Monkey sterilisation in Thailand as hungry animals fight for food

Mass monkey sterilisation carried out in Thailand as hungry animals fight tourist city locals for food

  • Lopburi province and its 2,000 monkeys have long been a draw for tourists from around the world
  • But since Thailand closed its borders on April 4 to control coronavirus infection, monkeys have been affected
  • In March, video showed them brawling over food in the street because of a decline in tourists   
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Thailand has started sterilising hundreds of monkeys in a city famous for its macaque population, as the coronavirus pandemic leaves them hungry, aggressive and wrestling food from terrified residents.

Central Thailand’s Lopburi province and its 2,000 monkeys have long been a draw for tourists from around the world, who typically feed them and pose with them for selfies.

But since Thailand closed its borders on April 4 to control coronavirus infection, the monkeys are not adapting well to their new normal.

As a result, Lopburi’s authorities have begun catching, sedating and sterilising what is hoped will be 500 of the monkeys in the hope of slowing the growth of the population. 

Thailand has started sterilising hundreds of monkeys in a city famous for its macaque population, as the coronavirus pandemic leaves them hungry, aggressive and wrestling food from terrified residents

Lopburi province and its 2,000 monkeys have long been a draw for tourists from around the world, who typically feed them and pose with them for selfies. Pictured: One of the monkeys after being sedated

‘They’re so used to having tourists feed them and the city provides no space for them to fend for themselves,’ said Supakarn Kaewchot, a government veterinarian.

‘With the tourists gone, they’ve been more aggressive, fighting humans for food to survive,’ she told Reuters.

‘They’re invading buildings and forcing locals to flee their homes.’

Even before Thailand closed its borders, incredible footage showed the animals brawling over scraps of food in the street in Lopburi in March as a result of the lack of tourists.

The animals were reported to be part of two ‘rival gangs’ made up of the monkeys who dwell in the city and those from the temple areas who were fighting over food.

But since Thailand closed its borders on April 4 to control coronavirus infections, the monkeys are not adapting well to their new normal. As a result, Lopburi’s authorities caught 300 of the monkeys and sedated, shaved and tattooed them before sterilising them with a vasectomy or tubal ligation operation

Even before Thailand closed its borders, incredible footage showed the animals brawling over scraps of food in the street in Lopburi in March as a result of the lack of tourists 

Unlike monkeys in the wild, city monkeys need not hunt for food, giving them more time and energy to reproduce and cause trouble, Supakarn said. Pictured: The monkeys after their sterilisation operation 

To try to control their fast-growing population, authorities this week placed big cages around the city with tantalizing fruits in them

Those living in the temple areas reportedly ventured into the city in the search of food, leading to the fight.  

Unlike monkeys in the wild, city monkeys need not hunt for food, giving them more time and energy to reproduce and cause trouble, Supakarn said.

To try to control their fast-growing population, authorities this week placed big cages around the city with tantalizing fruits in them.

From the cages, the monkeys were transferred to an operating table, where they were sedated, shaved and tattooed with a unique reference number under their arms.

They laid on their backs under a green cloth as vets performed a vasectomy or a tubal ligation operation.

The sleeping monkeys got one night to recover before being taken back to their respective tribes.

From the cages, the monkeys were transferred to an operating table, where they were sedated, shaved and tattooed with a unique reference number under their arms

The animals were weighed and photographed before underdoing the sterilisation procedure

They also had permanent ink tattooed onto their chin so they could be identified in future

They laid on their backs under a green cloth as vets performed a vasectomy or a tubal ligation operation

The government aims to sterilise 500 of the macaques over the next two months.

Supakarn said the sterilisation would pose no threat to the monkey population and the aim was just to slow down the rate of its urban growth.

‘We’re not doing this in the wild, only in the city areas,’ she added.  

The video filmed in March showed hundreds of monkeys crossing a road and then chasing a single monkey which had got hold of a banana. 

At first the primates were seen running independently as they appeared to look for food. 

But then the noise of their cries increased dramatically as dozens chased a single monkey which seemed to have a banana. 

They were seen jumping on it and others as they fought over the food. 

The sleeping monkeys got one night to recover before being taken back to their respective tribes

The government aims to sterilise 500 of the macaques over the next two months. Supakarn said the sterilisation would pose no threat to the monkey population and the aim was just to slow down the rate of its urban growth

The sedated monkeys lay opposite each other while vets from Thailand’s Department of National Parks sterilised them

Even locals who were used to seeing the monkeys were shocked by their ferocity.

Onlooker Sasaluk Rattanachai captured the scene from outside a shop where she works.

She said: ‘They looked more like wild dogs than monkeys. They went crazy for the single piece of food. I’ve never seen them this aggressive.

‘I think the monkeys were very, very hungry. There’s normally a lot of tourists here to feed the monkeys but now there are not as many, because of the coronavirus.’

The small macaques wore identification bracelets so that vets could tell them apart before they were returned to their respective tribes

It is hoped the sterilisation procedure will slow down the rate of growth in the monkey population

Lopburi is home to thousands of wild monkeys that roam the streets and buildings. Many live in the grounds of the city’s ancient Buddhist temples.

It is said to be divided between the monkeys which live in the temple areas, and those which live in the city, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

With their territories divided by a train track, the two groups do not ordinarily meet, but ended up doing so before the filmed fight.  

This monkey was pictured as it was carried to where it was laid down after its operation

This monkey was seen being given anaesthetic as it sat in a cage ahead of its sterilisation operation

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