Home » Lopburi, Thailand, grapples with a surging monkey inhabitants

Lopburi, Thailand, grapples with a surging monkey inhabitants

by newsking24

Lopburi, Thailand (CNN) — It’s a Friday afternoon on a Thai public vacation in September, and native vacationers are out in drive within the small metropolis of Lopburi.

The attraction? Some 4,500 crab-eating macaques that roam this historic capital’s streets, a lot of which occupy the crumbling Khmer-style Phra Prang Sam Yod — aka Monkey Temple — within the metropolis heart.

The primates not already munching on snacks watch for the vacationers to buy baggage of the fruit, seeds, peanuts and — their favourite — sugary drinks from one of many distributors that line the parking space, prepare observe and close by roads.

Patience is not the macaques’ type. Some rapidly climb up the vacationers’ our bodies to seize the goodies and run.

Others stealthily rip open the luggage that cling from guests’ palms, seeds falling to the bottom as their cohorts rush in to seize their share of the spoils.

Nearby, a vacationer from Bangkok rushes towards one monkey that has snatched his pair of sun shades, which the animal rapidly drops upon realizing it is not edible.

A macaque drinks from a plastic container in entrance of Lopburi’s Prang Sam Yod temple in June.

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/AFP by way of Getty Images

But the distributors are used to their methods, and have methods of maintaining them at bay.

“How do we adapt? We just sell our stuff as normal, but when they come close, trying to steal things, we will use a slingshot and pretend to fire a shot,” says Anekchart, a fruit vendor close to the temple.

“They will just run away. We don’t even have to put a shot inside.”

How did they get there?

Phra Prang Sam Yod was constructed within the 13th century in a closely forested space. Originally a Hindu shrine constructed within the basic Bayon type of Khmer structure, it was later transformed right into a Buddhist temple.

As the city grew up across the website, the monkeys of the forest remained.

And the locals did not thoughts. The macaques had been believed to be residing representatives of the Hindu god Hanuman, thus seen as symbols of fine luck.

But few are feeling all that lucky as of late.

Though the monkeys have at all times been part of native life, placing town on the worldwide tourism map, regular inhabitants development has made their presence more and more difficult.

Narongporn Doodduem, regional director of Thailand’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, tells CNN Travel they solely began monitoring the inhabitants in 2018.

As of the tip of September 2020, there at the moment are 9,054 crab-eating macaques — also called long-tailed macaques — in Lopburi province, with 4,635 within the capital metropolis of the identical identify.

Narongporn says it is unimaginable to disclaim {that a} inhabitants spike in recent times has “ruined the livelihood of local residents.”

The monkeys are recognized for his or her daring habits, invading houses and companies to steal items, ripping at every thing from automobile windshield wipers to deal with window screens, leaving trails of waste behind them.

“People cannot even use rain water collected from their own roofs because of monkey feces, and many also cannot grow crops as they would be destroyed by monkeys,” says Narongporn.

The Covid impact

The coronavirus pandemic has simply exacerbated this longstanding drawback.

With Thailand presently closed to worldwide vacationers, the monkeys in the primary vacationer heart — as soon as accustomed to day by day feasts — now should make do with what the locals and home weekend vacationers feed them.

“There are three main groups of monkeys,” explains Manus Wimuktipan, secretary of the Lopburi Monkey Foundation.

“They live in an abandoned cinema, near the local Muangthong Hotel and in the tourist-frequented Prang Sam Yod area. Besides these three main gangs, there are multiple small groups that are scattered around town.”

Each group protects its territory fiercely, he says.

This is what occurred in March. According to Manus, “the incident took place because the monkeys from at least three gangs all saw a person bringing in bottles of sweetened fermented milk. And every group wanted them because they like this kind of drink very much. And that was the start of the fierce fighting.”

Officials say it is the consumption of those candy drinks and different junk meals that could be a massive a part of the general drawback. And it is not all being immediately handed to them both.

“The monkeys have begun to wait at garbage bins at shops and department stores where humans dump all those tasty foods and snacks,” says Manus. “They have become addicted to human food because it is tasty.”

A veterinarian sterilizes a monkey in Lopburi on June 21, 2020.

