Spider Monkey Attack on Isla de Monos, Ometepe

Greetings,

I’m writing this from Leon, Nicaragua and have a grim reminder for everyone traveling not to overestimate their skills or underestimate natures unpredictability. Met a gentleman from the UK last night who supplied these photos of the aftermath of a spider monkey attack on the Isla de Monos off Ometepe, Nicaragua. Hopefully these photos do not offend but make you think and remember that adventure travel is not a trip to Disneyland.

The ladies who shall remain nameless are middle age and of average fitness. Their experience kayaking is very limited to non existent. Kayaking is a popular activity in the area and one of the major draws is visiting the Isla de Monos to see the spider monkeys. Guides are available for roughly $10US depending on the length of your trip and if nothing else can act as a form of short term travel insurance.

Many people take guides and countless others don’t. Considering it was a windy day and these ladies had very little skill in kayaking, a guide would have been recommended. What happened was the ladies got too close to the side of the island and couldn’t paddle out. Eventually one of the ladies got hit up against the shore which must have spooked the spider monkeys and they began attacking her viciously. Ultimately the women had to get out of their kayaks and swim to safety as they did not possess the skills or strength to get away from shore.

If a guide was with them this may not have occurred and if it something of this nature did, they would have at least had someone to help fend off the attacking spider monkeys. That’s the reactive scenario though, clearly these women underestimated the temperament of these wild animals and overestimated their kayaking skills. In a proactive scenario which may have been the case had they hired an experienced guide would have been never getting that close to begin with. The guide knows what the animals are capable of and most likely would have ensured the women stay a safe distance to prevent such an occurrence from happening. Had the ladies gotten to close he could have helped tow them away.

Decided to share this post because the world should know that these things happen. Besides the traumatizing experience, the health care in this country is not the same as what you’d expect back home. It’s impossible to determine events that never happened but would this have been different had they hired a local expert to come with them for $10?

The ladies are alright but the one who received the worst of it needs to have a tendon operation when she arrives home. The physical injuries sustained were many bites, scratches and a severed tendon, it must have been a terrifying experience.

As always please remember an ounce of pro-activeness is worth a pound of re-activeness…

Stay safe,

Photo credits: Brian Thackeray

7 Comments

  1. James Shannon

    December 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Yikes! I’ll be in no hurry to go back to Lopburi, Thailand (aka Monkey City) at this rate … bloodthirsty creatures! :P

    In all seriousness though, thanks for this post … having worked in Jasper National Park for almost three years now, I see folks get WAY WAY too close to WILD animals all the time, and I wonder what will happen one of these days at a bear jam, an elk rut … or in this case, an island filled with monkeys!

    • Rob

      December 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Many people treat wild animals like cute pets but they aren’t. Most are lucky and nothing happens so they tell others it is no problem.

      In this case just seems like a worst case scenario. Luckily they are both “ok” but has most likely scarred them mentally as much as physically.

      Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Thailand.

  2. James Cook

    December 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    It is amazing how when abroad people seem to just forget their limits. Glad they got out ok (sort of)

    • Rob

      December 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      Yeah the getting out “ok” is all relative. Could be worse and I’d be tested for rabies. That said, a reminder for all of us travelers.

  3. Lesley

    March 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I was attacked by these same spider monkeys in January of 2011 and I HAD a local guide. I think it is time that these monkeys were destroyed. Talked to a friend who visited the islands last week and the spider monkeys were still there. There are tours that actually advertise that you get to feed the monkeys (which I was not doing, although I admit that I was preoccupied with taking photos of the monkeys and did let my kayak drift too close). As soon as you feed wild animals they lose their fear of humans and can get aggressive.

    • Rob

      March 22, 2012 at 5:12 am

      Wow, that sounds horrible but thank you for sharing and letting others know it was not an isolated incident.

  4. R. Austin

    November 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Why destroy the monkeys? Stop the tours. Let the monkeys live in peace.

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