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The different troopsThe different troops

The story starts with monkeys or else there won’t be a place called Monkey Hill in HK.

There are about 2,000 wild monkeys in HK of which about 1,700 call Monkey Hill their home nowadays.

There are about 30 different troops and the four most powerful of them have all vied for the control of Golden Hill ( aka Kam Sham ) Road and the three visitor car park areas over the years.

The four major players are known as Skull Head, Biggie, Thickie, Cleftie  of these I only really know Skull Head’s troop a bit better as his troop is often unavoidable on Golden Hill Road, the rest I got my information from the locals. Their abode is not fixed and they do roam in the mountains, sometimes to more remote places as well !

Where the four major troops are likely to be seen

Monkeys have been seen playing here before ! That’s a good 8 km from monkey hill !

Skull Head’s Troop

Matriarch: Sarah

Alpha male: Skull Head

This troop has undoubtedly the most well known monkey in the whole of Monkey Hill- Skull Head and his face has been featured in government brochures on Monkey Hill at least in the last two editions 🙂

Skull Head, Sarah and family….

This troop is the most powerful of all the troops there and is between 400 to 600 strong with members drawn from Mr Seven’s original troop as well as defectors from the other three main troops. Reportedly his is the largest troop ever documented in the literature. I have to admit I could count probably about a 100 of them each time I see Skull Head loitering around, the rest probably would appear from hiding in the trees I guess if someone dumps a truck load of goodies on the road.


I used to think this was Mr Seven until a local told me he hadn’t been seen for years, presumably dead. Anyway that’s what a loser looks like 🙁

This troop has at least 10 lesser alpha males who do Skull Head’s bidding. I really don’t see him fight often but he is one with such an imposing statue that all others will quietly back off when they see him.


Bossy’s troop retreating as Skull Head’s is advancing

He is about 15 years old now and has sired many offspring. The matriarch Sarah is relatively young, probably about the same age as Nora in another troop. I reckon she is about 7 to 8 years old only and has at least borne Skull Head three kids since I began to follow Bossy’s troop in the summer of 2016.


Sarah with her baby boy in 2018

Sarah is also known as the super mum as she had been seen to carry not one but 2 kids to take them safely to another feeding ground some distance away.


She’s loving and strong !

Another older female with ectrodactyly also seems to be a high ranking female there – as she has that deformity she is likely to be a defected elder from Cleftie’s troop originally.


There she is, the elder with cleft hands !

Whenever you see a member of his troop along Golden Hill Road you know it would be difficult to see any other troops as they would all go into hiding.

Biggie’s Troop

I’ve never seen this troop properly which numbers about a hundred but I’m sure I must have stumbled upon its members unknowingly. Before Skull Head’s arrival to the scene this troop boast the beefiest α male hence its name. Apparently since Skull Head’s ascension this particular troop has retreated to the woods in the nearby Jubilee Reservoir ( Shing Mun ) area.

Thickie’s Troop

It’s so named because it is headed by a rather friendly male who would let feeders pet him. Because of his mild temperament people think he’s rather thick. He apparently has lost his territory to Skull Head and has been pushed to operate mainly in Eagle’s Nest Hill area east of Golden Hill Country Park and his troop is known to wander downhill into nearby residential blocks in Tai Wai to raid for food unfortunately 🙁

His troop nowadays give his folks a bad name….


Monkeys raiding apartment blocks in Tai Wai

Cleftie’s Troop

A dominant hereditary trait runs in the matrilineal line in this troop as all succeeding matriarchs have been noticed to have cleft hands ( echodactyly ) hence my nickname for this troop. They too have been pushed out by Skull Heads’s troop but they are luckier for they still retain control of the visitor car park area by Tai Po Road and I have to say they seem to be doing rather well there.


I think these females are related to this troop:)

The beautiful blond by the bus stop also belongs to this troop and as she has normal hands she can’t be very high-ranking in the troop !


She also belongs to Cleftie’s Troop 🙂

Jubilee troop

This troop is a mega troop with over 200 members excluding babies and juveniles. There is a possibility that they could be related to Biggie’s troop. This troop comes only to Monkey Hill to stay in the winter months from their home turf in Jubilee Reservoir ( Shing Mun ) country park 3km north, as such they are not considered to belong to Monkey Hill. Their presence nevertheless could be felt as they push and reshuffle other lesser troops along Golden Hill road.


That poor old gal is from Jubilee troop too…

This is the only troop which could resist Skull Head’s troop and the two have since learnt to keep a distance from each other to avoid conflict.

The other monkeys are distributed into twenty odd smaller troops which number between a few ( yes , just a few !) to a few dozens.

