Human and Nature: Story of a Monkey King

Kensong, a loner Yunnan golden monkey, is living a happy life under the meticulous care of local residents at a forest reserve in Lijiang County, in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

After being deprived of the throne of his monkey kingdom, Kensong now cherishes his time enjoying the love of surrounding people.

Usually, monkey kings have to live a lonely life far from their own kind and suffer from starvation and illness until death, according to a zoologist with an animal research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.

The Yunnan golden monkey is under first-class state protection, the expert said. Statistics show that there are about 600 to 800 Yunnan golden monkeys living in forest areas in a number of counties in the province.

Kensong's name was given to him by his protector and best friend -- Li Jinxian, a 38-year old tractor driver at the Qulong Inn in the reserve.

"Kensong means Orient Patron Saint in ethnic language," Li said, sitting on the huge rock in the center of the inn park, although lonely, king-like Kensong looks around with an air of authority.

Kensong first appeared when the inn was set up in 1997, Li recalled, he often hid in trees near the inn, but scuttled if somebody approached.

"He is interested in things which make rumbling sound, such as my tractor," Li said.

Whenever Li's tractor travels along the forest roads, Kensong is chasing the amazing rumble-maker from tree to tree.

Later, a diesel generator was installed in a log cabin at the inn. Kensong instantly fell in love with the new rumble-maker. He watched the machine every night.

To prevent the monkey from being injured by the machine, Li nailed up the windows and a door to the cabin with battens. But Kensong destroyed the battens and insisted on staying with the machine.

In the end, Li had to use thick sticks to block the cabin off from Kensong's reach. Being out of reach of the diesel generator, Kensong had to stay overnight under the tractor.

"Kensong returns to live in forest for a couple of days several times a month," Li said, Kensong does not have any intention to recapture his kingship.

Every group of Yunnan golden monkey has a king. Other monkeys are mates and offspring of the king. When a young male monkey in the group grows up to have enough ability to challenge the kingship, a life-and-death fight takes place between the old king and the young challenger.

The winner of the fight will be the new king of the monkey group and the loser will be dislodged from the group to lead a vagrant life.

Having lost the fight, Kensong is lucky to have concern and love from human friends. Li has become the most trusted friend of Kensong. Kensong always finds comfort on Li's back and will come to lean against Li to search for peanuts in his pockets or to just have a short rest.

Wu, another friend of Kensong, is a store keeper at the inn. Every morning, when Wu opens the door, Kensong is always the first customer in the store. Kensong does not leave until he obtains a handful of peanuts.

When strangers come near Kensong, he often threatens them. If the visitors are girls in colorful dresses however, Kensong is friendly and is quiet and in a daze for a long time.

"Kensong has become more and more snobbish," Li joked. He now seldom stays overnight under Li's tractor, and instead, chooses jeeps or luxury cars.

"Kensong is also piggish," Li added with smile. He constantly sneaks into the kitchen for cookies.

This has caused considerable worries for Li and other people. "It's said that Yunnan golden monkey will die if having too much salt."

Although Kensong has some shortcomings and bad manners, people at the reserve are taking prudential care of him.

Li Shiliang, director of the county's forestry bureau, visited Kensong recently and decided to distribute 300 yuan per month to cover Kensong's living cost.

"Kensong should go back to the forest from time to time to help him maintain his wild habits," the officials told the workers.

People's Daily Online ---