The Animals of Bali

My holiday to Bali was filled with an abundance of adventure and creatures – the perfect getaway. Candi Dasa is a beautiful, serene village, with great snorkelling and picturesque traditional countryside. I trekked through rice paddies, crossed home-made bamboo bridges over raging rivers, discovered an array of weird and wonderful bugs, frogs and reptiles to photograph, and spent time with Mr D, the coolest Bali macaque monkey you could ever meet. 

The state of the animals in Bali is exactly what I expected, having heard the horror stories from past Bali visitors. Many of the dogs on the street are skinny and are ridden with mange, yet still wear collars so must have homes somewhere. The cats are friendly but have the tips of their tails docked, and are small in size and looking for a feed. The Balinese are gentle people, but some (not all!) seem nonchalant when it comes to pet ownership.  I don’t think the neglect occurs out of deliberate intent but more so from not understanding what an animal requires as far as care goes – they tend to think an animal can be responsible for itself and that it doesn’t need a secure yard, regular meals, or a comfortable bed.

On the other hand, something I found quite shocking and deliberate was number of roosters held in small upside down basket cages, to be later used for cockfighting. The sport is illegal in Bali but the authorities don’t enforce the laws in relation to it – so basically it’s a cockfighting free-for-all. I visited one village of a few hundred people and there were over 60 cock fighting roosters sitting in their cages scattered throughout the main street. One local became suspicious of my interest in them and the fact that I was taking so many photographs, so I had to pretend I was excited about their colouring – some were dyed fluoro pink and bright yellow. Several had cuts healing on their feet, and some had bands around their legs to which the razor blades are attached…

On a positive note, there are a number of worthy animal charity organisations in Bali, particularly Bali Street Dogs and the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). Both groups work together to run sterilisation clinics, re-home stray puppies and provide vet care and daily food for older dogs living on the streets. So it’s good to know that people are working to effect change, and give the animals of Bali a better life.

Now, I mentioned Mr D the Bali macaque monkey earlier! Orphaned at a month old, Mr D lives at the Bayshore Villas with surrogate-Dad Brad (owner of the Bayshore).  He is now 11 months old and is the smartest, cutest, most playful and naughtiest (in a good way) animal I have ever met! He loves nothing more than jumping onto people’s heads (he thinks the shock value is awesome!), having a swing in his tree, and eating his fruit – watermelon, papaya, and bananas are favourites. 

To be so close to a monkey was an amazing experience and unlike the monkey forest, I wasn’t concerned about being bitten – as a side note, I wasn’t bitten in the monkey forest either, but one cheeky macaque did pitch a seed pod at me, hitting me on the elbow! Mr D was eager to learn and was highly intelligent. When I switched a rock from one hand to the other, hiding it from him,  he would tell me where it was.  The first time he picked the wrong hand, but after that I couldn’t trick him! He communicated with me via a wide range of facial expressions and chatted away in happy monkey squeaks. He was infatuated with my Canon point and shoot camera too, and several times he put it on the grass so he could jump on it with all four feet! Thank goodness it’s the shock proof model! At one point I set it to video mode and pressed ‘record’ – Mr D then dragged it around with him and made a blurry video! 

He is an adorable, spoilt little guy and I look forward to seeing him on my next visit to Bali. 

Enjoy the pics.

Mr D eats breakfast

A surprise for puppy!

The charming Mr D

3 week old macaque 

Finger Food



Turtle (From Safari Park)

 Gecko on the roof

Roosters in their cages


5 Comments to “The Animals of Bali”

  1. Squib says:

    Looks like you had an interesting time. Wonderful pictures (as always!)

  2. Belinda says:

    Hi Alex. Great blog on the animals of Bali (my second home). Just a note to let you know that when you mention the collars on the street dogs it is not because they have a home, it is because they have been vaccinated for rabies as part of the Bali Street Dog Foundation.

  3. Nice shot of the Turtle (From Safari Park)….

    Bali is a land that seems to have a magnet at its very heart. It is a feeling that is difficult to understand unless experienced but once visited you are surely compelled to come back and you may even want to stay forever, such is its pull. Maybe its Bali’s beauty, maybe the friendly people, or maybe even the influence from spirits that certainly abide in this place…

  4. Helen says:

    I’ve just visited Bali and fallen for the place as well. I visited the Bali Bird and Reptile Park and the Elephant Safari Park near Ubud, all wonderful. However I feel compelled to tell people of the animals in poor circumstances at Turtle Island near Benoa Harbour. Two pythons with sticky taped mouths was a shock. Imagine the scale injury as the tape is removed. One other was in a wire cage rubbing its face on the wire and scraping the large, raw, sticky-tape-removal-injury.
    Tourists are photographed with the pythons around their necks and obviously the tape is to stop biting.
    All the animals at this tourist site (including squirrels, luwara, turtles) were in poor living conditions and I feel compelled to discourage visitation to this place – all one can do since there is no law to protect animals from exploitation and cruelty.

  5. Houndstooth Studio says:

    Hi Helen, Thank you so much for your poignant and relevant comment. The living conditions of the animals on Turtle Island sound sufferable and I really appreciate you bringing it to my attention – and hopefully to everyone else’s who reads this post. I’m heading to Bali again next January and hearing things like this makes me want to Turtle Island to take a different type of photograph – One which exposes these cruel practices. Sadly not only are they practices perpetrated by the animal owners but also perpetrated by the tourists who would rather a cheap thrill than give a care for what they are actually participating in and the consequences of it. I also know of a European Zoo where you can ride a lion for $5 bucks. If people got over wanting to do things like that so badly and actually stopped to think about the effect it has on the animal they are exploiting, then things could change. But as long as it’s a revenue spinner, it will continue. It disgusts me. Really, thanks again for stopping by and exposing this place. Kind regards, Alex

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