Residents of Lopburi town have complained to Thailand’s Prime Minister about monkeys terrorizing the local population and asked him to solve the problem.

Monkey infestation in Lopburi is the main reason why businesses are closing and relocating. Authorities are trying to solve the problem but have yet to find a compromise between keeping Lopburi as a monkey town and ensuring that the monkeys do not pose a threat to people.

At the end of Prime Minister Seththi Thavisin’s visit to Lopburi, as the prime minister was about to return to Bangkok, a group of locals presented the prime minister with a photograph that went viral on social media and received widespread coverage on the internet.

The photo shows a schoolgirl armed with an air-powered strikeball rifle to defend herself from wild monkey attacks. Nearby, for comparison, is a shot of a monkey sitting on the fence of a temple in Lopburi, also holding a toy gun in its paws.

The group leader has asked the Prime Minister to address the issue of monkeys invading Lopburi to avoid spreading the image worldwide. Prime Minister Settha promised to solve the problem but still needs to take the presented photo frame.

Two days before the Prime Minister’s visit, monkeys were captured in Lopburi and put in cages. When a reporter inquired about the monkey problem in Lopburi province, Settha said he was not aware of the capture but that the problem needed to be discussed.

“Actually, monkeys are one of the unique features of Lopburi. But public safety is also important,” the prime minister remarked.

Monkey management in Lopburi

In February, the head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation signed a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of Lopburi on scientific cooperation in wildlife population management to eliminate the monkey problem in the Old Town area through sterilization.

National Parks Department director-general Attaphon Charoenchance said the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act protects macaques as wild animals, and the National Parks Department is responsible for managing wild monkeys.

“If a monkey attacks independently, the person is not responsible. However, those who harm monkeys are charged with animal cruelty,” Attaphone revealed.

Attthaphon said the National Parks Department is collaborating with Lopburi Municipality to tackle the problems systematically using academic methods.

Apart from sterilizing the macaques, cages are also expected to be built to shelter the monkeys temporarily. The animals will be trained in them before they are moved to the Monkey Park in Lopburi. Some of the animals may even be released back into the wild.

It is recommended just to run away.

A 2015 survey of the monkey population in Lopburi province conducted by the Department of National Parks found that the monkey population is 9,324. In 2023, the province’s monkey population was 5,709 individuals, including about 2,206 in Lopburi town.

From 2014 to date, Lopburi province has sterilized 5135 monkeys, including 2757 in Lopburi city and district.

“I recommend avoiding macaques. If a monkey approaches, run away. Just run away. However, not all monkeys are aggressive; only some of the primates pose a threat to humans.”

“We build an enclosure for the monkeys the size of 2-3 rai, where the macaques will live naturally. During this time, more wild individuals are sterilized. Let the number of monkeys remain balanced,” Attaphone stated.

Alternative management method

Jessada Denduangboripant, a lecturer at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, and science communicators have proposed an alternative solution to the problem of monkey overpopulation in the city: using the grass Pueraria Mirifica to control monkey births.

Jessada demonstrated how to use the proposed grass and place the plant in water sources where monkeys drink. He said the method would help reduce the difficulty of catching and sterilizing monkeys one at a time, a difficult task at best.

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