Home Unusual Macaque attacks: humans try to take back a Thai town from monkeys

Macaque attacks: humans try to take back a Thai town from monkeys

by Pierre To
3 minutes to read
Macaque attack: humans try to take back a Thai town from monkeys

With residents barricaded in their homes, rival gangs fighting and no-go areas for humans, welcome to Lopburi, a city in Thailand overrun by monkeys gone mad since the disappearance of tourists and the change in diet.

Primates rule the streets around the Prang Sam Yod templeIn the centre of Lopburi, patrolling the top of the walls and brazenly tearing the rubber seals off car doors.

Their antics were widely tolerated as a major attraction for the hordes of tourists who descended on the city before the coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign tourism has increased, as has the flow of free bananas.

But the pandemic changed all that, as the monkeys were starving, so traders fed them junk food or sweets themselves.

Junk food has replaced bananas and the monkeys have become aggressive.

Many doctors blame junk food for violence.

Images of hundreds of macaques fighting for food in the streets went viral on social media in March.

Their growing numbers - doubling in three years to 6,000 - have made coexistence with humans almost intolerable.

Some parts of the city have simply been abandoned to the monkeys.

An abandoned cinema is the home - and graveyard - of the macaques.

Dead monkeys are buried by their peers in the projection room at the back of the cinema and any human who enters is attacked.

But a government sterilisation campaign is now being carried out against these creatures after the outbreak caused an unexpected change in their behaviour.

The monkeys hold the city

Nobody in Lopburi seems to remember a time without monkeys.

The inhabitants took it upon themselves to feed the macaques to avoid clashes.

But residents say that the sweet diet of soft drinks, cereals and sweets has fuelled their sex lives.

"The more they eat, the more energy they have... so they reproduce more," says Pramot Ketampai, who manages the surrounding shrines at Prang Sam Yod temple.

The fighting of the macaque gangs has drawn the attention of the authorities, who relaunched a sterilisation programme this month after a three-year break.

The wildlife officers lure the animals into cages with fruit and take them to a clinic where they are anaesthetised, sterilised and tattooed to mark their sterilisation.

They aim to cure 500 of these creatures by Friday.

But the campaign may not be enough to reduce their numbers and the ministry has a long-term plan to build a sanctuary in another part of the city.

This project is likely to meet with resistance from local residents.

"We need to survey the local people first," said Narongporn Daudduem of the wildlife department.

"It's like throwing rubbish in front of their houses and asking them if they are happy or not."

Taweesak Srisaguan, a shop owner in Lopburi, says that despite his daily jousting with the creatures, he will miss them if they are moved.

"I'm used to seeing them walking and playing in the street," he says.

"If they all left, I would certainly be lonely.

Video: Hungry monkeys in Lopburi

Source: rappler.com, 

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