Ragtag Troop

Matriarch: Annie

Alpha male: Batman

This used to be the most pathetic group which originally counted on two individuals only – an overbearing matriarch Annie and a rather lazy and beefy male known as Batman ( for his pointy high-set ears) and less than a dozen older females, most of them seemed to be rather laid back and uninterested in the leadership. They also have a few drifters who come to join them from time to time without much loyalty ( Lubby, Wibby and Dana are the ones we know of now as we’ve seen them coming to and fro between Annie’s troop and Bossy’s troop from time to time ) . Since early 2017 this troop had finally taken Stumpy into its core leadership but he’s not actually very liked by Annie for he’s probably related to her but he had proven his worth by defending the troop many times in turf wars.


Stumpy has one hand but he’s not disabled !


At long last Stumpy is seen as a worthy member and a leader too 🙂


and finally a female Alma has borne him a son 🙂

At first this troop wasn’t a threat at all to anyone and the bigger players tolerated their presence in the vicinity but in the last 2 years this troop has really grown now they are seen as competitors by the latter and are no longer welcomed anymore. However its relationship with Bossy’s troop seems to be a intriguing one – perhaps Annie is related to them ?


Do they know each other ?

I love this troop because of Stumpy and Lubby. The latter seems to have finally settled ( though half-heartedly ) in with her kids.


Lubby & Dubby back in 2016…..


But she still comes to Bossy’s troop to visit though….

The Defaced Matriarch ( Löwina ) ’s troop

Matriarch: Löwina

Alpha male: Leo

This was once a rather big troop and quite powerful too but they had been decimated by a combination of bad luck and indiscriminate human intervention.

Thinking about it I remember I used to run into them on my hiking trips there in the early days before I got interested into monkeys. Then came the animal abuse on the monkeys in 2011 when the once beautiful young strapping matriarch was attacked and became defaced in the incident. She and her troop seemed to have borne a big brunt from the abuses and has been weakened ever since. But then came the government sterilization program and they seemed to have been targeted unfairly that left most of its females sterile and the final straw came when their alpha male Leo was also nipped subsequently a year or so later. The defaced matriarch is one of the few odd females that are left fertile ( the others are Donna and Nana ) but it’s not going to reverse their fortune any more even if they are left to their own devices.

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That was Löwina back in 2011 when she bore horrific injuries from an acid attack 😡


Some humans are sick….

Nowadays Löina and her troop, about two dozen strong is so marginalized that they are chiefly found in the grounds of the pavilion near the top of the road, away from most of the feeding.


An early glimpse of them in this video…


I am glad that she has had two more daughters since…

The poor Valorie, a young female with leontiasis ossea who died in Oct 2016 was one of the very few fertile female left in this unfortunate troop.


Poor Valorie did suffer a lot….

Nora’s Troop

Matriarch: Nora

Alpha male: Bruce

This troop normally occupies the beginning of the uphill part of Golden Hill Road near the dam. It was originally named as the ” Little Prince’s troop ” as its star was the matriarch Nora’s baby son, born in May 2016 and was called jokingly as the Little Prince then ( now known as Vince ) as compared to other babies born to this troop in the same period he was obviously doted on by everyone there, including another powerful figure, the senior female Nan.


My first encounter with this troop

There are about 30 members in this lesser troop and they are very protective of their juveniles, I had great trouble to film Vince even at some respectable distance. Things however have changed in the last year or so as they have got used to my presence better. It still means a good distance but at least those females will no longer charge at me again.


Nora had Cessa in 2017 who only lived for about 2 months 🙁


and Nick in 2018…

Their turf is normally the short section of the road running between the main dam and the first pavilion. This section also sees many lone bachelors, most frequent of them is Mr Buff. He did try to get accepted into Nora’s troop but without much success. He did have a fling with Xena in Nora’s troop and that was it. Since mid 2018 he hasn’t been seen and I presumed he had lost the turf war as another lone bachelor male has taken up his position.


Mr Buff’s fling with Xena

The Little Devil’s Troop

Matriarch: Little Devil’s mum

Alpha male: not identified yet

I know even less about this troop but they do have a star as well – the rather devilish-looking baby with his fearsome matriarch mum. Their troop is usually found if at all just beyond the pavilion at the top of Golden Hill Road. Since the arrival of the mega troop from the Jubilee reservoir north of Monkey Hill they haven’t been seen since late 2017. I suppose they must have moved to avoid confrontation with Jubilee troop.


My very first encounter with Lil Devil


Another encounter in December of the same year ( 2016 )

I have yet to be certain who the α male is in this troop but their matriarchs are unmistakable as there are two and they are likely to be sisters.

