Thai town overrun by wild monkeys trying trickery to catch and send many away

Thai town overrun by wild monkeys trying trickery to catch and send many away

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Lopburi, Thailand — – A Thai city, ravaged by its ever-growing population of feral monkeys, launched an offensive against the apes on Friday, using tricks and ripe tropical fruits.

Several high-profile cases of conflict between monkeys and humans recently convinced authorities in Lopburi, central Thailand, that they needed to reduce the number of animals.

If all goes well, most will end up behind bars before starting a new life elsewhere.

The first stage of the plan, instituted on Friday, involves baiting the cages with the animals' favorite food, then waiting for hunger to take its natural precaution.

Monkeys from Thailand
Monkeys sit at traffic lights in Lopburi province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, on May 24, 2024.

Sakchai Lalit / AP


There was early success for the street catchers, with three of the macaques falling for the ruse and ending up trapped because they had liked a taste of rambutan fruit. The cages had been placed outside earlier in the week, so the monkeys got used to them and found them less threatening.

There are believed to be around 2,500 monkeys running around the city. The capture of the unfortunate trio and about 30 others, caught in other parts of the city, reduced that total slightly.

The effort will run for five days this month, after which it is likely to be repeated. Some of the monkeys will be set free to maintain Lopburi's image as Thailand's monkey city.

A challenging company

But no one expects it to be easy.

“With the monkey's intelligence, if some of them go into the cage and get caught, the others outside won't go into the cage to get the food because they've already learned what happened to their friends,” he said Patarapol Maneeorn, from Thailand. Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Roaming monkeys have long been a symbol of the city, 90 miles north of Bangkok, and are a major tourist attraction. However, they have become increasingly aggressive, with several videos of them snatching food from residents and causing injuries widely shared online.

Now an auto parts store trades from behind the wire. The owners erected it at the time of the coronavirus pandemic, but keeping out light-fingered primates was also a primary concern. They say they have adapted to the monkey problem, but not everyone.

APTOPIX Monkeys from Thailand
A worker chases monkeys outside a spare parts shop in Lopburi province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 24, 2024.

Sakchai Lalit / AP


“When there are many monkeys around, customers are afraid to buy the goods in the store. Only our regulars are not scared,” Supaporn Tantiwong said.

The city's mayor, Chamroen Salacheep, agrees that the monkeys, while attracting visitors, have also become bad for trade, with shops and malls seeing a drop in revenue and even people's houses are damaged. Lopburi, he said, is almost an “abandoned town”.

“After our operation is over,” Chamroen said, “I will do a big cleanup of the entire city and paint all the buildings to restore the faith of the people.”

These may seem like sad times for the monkeys in Lopburi, but there is a plan to give them a fresh start.

On Friday, authorities began sedating them for health checks before cleaning and sterilizing them and tattooing them for identification to keep an accurate record.

After that, they will be moved to a series of huge pens on the outskirts of the city center while they are found a permanent home.



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