Plan unveiled to end years of monkey mayhem in city in Thailand

3 April 2024, 11:14

Monkeys eat fruit during a festival in Thailand
Thailand Monkeys. Picture: PA

The macaques that roam Lopburi are a symbol of local culture, and a major tourist draw.

Thai wildlife officials have laid out a plan to bring peace to a city after at least a decade of human-monkey conflict.

The macaques that roam Lopburi are a symbol of local culture, and a major tourist draw.

But after years of dangerous encounters with residents and visitors and several failed attempts to bring peace with population controls, local people and businesses have had enough.

The monkeys frequently try to snatch food from humans, sometimes resulting in tussles that can leave people with scratches and other injuries.

But outrage grew in March when a woman dislocated her knee after a monkey pulled her off her feet in an effort to grab food, and another man was knocked off a motorcycle by a hungry monkey.

Authorities hope to round up some 2,500 urban monkeys and place them in massive enclosures, said Athapol Charoenshunsa, the director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

They will work with wildlife experts to find a way for a limited number of monkeys to stay at liberty in the city, he added.

“I don’t want humans to have to hurt monkeys, and I don’t want monkeys to have to hurt humans,” he told reporters during a news conference in Bangkok.

An official monkey catching campaign has been launched, prioritising more aggressive alpha males. It has caught 37 monkeys so far, most of whom have been placed under the care of wildlife authorities in the neighbouring province of Saraburi, while others were sent to the Lopburi zoo.

Officials said they plan to capture the rest of the monkeys once the enclosures are complete, especially those in the residential areas. Separate cages will be prepared for different troops of monkeys to prevent them from fighting.

Monkeys eat fruit during a festival in Thailand
The monkeys frequently try to snatch food from humans (AP)

Mr Athapol said he expects the first phase of the operation to start within weeks, and believes the huge cages will be able to contain thousands of them and “will solve the problem very quickly”.

The monkeys are a symbol of the province, about 90 miles north of Bangkok, where the ancient Three Pagodas temple celebrates an annual Monkey Buffet festival, and they are commonly seen throughout the city. Macaques are classified as a protected species under Thailand’s wildlife conservation law.

Mr Athapol said people should not see monkeys as villains, saying that the authorities might have not been efficient enough in their work to control the simian population, leading to clashes between the animals and human residents.

People also need to adapt to the city’s monkeys, said Phadej Laithong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, explaining that a lack of natural food sources prompts the animals to find food wherever they can, including from humans.

By Press Association

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