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 !
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.
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.
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
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 🙂
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.
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
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.
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….
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 🙁
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….
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 !
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 !
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 thislink 🙂