It is hard to believe that there is near pristine rainforest just 12 kilometers from the heart of Singapore – one of the most important cities in the world. And it is even harder to believe that in this small forest patch may live the legendary Bukit Timah Monkey Man.

The last virgin rainforest

Singapore may seem to be a small island, but its inner area was a true wilderness until recent times. Island was first crossed on horseback in 1840 and this expedition took 4 days. Nearly 200 people were killed by tigers in the forest of the island in 1860.

In the central part of the island is located the tallest summit of Singapore – the 163.8 m tall Bukit Timah. This summit was first reached by white people in 1827. In Malay this name may be translated as "tin hill", but most likely this is transformed "Bukit Temak" – "hill of the temak trees".

Nature reserve around this hill was established early – in 1883 when the forest was almost intact. Thus it has been well preserved up to this day and, reportedly, is the only pristine rainforest in the major city except for Rio da Janeiro, Brasil. Up to this day, it happens that people get lost in this dense forest.

Nevertheless one should not forget that this forest is surrounded by the lively city from all sides and numerous tourists are coming every day to Bukit Timah. Could there be a large, unknown animal which survives and hides in this small patch of the rainforest?

Mystery of the forest

First reports about mysterious beings in the central part of Singapore are more than 200 years old – already in 1805 one local Malayan elder told that he has seen here an upright-walking being with a face of monkey.

Many local people were raised with stories that children should be careful and should not approach the forest as there is the monkey man lurking around. This may be an attempt to scare the children away from the dangerous thickets but: who knows? Maybe there is some grain of truth?

Quite many weird stories and forest man were told also by Japanese soldiers who were here during World War II.

There have been few encounters with this being after the war, last time in 2007. See an image of purported encounter with monkey man here.

One report tells about large, human-like animal hit by taxi car in the night, another witness saw weird being scavenging in the waste bins in early morning.

Crab-eating macaques in Bukit Timah, Singapore
Crab-eating macaques in Bukit Timah / William Cho, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Monkey or legend?

According to stories this creature is similar to primates, but walking on two feet, like humans. Monkey man appears only in the night.

Monkey man is 1 – 2 m tall, with a fur in greyish color.

The most similar local animal is Crab-eating Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) – except that this monkey is much smaller, up to 0.55 m tall.

Some evil tongues though tell that fear (or more politely – sudden surprise) has "big eyes" and this small animal in some cases may seem much larger than it is in reality. This contradicts though with the sightings of local Malayans – these people known their country and its animals better than anyone else.

Others place this animal in the realm of legends – and there are some legends about it indeed. Thus, according to these legends monkey man is immortal, a kind of forest spirit.

Some cryptozoologists (researchers of undiscovered, legendary animals) see that monkey man is similar to some other legendary hominids, such as Orang Pendek – the elusive forest man in Sumatra.

Bukit Timah Monkey Man on the map
Travelers' Map is loading...
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Location, GPS coordinates: 1.3553 N 103.7774 E
Categories: Places with cryptozoological phenomena
Values: Unexplained, Biology
Rating: 2 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Asia, Singapore, rainforest around Bukit Timah hill in the central part of island
Name in Mandarin: 武吉知马猴人
Alternate names: BTM, BTMM (abbreviation)
Area: 164 ha
Cryptid: reportedly – unknown hominid, most likely not existing

Landmarks of Singapore

Walkway in Cloud Forest Dome, Singapore
Walkway in Cloud Forest Dome / Khairul Nizam, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Albeit it is small, Singapore now is one of world’s most developed nations and it shows in its landmarks: here are found several marvels of modern architecture and engineering. Quite a few locations in Singapore look like a glimpse into far future of technologically advanced civilization.

Places with cryptozoological phenomena

Purported image of mokele-mbembe in Lake Tele
Purported image of mokele-mbembe in Lake Tele. Is it the monster or elephant? / Colorized screenshot from the footage of Japanese expedition led by Tatsuo Watanabe, 1987.
Cryptozoology is very exciting pseudoscience – a discipline which stands between true science and folklore.

It deals with legendary animals which seem to exist but their existence has not been proved.

Recommended books

Lonely Planet Singapore

Lonely Planet Singapore is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Shop til you drop along Orchard Road, explore futuristic gardens and a world-class zoo, and sample some of the best hawker food in Asia; all with your trusted travel companion.

Yetis, Sasquatch & Hairy Giants

Author and adventurer David Hatcher Childress takes the reader on a fantastic journey across the Himalayas to Europe and North America in his quest for Yeti, Sasquatch and Hairy Giants. Childress begins with his own decades-long quest for the Yeti in Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and other areas of the Himalayas, and then proceeds to his research into Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Skunk Apes in North America.

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