Monkey zones in the city, people staying indoors, and gang wars happening on the streets – this is the city of Lopburi which is overrun by mischievous monkeys.
Before the coronavirus lockdown, Thai residents tolerated the animals as they attracted tourists who paid enough to take photos and feed them.
However, travel restrictions prevented tourists from visiting and the primates are running out of food, making them violent and destructive.
In March, the monkeys were photographed getting into a large fight over fruits after their regular supply stopped. To keep the peace, people have resorted to feeding them junk food but many think the sugary foods made them sex-mad and they are now breeding faster than ever.
“The more they eat, the more energy they have… so they breed more,” said Pramot Ketampai, who manages the Prang Sam Yod temple.
A resident named Kuljira Taechawattanawanna says she feels like a prisoner in her own home. “We live in a cage but the monkeys live outside,” she expressed. “Their excrement is everywhere, the smell is unbearable especially when it rains.”
The monkeys rule the streets in Lopbury, ripping the rubber seals from car doors and patrolling the walls all day and all night.
Videos show hundreds of monkeys fighting over food in the streets and their increasing numbers have made the lives of the residents difficult.
Many areas of the city have been surrendered to primates and one abandoned cinema became the macaques’ headquarters and also cemetery.
A store owner even displayed crocodile and tiger toys in an attempt to scare off the monkeys.
Wildlife department officers lure the monkeys into cages with food and take them to clinics where they are sterilized. However, the move may not be enough to stop their numbers so the department is making a long-term plan to build a sanctuary in a different area of the city.
“We need to do a survey of the people living in the area first,” Narongporn Daudduem of the wildlife department said. “It’s like dumping garbage in front of their houses and asking them if they’re happy or not.”
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