See the two females in the centre ?

https://youtu.be/LCyq3cKeSdgMy
last proper sighting of this small troop 🙁

Fleur’s troop

Matriarch: Fleur

Alpha male: Not identified yet

I usually bump into Fleur’s troop very late in the afternoon if at all as their turf is in the barbecue area by Kowloon Byewash reservoir and they only wander to Golden Hill road occasionally when the road isn’t taken by other troops ( which rarely happens ! )


If they come at the wrong time they risk being attacked !

I was introduced to this troop when I first met Fleur’s newborn Petal back in the summer of 2016 and that really was the only time I have seen them hanging around for long on Golden Hill road.


My first encounter with Fleur and her daughter Petal back in 2016 summer….

Fleur had a son subsequently in 2017 and possibly another one in 2018 too but as I don’t bump into them often I don’t follow their progress anymore.


A most recent encounter with Fleur’s troop….

Bachelor troop

This troop is worth mentioning as it comprises of 2 dozens lone bachelors who by the look of them have all been recently ousted from their respective native troop. This must be a new phenomenon as it’s rare for more than a few males to hang around together, let alone forming anything resembling a troop. They maraud and terrorize other lesser troops – like Nora’s or Batman’s but they will hide from the big players.


Ladies stick together and repel the invaders !

Hybrid troop

The hybrid troop is made up of descendants from long tailed macaques released into the area back in the 1960s and their hybrid offspring with rhesus. This troop is usually found by the main bus stop where easy food is available.


There they are !


And food does come easily there !

Bossy’s Troop

By pure chance this is the troop I film most frequently as the thought of following a monkey baby stemmed from this troop when I first met baby Baty there in May 2016. Originally led by a rather young alpha male named Cocky ( who has disappeared in Aug 2018, presumed dead ) and an older female known as Bossy this troop and particularly its babies are often featured in my videos. Numbering around 40 to 50 member strong Bossy’s troop could bully other smaller troops and it would often sneak in to fill any vacant slot along Golden Hill Road when Skull Head’s troop isn’t looking.

Dopey could draw a crowd 🙂

To learn more of this troop and its babies , please follow this link 🙂

13 thoughts on “The different troops”

  1. Furmom says:

    I love your videos. Their informative and often funny. Thank you for all your hard work.

  2. Happy says:

    Hi, Arroz! Tiny is my favorite little manc. The video of his adorable tantrum was actually one of the first monkey video I saw on Youtube! Unfortuatelly I can’t seem to find him on this site. Could you maybe give me a link to his page or tell me in which troop I can find him please?

    1. Kathleen says:

      This is a reply for “Happy”. If you want to see the videos of Tiny, click on the Tab ‘Our Babies’ at the top. Then Click on Skull Heads Troop Then 2017 Babies and you will see the section for Tiny. But actually all of Tiny’s videos are on YouTube. Probably under a playlist for him. Hope that helps.

  3. Sunny Cramer says:

    I am looking for lit Tiny too! Has something happened to him?

  4. Francheska Radosevich says:

    Awesome website ! I love your channel and have followed it since the days of Stumpy!!!! Gosh when I saw Valorie, my eyes watered for a moment as I remembered what a tough time she had. Thank you for all your work! Your approach is so intelligent and insightful!

  5. Pamela A Duncan says:

    Sadly, for every individual monkey in each ot these troupes there are people feeding them, whether to park does when they know food is scarce or weither soft hearted humans take it upon himself to feed them, it is hurting the monkey very badly, I understand the motivation a human has and that is the chance to feed any wildlife and most of it, if you do so runs off quickly or bites you hand off, where a monkey can make you think its showing gratitude and you are doing nothing more than saving ist life.

    That is all far from the truth and while monkeys can be industrious and strong and can do what needs to be done thay all are extremely lazy if given the opportunity. It would seem much better to a monkey to sit around all day, avoiding hunger by what plant life is in grabbing distance so they don’t miss the free food when it comes. They not only pick the lazy way out for themselves but treat baby to watch for feeders and how to beg, and they in turn teach tehir children until soon you have monkeys that are excellent at waiting on the right vehicle to come along and have learned what posters work to get the food they want but have all but forgotten how to properly scavenge and what things to look for as human are not too good at providing the right food. Most hang with the myth that bananas are a main staple for a monkey when in fact, bananas are not monkey food (and not even good for them). In their original habitat bananas of any species are not on the resources list and a truly wild monkey taken into captivity will ignore a banana or a slice of banana unless taught that it should eat what its human says to eat. Since bananas are sweet, and they also have more sugars in them, and are much denser food then they they normally eat it is harder for them to digest and elevates their blood sugar. They then end up appearing to want bananas over any other foods for the sugar and sweetness and get somewhat addicted to them while a banana is not helping them heath wise. It was probably this cycle that cause people to imagine that bananas were monkey food when in fact they should never be given them at all.

