National Geographic : 2017 Mar
a fight to Survive 103 are economic and cultural factors to consider.” On the other hand, as fruit eaters and seed scatterers, the monkeys are “gardeners of the for- est,” Hilser said. “ When we can make that kind of connection to the bigger picture of ecosystem function, people start to see a different kind of value—they start to get it.” Teaching kids about the macaques attracts parents’ support for their protection, Hilser said. Purser adds that kids are “fantastic informants” on people who keep them as pets. In the city of Manado I met some of Selamatkan Yaki’s “Yaki Ambassadors,” a label of pride for annually cho- sen Indonesian students (and a few local notables) who speak on behalf of the macaques at schools, churches, and public events. “ What really matters is that the local commu- nities are in,” Hilser said. “That’s the only way this conservation thing can work.” At Tangkoko, Engelhardt has hired a former hunter, Ferdi Dalentang, to scare off the young male monkeys that tear up people’s gardens in the vicinity of the reserve. “I make mad faces, yell, and chase them,” he said. “Sometimes I use a slingshot on a nearby tree to scare them. They have to take me seriously, or else they’ll come right back.” A comeback is just what crested black ma- caques need. Hilser says ecotourism is surely part of the solution. “ These monkeys are iconic. They’ve got great features—that punk hair and heart-shaped bum and those expressions. Yaki is a useful flagship, a mascot for Sulawesi.” As I reluctantly left Tangkoko for the last time, bumping along the trail on a motorbike, Raoul, the alpha male who had smacked my leg, wan- dered out from among the trees. He was alone, and after I puttered by, I glanced back to see him swagger into the middle of the path to watch me go. My guess: He was relieved that this invasive primate, one of many moving through yaki ter- ritory these days, was finally leaving—without taking anything away. j Advocates believe that teaching children to see the value of a forest full of monkeys, like this one sheltered by leaves, will bring lasting benefits and help reverse yaki’s decline. “Ultimately,” says longtime macaque researcher Antje Engelhardt, “we should be protecting their habitat and leaving them alone.” Jennifer S. Holland is a former National Geographic staff writer. Her latest book is Unlikely Friendships: Dogs. Zoologist Stefano Unterthiner was a winner in the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, held by the Natural History Museum, in London.