers who wish we were there too!

  20. Nancy McIndoe says:

    Thank you Azzor for the update on Tiny and Tina!! It was good to see he’s still hanging in there. He is so CUTE!🐒 I was sad to see Nibby’s injury. I’m sure it looked worse than it is. I agree it looks fresh – like 2-3 days and yes it is good it appears to be only skin deep. Mum seems she’s going to take good care of it so infection might not set in. I love your version of how she got hurt!! It’s probably close to true. Again, thank you for keeping us a part of their life!

  21. BrittJuicy says:

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  22. I have been checking out many of your posts and i must say pretty clever stuff. I will surely bookmark your site.

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  24. Lora Wise says:

    Want you to know how much I enjoy seeing your videos. I never realize how they relate in a lot of ways like humans. I have been hooked ever since I watched the first video. I look forward to seeing more. You’re really good at what you do. Thanks for the hard work and endurance with them.

  25. Katherine Ashley says:

    Wow! That is just the best expression that I can muster after reading “The Untold Story” Arroz. Thank you so much for your insight and information about the monkies, their families and about your city, and the struggles it faces now. My heart was torn in two by the stories and the photos of the abused animals. Thank you for doing what you did to get their stories out there. I am a fairly new viewer of your videos and have been working to catch up and learn about these wonderful creatures. Your videos are beautiful, thought-provoking and educational. I hope you don’t get upset if I bug you with questions occasionally.

    From a dedicated new fan.

    Kathy Ashley

  26. KKossor says:

    I’m loving the new tweaks you’ve made. Brilliant! I am a frequent flyer here! Thanks so much!
    KK

  27. Felicia Mabrey says:

    To Mr Arroz Marisco
    I am having a problem concerning the person who copied your you tube channel and are using it as their own . I would like to know if there is anyway that I could contact you besides in the open comments . It is my understanding that you tube can’t or won’t help me or maybe I just don’t know where to find the help . PLEASE if you have the time contact me by email . Thank You for your time and have a nice day.

    1. Kathleen says:

      Hi Felicia
      I happened to be reading Arroz’s website and saw your comment here and remembered your name from You Tube. If you have a laptop or PC computer, I think there is a way to send Arroz a Private Message via his YouTube channel on the About Section. That used to be the way people could contact him. With all the changes YouTube has made recently, i’m not sure if that is still available. I always use Mobile Devices and that feature is not available on mobile devices. I hope that helps.

    2. arrozmarisco says:

      Hi Felicia,

      What problem is that person giving to you ? Let me know to see if I could help.

      Cheers. My email address is available on my channel if you click on ” about” in the headings.

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