Thousands of marauding monkeys turn Thai town against them

24 May 2024, 13:48 | Updated: 24 May 2024, 15:52

A town in Thailand known for its monkeys has grown weary of them keeping customers and potential residents away.

Locals have begun an offensive against the monkeys in Lopburi, central Thailand - using ripe tropical fruit as bait to lure them into cages.

The animals have become a symbol of Lopburi, a town 90 miles north of Bangkok, which is home to about 2,500 monkeys.

Several high-profile cases of monkey-human conflict recently convinced the authorities that their numbers had to be slashed.

Footage of the animals turning increasingly aggressive has been widely shared online, with some showing the monkeys snatching food from residents or causing injuries.

Inside the ancient city where monkeys look like they're running the show

The first stage of the plan, introduced on Friday, is to bait cages with the animals' favourite food, then wait for them to be hungry enough to try and approach the meal.

'Abandoned town'

The town's mayor Chamroen Salacheep said the monkeys have become bad for trade, with shops and malls seeing a drop in income and even people's homes damaged.

Lopburi, he said, is almost an "abandoned town".

"After our operation is over," Mr Chamroen said, "I will do a big cleaning across the town and paint all the buildings to regain the faith of the people."

There was early success for the catchers on one street, with three of the macaques falling for the ruse and ending up trapped because they had fancied a taste of rambutan fruit.

Some 30 other monkeys, trapped in other parts of the town, were also captured.

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The cages had been placed on the street earlier in the week so the monkeys got used to them and found them less threatening.

But the operation - which will go on for five days this month and will likely be repeated - is bound to encounter some obstacles.

Patarapol Maneeorn, from Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said: "With the monkeys' intelligence, if some of them go into the cage and are caught, the others outside won't enter the cage to get the food because they've already learnt what's happened to their friends."

On Friday, the authorities began sedating the monkeys to carry out health checks before cleaning and sterilising them and inking them with tattoos so they can be identified to keep accurate records.

Afterwards, they will be transferred to a series of huge holding pens just outside the town centre while looking for a permanent home where they can make a fresh start.

Some of the monkeys, however, will be left free to maintain Lopburi's image as Thailand's monkey town.