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Monkey Business: Bali’s Clever Macaques Are Stealing Tourists’ Phones for Ransom!

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Bali is a beautiful island paradise known for its stunning beaches, temples, and lush rainforests. But there’s one thing that many tourists are not prepared for: the monkeys.

Bali’s long-tailed macaques are infamous for their mischievous behavior, which includes stealing tourists’ belongings. But what many people need to realize is that these monkeys are also very clever. In fact, studies have found that they are able to assess the value of stolen items and demand ransom accordingly. And we’ve got video evidence to prove it.

The Rise of the Monkey Ransom Economy

Macaque monkeys with cubs at Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia.

recent study has shed light on the intricate dynamics of this peculiar monkey ransom economy, revealing these resourceful primates’ strategic prowess and adaptability. Their ability to recognize the value of human possessions and leverage them for desirable treats highlights their remarkable cognitive capabilities and knack for calculated mischief.

The study, which was published in the journal Animal Behaviour, was conducted by researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Canada and Udayana University in Indonesia. The researchers observed the monkeys at the Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s most popular tourist destinations.

Find Out More About Other Wildlife in Indonesia.

Video of monkey haggling with a tourist after snatching her phone

In a funny video that lots of people are watching, a smart monkey outside a special temple near the sea is seen talking to a lady whose phone he took just a little while ago. They watch as the monkey looks through the lady’s bag, holding tight to her phone. Then, the lady gets out an apple, and the monkey gives her back the phone before running away happily with his tasty prize. This funny moment shows how clever and playful these monkeys are when they deal with people, making us all smile at the interesting friendship between humans and the lively monkeys in Bali.

The Hilarious Monkey-Made Bargains and Negotiations

Witnessing these thieving monkeys engage in playful yet determined negotiations with bewildered tourists has become a comical yet endearing spectacle. Their shrewd bartering tactics, coupled with their cheeky demeanor, have turned the act of retrieval into an entertaining exchange, leaving visitors both exasperated and charmed by their antics.

It is thought that the monkeys learn to barter by observing the interactions between humans. They see that humans trade items with each other, and they learn to do the same.

The monkeys also learn from each other. When one monkey sees another monkey successfully bartering, it will try to do the same.

Did you know that Japanese Macaques engage in same-sex interactions?

Conservation Concerns and Human-Monkey Coexistence

YouTube video

While the playful antics of these Bali monkeys have entertained many, there are growing concerns about the implications of this behavior on both tourism and the monkeys’ natural habitat. Conservationists and local authorities are grappling with the challenge of maintaining a balance between preserving the natural environment and ensuring the safety and well-being of both tourists and mischievous primate residents.

Balancing Tourism and Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Efforts are underway to implement responsible tourism practices that educate visitors on respectful interaction with the local wildlife, promoting the importance of coexistence and conservation. By raising awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of the delicate ecosystem, stakeholders aim to protect the monkeys’ natural habitat while preserving Bali’s reputation as a top tourist destination.

Visit long-tailed macaques in Bali’s iconic Monkey Forest.

Here are a few tips for keeping your phone safe from Bali’s monkey thieves:

Intelligent Macaque monkey drinking out of a plastic bottle
Intelligent Macaque monkey drinking out of a plastic bottle

If you are planning a trip to Bali, it is important to be aware of the monkeys and take steps to protect your belongings. Here are a few tips for keeping your phone safe from Bali’s monkey thieves:

  • Keep your phone in a zipped pocket or bag close to your body.
  • Do not leave your phone unattended.
  • Do not touch or feed the monkeys.
  • If approached by a monkey, stay calm.
  • If a monkey is not willing to return your phone, report the incident to temple staff.


Bali’s macaques are clever and resourceful creatures. They have learned to barter with humans and demand ransom for stolen items.

If you are planning a trip to Bali, it is important to be aware of the monkeys and take steps to protect your belongings.

Also, watch this! Monkey Uses Computer at Railway Office

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