A veterinarian sterilizes a monkey in Lopburi on June 21, 2020.

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/AFP by way of Getty Images

In addition to rotting the monkeys’ enamel, these sugary meals and drinks are additionally inflicting them to breed extra usually.

“I have tried to educate tourists and locals about the importance of not feeding monkeys food that’s high in carbohydrates and sugar — this has contributed to the growth of the population in Lopburi significantly,” says Narongporn.

“Naturally, the monkeys would be able to give birth once a year due to the limited amount of food they can find in nature. But city monkeys are consuming food all the time and as a result they are able to give birth twice a year.”

In an effort to tame the inhabitants, the province not too long ago wrapped up its greatest sterilization marketing campaign but.

“This year we sterilized 1,200 monkeys in Lopburi (916 of those were in the city), a new record. Normally we would do around 400 monkeys a year,” says Narongporn.

They’ve been receiving complaints for years, he says, nevertheless it hasn’t been simple to get everybody on the identical web page by way of tips on how to finest sustainably fight the problem.

This 12 months, nevertheless, assist has been widespread.

“I used to receive a lot of resistance from monkey lovers every time we’ve tried to get in to sterilize monkeys,” he says.

“Some wanted to move these monkeys out of Lopburi city totally, but the problems are where do you move them? Who will be taking care of them? What to do if they die or spread disease? It would be just like dumping one’s garbage in another’s house.

“But now it has modified. I’m receiving a number of cooperation from locals — together with these within the tourism business — to resolve this drawback sustainably.”

Monkeys jump onto tourists during the annual "Monkey Buffet" in Lopburi on November 27, 2016.

Monkeys bounce onto vacationers through the annual “Monkey Buffet” in Lopburi on November 27, 2016.


Though the monkeys might be causing difficulties for locals, they are still celebrated as a local icon.

Officials have confirmed to CNN Travel the annual Monkey Buffet Festival will take place at Phra Prang Sam Yod on November 29, as the country has not reported a locally transmitted Covid-19 infection in several weeks.

As part of the festival, the city puts out a huge spread of food and drinks for the monkeys to feast on, an event that in normal years attracts both local and international tourists.

Coexisting with the monkeys

The owners of this Lopburi auto parts shop have learned to coexist with the monkeys.

The house owners of this Lopburi auto elements store have realized to coexist with the monkeys.

Karla Cripps/CNN

Not everyone seems to be discovering it tough to coexist harmoniously with the monkeys.

Staff in a single auto elements store throughout the road from the “Monkey Temple” have learned to adapt and now welcome the macaques’ presence.

As we enter the shop, several monkeys sit quietly on counters and shelves. A small macaque sleeps on a red cloth on a counter.

Pathitpan Tuntiwong, 63, is the owner. He was born and raised in the city, and says he feels sorry for the animals.

His family feeds them daily, and allows the smaller, weaker monkeys — “They’ve been kicked out of their herds,” he says — to come into his shop during the day, some even hanging onto the shirts of staff’s backs as they go about their work.

“We have taken their habitat away, that’s the reason the issue continues,” says Pathitpan.

“Their inhabitants has elevated quickly. It has risen to the purpose the place folks cannot take this anymore. I’ve been residing on this spot for over 60 years. I’ve progressively put up safety to maintain them out of my dwelling and constantly adapt.

“They just don’t know where to find a source of food. There are no trees around, there are no water sources. Their quality of living is bad. We are helping as much as we can.”

A macaque makes itself at home inside a Lopburi autoparts shop.

A macaque makes itself at dwelling inside a Lopburi autoparts store.

Karla Cripps/CNN

While chatting with us, Pathitpan is interrupted mid-sentence as a chaotic scene breaks out on the street in entrance of his store. A pack of monkeys has jumped into the again of a pickup truck that is idling in site visitors, and rapidly begins rummaging via a pile of enormous cooking pots and different containers.

The truck occupants get out and swing on the animals, unsuccessfully trying to scare them off.

“They’re clearly not from here,” laughs Pathitpan. “People in our neighborhood know better than to drive down this road with a truck loaded up like that.”

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