Thai residents live in fear as monkey gangs take over city

By MiNDFOOD

Thai residents live in fear as monkey gangs take over city
Gang fights, barricades and violent attacks. This is the reality for residents in the Thai city of Lopburi. But it's not people cause mayhem, it's monkeys. 

A growing population of longtail macaques have overrun the Thai city of Lopburi and residents say they are living in fear.

Pre-pandemic, the monkeys were a tourist must-see, bringing in huge crowds of overseas travellers to feed the monkeys bananas and snap a selfie.

But, with international tourism brought to a halt amid the pandemic and their food supply dried up, the monkeys have been terrorising locals and becoming more aggressive every day.

“We live in a cage but the monkeys live outside,” one local told The Guardian, pointing to an overhead netting set up to cover their terrace. “Their excrement is everywhere, the smell is unbearable especially when it rains.”

A government sterilisation campaign has been launched to combat the growing population – numbers of macaques have doubled in three years to 6,000.

Footage on social media in March went viral showing rival monkey gangs fighting over food.

 

Locals say the monkeys have taken over an abandoned cinema as their headquarters.

Efforts to curb the monkey brawls with junk food have backfired as the sugary-food has fuelled their sex drive.

“The more they eat, the more energy they have … so they breed more,” says Pramot Ketampai, a local who manages one of the surrounding temple shrines.

By catching then sterilising the monkeys, local authorities aim to fix hundreds of the wild creatures to prevent population numbers growing.

The government also has a long-term plan to build a sanctuary for the monkeys in another part of the city.

One shop owner says despite the animals terrorising his shop, he will miss seeing the monkeys around if they’re moved.

“I’m used to seeing them walking around, playing on the street,” he says. “If they’re all gone, I’d definitely be lonely.”

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