Eco-tourism is a valuable way for communities which are close to magnificent wildlife to monetize (and protect) that wildlife. Except, every one and a while, things go wrong. An example of this is the community of Xianfeng, a village in central Sichuan Province, which suffered a bit of a mishap as it attempted to become a world-class environmental destination. Here is what happened: a few years ago, villagers decided that they could become a beloved tourism destination if the macaques which lived in the nearby mountain forests were adorably living in town. So they lured a group of monkeys back to Xianfeng with food and treats. Investors paid to cosset the monkeys, and a few tourists started to show up.
Things seemed bright until the investor died and his plans and schemes for popularizing the town went with him. However the monkeys did NOT vanish (or head back into the jungle). They acquired a taste for town life and no amount of luring (or humane trapping) has been able to convince them to leave. The year of the fire monkey has extra significance in Xianfeng, a town where 600 macaques are continuously squabbling and stealing things and disrupting every activity. The macaques are protected by Chinese law, so there isn’t much the villagers can do to take their town back without incurring the formidable wrath of the state.
It is an unhappy tale about 2 sorts of primates and how greedy and short-sighted they can be, but the town really does look cantankerous and fun!