Thursday, October 27, 2011

"A Friend May Well Be Reckoned..."

Anne Young at Work at Monkey Forest Park
My first question to Anne Young after I'd read this story and her biographic sketch was, "When ever do you sleep?" As a regional banking Executive in Asia, and an avid and extremely talented (and ubiquitous)  semi-professional photographer, there just aren't enough hours in a day.  "VERY late nights!" was her three-word answer. 

This brief tale, "A Friend May Well be Reckoned the Masterpiece of Nature," warmly illustrates, both in prose and photography, Anne's deep love and respect for wildlife, as well as her relentless efforts to support the preservation of wild animals worldwide.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I have.  Anne currently resides in Singapore and travels extensively in Asia.

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  Michelle Alton

"A Friend May Well be Reckoned the Masterpiece of Nature"*
* Ralph Waldo Emerson
Story and photographs by Anne Young

Monkey Forest park in Ubud, Bali Indonesia is a nature reserve and temple complex. It houses approximately 350 crab eating macaques.

The forest comprises approximately a tenth of a square kilometer (approximately 27 acres) and contains at least 115 different species of trees. The Monkey Forest contains the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple as well as a "Holy Spring" bathing temple and another temple used for cremation ceremonies.

Temple at Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest is owned by the village of Padangtegal. The local village members serve on the Monkey Forest's governing council. The park opens at 8.30 and closes around 5pm however it's not enclosed so entry is relatively unrestricted for photographers that love the early morning light. Just pay at one of the booths on the way out as the entry fees go towards the up-keep of the park.

I love this park.  The temples create a serenity seldom found in day to day life. As for the Macaques – if you don’t bring any food  (they can smell it a mile off)  and sit quietly by, they soon accept you as a part of their environment.

I have made over 6 trips to Ubud. The resorts are divine, the people beautiful, and being over an hour up in the hills it is well away from the poorly behaved Western tourists that frequent the beach bars of Kuta.

Back to the Macaques: I wake at sunrise and wander through the park, waiting for the macaques to come down from their evening nests in the trees further up in the hills. There are around four distinct groups led by a dominant male.

Dominant Male Relaxing

On the outside are the bachelor boys.  At first I ignored them, like most photographers do, as less interesting to photograph as the mothers and their captivating babies.

Babies at Play

Mother Macaque with Twins

However these guys have provided the most delightful experiences.

The bachelor boys are quite self-assured - they know they are strong and can protect themselves if needed – certainly from a lady with a camera. They do keep a look out for the dominant male however!

One morning there were no macaques in their favorite spot in the sun; instead two stray dogs from the village were asleep. I wandered off believing that as long as the dogs slept there the macaques would stay well away!  Imagine my surprise when I checked backed – a bachelor boy was sitting astride a sleeping dog, grooming!

Monkey with a Stray Dog, Enjoying the Midday Sun

On my shoulders is a great lookout post and often comes with free grooming as payment. I have only been attacked once in all the hours I have spent with the macaques, and that was by a mother that had just given birth.  I didn’t see her under some bushes in time.

Admiring the View

 Like all juvenile males, they have two things on their mind:  trouble and love!

Trouble comes in many forms.  In Bali two-wheel transport is the most popular way to travel and they just love to climb on a parked bike and play. Often times they are destructive and tear the seat, break mirrors and do other damage so a stone is often thrown from an owner on the look out.

Chewing Motorbik Seat

This guy was fascinated with his own image in the bike mirror.

That's a Beautiful Face in the Mirror

It was on one of my wanderings in Monkey forest park that I came across an amazing scene:  A male macaque had taken a stray kitten and was holding it like a baby. I spoke to a researcher who had been studying the macaques for three months, and she told me her group had distracted him and rescued the kitten.  However, the next day macaque and the kitten were back together. There are many stray cats and dogs in Bali and they struggle with rabies outbreaks, so this kitten was most probably dumped around the temple.

I photographed this pair for about an hour. At one stage the monkey decided to move and scooped the kitten up like a baby. How gentle is that hand under its little bottom?

A Quiet Snuggle

A Gentle Lift

Watching Together

A Picnic in the Forest
 In the end he started to get anxious so I left them to their time together.

- 30 -

  All photographs by Anne Young

Anne's Biographical Sketch

Anne has worked for 30 years in the Banking industry in New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Currently living and working in Singapore and spends her weekends and holidays as a photographer. The weekdays are still dedicated to banking as a senior executive in a regional bank.

Anne loves animal photography; however babies and children are a very close second. She does portraits from which she donates100% of the fee to "Caring for Cambodia" a NGO (non-government organization) that does amazing work building schools across Cambodia.

Further photos can be seen at Anne's website.


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Joe DiGilio said...

Interesting and delightful post Ann; superior camera work too. The shots you took of the monkey and the kitten are extraordinary. I would never expect that kind of reaction. Just like people, some animals are more loving,gentle and tollerant than others. I like the shot of the monkey on your sholders too. I can hear it saying, "Who does your hair darling?" Hope to hear more from you on Michelle's blog in the future.

Patricia Casey said...

Hello Anne....just delightful! You truly have had an amazing life. Thank you for your gift of sharing these beautiful places and brothers & sisters of fur with us through your writing & photography. I took a quick tour of your photos on the web page...lovely! All my best wishes to you and continued joy and happiness in your pursuits....Patricia

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Loved reading this . . in fact I have come back twice to do so. The photos are just amazing and clearly you have a gift for photography. I wouldn't want to have gotten in the way of the wide open mouth and those large teeth of the monkey.

The kitten photo is just so tender. What an amazing tribute you have paid the animal kingdom. Well done.