    Once monkeys find a place where food can be handed to them and they can cut out a lot of the grind of foraging for food they are quite happy to sit around and enjoy grooming each other rather than feeding themselves.

    On top of that if the feedings are regular and ample enough this gives the monkeys an idea that they can support more mouths to feed and birthrates go up and then when something happens when deliveries are missed or stopped you could actually have a generator or two that has no idea how to competently forage for a days meal and you will see evidence of weight loss when there is plentiful foods in the nearby jungle. And normal behavior of moving around a whole territory, increasing it and gathering from it is not something they know how to do, or if they need to move on to somewhere that can support the extra mouths they will not but they will wait for a feeding, often until the death by starvation of some or more monkeys.

    As for TNR on monkeys it just does not work in population control the way it does with dogs or cats, and if you neuter a cat or dog you are not disrupting a large family group or the greater troupe. It can be done, whether it should or not is another thing, but only after the groups/troupes are studies and high ranking monkeys and ones in the troupe with newer generic features and well as those with birth defects. Once they have all that information then they can choose, if they do not plan to neuter all and eradicate the population, they should select the ones that they should sterilize and thos to leave intact and never do it as they seem to – hit or miss by grabbing whatever monkeys turn it was to eat from a feeding in the cage (which of course would be related families). You then end up decimating one or perhaps two troops as they will die out while actually aiding the other troupe as they will have less competition. The persons making the selections should be choosing from the larger groups that can tolerate and/or need a lower birth rate, especially as there is evidence of infanticide in that troupe. So it has to be done under good observation and careful choice of who gets picked for the procedure and who does not. It is also wiser to neuter the makes and leave the females intact – just in case your math was wrong.

    All that aside however, the best way to allow this to be handled is to not get involved in helping them but let nature and the monkeys instincts alone handles the manner. They will control their own population as long as your not supplementing their diets and all and all making things easier for them. I am surprises at this point that some monkey lovers have not gone up there and built shack into which all the monkeys could go and get out of bad weather, so they did not get wet or cold and put babies at risk, That might work if the monkeys accept it as neutral space, which they will do if they need a place as much as another, and the soon you will have generations of monkeys not away how to endure a storm in the forest.

    I know it makes people feel good to feed the “poor starving monkeys” and to tell friends that gave up a day off work to go care for the monkeys but the truth of the matter iis they should be telling people that they are helping drive these monkeys into a facility for dwell do to the fact that they become endangered, or that the food you gave them last year cause the need for infanticide through the whole troupe with only the baby or two of a high ranking females allowed to survive.

    It sounds very harsh, but the animal kingdom and survival in it is very harsh and to be able to remain free and wild they need to be left to do what they instinctively know needs to be done. If you want to do something where you can be strongly sympathetic and empathetic and love and feed and nurture – try any orphanage near you full of human babies that need what you giving to monkeys who do not even know what your doing but takes advantage to the own demise. Monkeys may look a bit like a human baby and you want to snatch them up and cuddle them – but it is far from what they need – while there are many cute human orphans to do need that care.

    1. Kathleen says:

      I think you may be mistaking these monkeys with the Long Tail Macaques in Cambodia. There is not one monkey in Monkey Hill that is obese or sick from being over fed. They have a designated feeder program which comes by once or twice a week with left overs that would normally go to the landfill. It feeds these very hungry monkeys, the feral dogs, and the wild boars. Not a scrap is wasted. It helps them get through the lean times when there are very little resources for them. Sadly this program is being phased out vthe volunteers that are currently doing it are elderly and it’s difficult for them to come here in the winter too. Hong Kong is not protecting these very special monkeys. Skull Heads Troop is the largest recorded Troop in the world.
      You really should do a bit of research before criticizing what this very generous individual does for these monkeys. He is too polite to say anything but this is just inappropriate. And you really have no idea what other charities he helps or what he does for a living Monday through Friday. Your comment sounded harsh because it is harsh. But I suppose it’s because you are unaware. Read the info here on his website. Watch a few videos and get educated on the subject. Thank you and have a lovely day now.

      1. Debra Beckman says:

        Well said Kathleen.

        1. Kathleen Kossor says:

          Thank you @Debra Beckman.

      2. Michelle says:

        VERY WELL SAID Kathleen…
        👍👏👏👏‼

  6. Kitty basham says:

    Where are the 2019 babies. It is almost June.

    1. Kathleen says:

      @Kitty basham. Arroz is a bit behind but all the new babies that he has featured on his You Tube channel are listed here. Stay tuned. I’m sure they will be along soon.

  7. James Simms says:

    Pamela, so far as selecting individual monks for sterilization; remember we’re dealing w/Chinese Communists who don’t particularly care what happens to individuals or individual troops. They could care less & truth be known, id there were NO monks, it would be for the better.

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