Search teams have revealed how they are trying to ‘coax’ an escaped monkey on the loose in the Highlands following a new sighting.
A male Japanese macaque escaped from the Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore, on Sunday morning.
It was later spotted nearly two miles away in the village of Kincraig, where one surprised resident saw the primate eating from a bird feeder in his garden.
Search teams have been trying to capture and return the monkey for more than 48 hours, with no success.
Now, teams have drafted in the support of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue and their thermal imaging drone to help return the missing Highlands monkey.
Local mountaineers lend a helping hand as search for missing monkey rages on
Jonny Porteous, member of Cairngorm MRT, told The Press and Journal: “We’ve been called in to use our drone to search for the missing monkey.
“It’s been quite a news story but we thought we would come and help as part of the community and use it as a training opportunity as well to work through our procedures and using our drone for searching.
“It gives us a chance to train and it’s a great day for doing it.
“It’s a DGIM30T so it’s a thermal imaging drone and it can pick up heat sources very easily.
“I’ve never had to search for a monkey before and hopefully we never have to do it again!”
Willie Anderson, depute leader of Cairngorm MRT, has a personal interest in the search.
His brother Jim Anderson, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan, is a world expert on the species.
Willie said the team were delighted to be able to lend a helping hand in the name of “community spirit.”
He said: “It’s such a good story and it has attracted a lot of interest. I have a personal interest in it because my brother Jim Anderson is a world expert in macaque behaviour.
“He’s a professor at Kyoto University and his work is with Japanese snow monkeys.
“He picked up the story over in Japan and he video-called me to ask what was happening. He said the monkey will most likely be on the ground but he did say they are not a danger unless they are cornered.
“We are here assisting but it’s not a rescue. It’s a bit of community spirit and it gives us a good bit of training with the drone.”
Park ranger blows the whistle to attract missing monkey
Hopes were high at the Kincraig-based park this morning following reports of a sighting near the entrance in a dense area of woodland.
Teams combed the search area from the sky, picking up a heat signature just a few hundred metres away.
However, further investigations found the object was nothing more than a tyre.
This afternoon, rangers adopted a different tactic, by way of luring the monkey home during feeding time.
Ranger Stuart Owen blew the whistle, hoping to capture the attention of the missing snow monkey.
Speaking at the park today, he said the conservation charity was “doing everything it can to get the monkey back with its family”.
He said: “On Sunday morning before we came in to count the macaques, reports were coming through of one of our macaques traipsing through people’s gardens in Kincraig.
“There were reports that the monkey was coming quite close to the park, so we waited until there was an ideal opportunity to blow their whistle, which is associated with their food.”
He added: “We are doing absolutely everything we can, from the moment we come in until the moment we leave. There are certain individuals on call on the monkey hotline and we are keeping abreast of the situation as much as we can.
“RZSS is doing everything it can to get the monkey back with its family.”
Park officials believe the monkey’s great escape may have been prompted by an altercation in the enclosure, pushing him to take an “extraordinary leap”.
However, he says up until today, the remaining monkeys have been none the wiser.
He added: “They’re behaving normally as a group however, I personally feel that they knew something was up this morning. Their routine was a little bit off today.”
Animal keepers have been out in force throughout the day responding to potential sightings in the area.
Keith Gilchrist, living collections operations manager at Highland Wildlife Park said: “There has been a sighting of the macaque this morning, which we are currently responding to.
“Throughout the day our expert team of animal keepers will be patrolling the local area using a variety of techniques to try and coax him in, as well as using our thermal image drone contractor to aid with the search.
“Cairngorms Mountain Rescue has also kindly offered to support with their thermal imaging drone.”
How you can help find the missing Highlands monkey
Mr Gilchrist added that while the macaque “is not presumed dangerous”, it should not be approached.
He said: “As with yesterday, we’re asking locals to please bring any obvious potential food sources like bird feeders or food waste inside, as we’re hopeful that the monkey will return to the park if he can’t find food elsewhere.”
Mr Gilchrist added: “Although the macaque is not presumed dangerous to humans or pets, our advice is to not approach him but to contact our hotline on 07933928377 with any sightings.”