Thailand develops a plan to end the civil war with the monkeys

Thailand develops a plan to end the civil war with the monkeys

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The macaques roaming Lopburi, Thailand, are a symbol of local culture and a major tourist attraction, but after years of dangerous confrontations with residents and visitors and numerous failed attempts to bring peace through population control, locals and local businesses have had enough.

That is why wildlife officials in Thailand developed a plan, on Wednesday, to bring peace to the city of Lopburi, north of Bangkok, after a decade of conflict between humans and apes, in a development that closely resembles the conflict within the Planet of the Apes film series.

Monkeys often try to snatch food from humans, sometimes leading to fights that can lead to scratches and other injuries, but anger increased in March when a woman dislocated her knee after a monkey pulled her by her feet in an attempt to get food. Another man was knocked off a motorcycle by a hungry monkey.

Athapol Charonshunsa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said authorities hope to collect about 2,500 monkeys in urban areas and place them in huge enclosures.

He added that they will work with wildlife experts to find a way for a limited number of monkeys to remain freely in the city.

The Associated Press quoted Charon Wansa as telling reporters during a press conference in Bangkok: “I don’t want humans to have to hurt monkeys, and I don’t want monkeys to hurt humans.”

An official monkey-hunting campaign was launched last week, with priority given to the most aggressive alpha males, and has captured 37 monkeys so far, most of which have been placed under the care of wildlife authorities in neighboring Saraburi province, while others have been sent to the Lopburi Zoo.

Officials said they plan to catch the rest of the monkeys once they finish building the enclosures, especially those in residential areas. Separate cages will be prepared for different groups of monkeys to prevent them from fighting.

Charon Wansa expects the first phase of the operation to begin within weeks, and believes the huge cages will be able to contain thousands of them and “will solve the problem very quickly.”

Monkeys are a symbol of the province, which is located about 140 kilometers (90 miles) north of Bangkok, where the ancient Three Pagodas celebrates its annual “Monkey Buffet” festival, and they are commonly seen around the city.

Macaques are classified as a protected species under Thailand’s Wildlife Conservation Act.

Some have blamed the city’s monkey problems on tourists and residents who feed the animals, which they say has attracted monkeys to the city and increased their numbers, as well as accustoming them to getting food from humans.

But some residents say previous efforts to limit feeding may have made matters worse, and local officials have begun threatening fines for feeding the monkeys outside a few designated areas around major tourist attractions in recent years. But these feeding areas were controlled by a few monkeys, while the rival gangs grew hungry and turned to harassing humans in other areas to obtain more food.

Charunchunsa said that people should not view monkeys as evil, noting that the authorities may not have been effective enough in their work to control the monkey population.

For his part, Fadig Lithong, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, said that people also need to adapt to the city’s monkeys, explaining that the lack of natural food sources drives the animals to find food wherever they can, including human areas.

Athapul said they are also working in other areas of Thailand that have problems with monkeys, such as Praguap Keri Khan and Phetchaburi, and said 52 of the country’s 77 provinces have reported recurring problems with monkeys.

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