Monkey food mafia? Sounds like something straight out of Jungle Book right? Wrong. This is actually something that is happening in Bali. Tourists are getting their valuables stolen by monkeys and are only getting them back in exchange for food. Genius right?
Apparently, it is even more uncommon than it sounds. The macaques grab valuable items and then wait for tourists and staff to offer them food before dropping their ill-gotten gains and dashing off with the prize. Running a sort of food mafia racket.
“It is a unique behaviour. The Uluwatu Temple is the only place in Bali where it is found, which suggests it is learned rather than being an innate ability,” said Fany Brotcorne, a primatologist at the University of Liege in Belgium.
Researchers spent months observing four different groups of the monkeys that live near the temple. The two groups that spent the most time around tourists had the highest rates of robbery and bartering, supporting the idea that they were learning the behaviour by watching each other, researchers said.
They also found that groups with more young men, who are more prone to risky behaviour (obviously) had higher rates of devious activity. Looks like monkeys aren’t so different to us after all.