Macaques run amok in Thai town

Arnun Chonmahatrakool
Phetchaburi, Thailand
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A macaque sits on a rail at a viewing spot in Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park overlooking Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok, Aug. 3, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A troop of macaques blocks traffic in Phetchaburi town, Aug. 2, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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Students line up for the morning flag salute at the Prommanusorn School as a macaque walks along a ledge above them, in Phetchaburi, Thailand, Aug. 3, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A tourist tosses slices of bread to the macaques, Aug. 1, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A young macaque feasts on food scraps, Aug. 3, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A female macaque carries her baby and bread slices, Aug. 1, 2023. (Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A macaque eats instant noodles while crossing a street in front of a car in Phetchaburi province, Thailand, Aug. 1, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A macaque blocks a passenger’s effort to exit a car in Khao Wang area, Aug. 1, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A macaque family shelters on top of a traffic light pole in Phetchaburi province, Aug. 1, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A female macaque protects her baby, Aug. 1, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A monk passes a macque on a street in Phetchaburi province, Aug 2, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

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A macaque gathers food on the rooftop of Wat Tham Kaew, a Buddhist temple in Phetchaburi province, Aug. 3, 2023. [Arnun Chonmahatrakool/BenarNews]

Marauding macaques have invaded Phetchaburi, a town south of Bangkok. 

They are damaging property and pestering people in and around Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, a local landmark, leading local officials to propose that these monkeys be de-listed as a protected species.

The macaques can be seen everywhere here. 

They’re perched atop buildings and traffic lights, and wait to greet motorists alighting from vehicles. Packs of these monkeys show up at temples, schools and shops while blocking traffic as they seek food. 

Some people have been shooing away the tailed critters with sticks. Others attract them by offering loaves of bread. 

“They come down here to find food, steal goods in my shop. No agencies helped me when I filed complaints,” Waraporn Ratanapobsil, a dessert shop owner, told BenarNews. “The monkeys should live in the jungles. They are not urban animals.” 

The region’s macaque population has exploded from 2,000 to 12,000 over the last decade despite more recent population-control efforts, authorities said. Beginning in 2006, authorities performed vasectomies on males or injected females with birth control. 

In July, Phetchaburi Gov. Natttachai Nampoonsuksan visited Phra Nakhon Khiri (also known as  Khao Wang) before proposing that macaques be removed from the list of protected species to control the population. But the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation turned down his proposal. 

Instead, the department and government of Phetchaburi province are considering resettling the monkeys on a few islands in the Gulf of Thailand, if it proves feasible. That action would require public hearings first.


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