Monkeys pay price for rubbing Phuket residents the wrong way

national June 14, 2018 01:00

By SALINEE PRAP
THE NATION

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AS PART of an attempt to solve the serious problem of overcrowding of monkeys and macaques, Phuket will, today and tomorrow, start mass sterilisation on dozens of wild monkeys and macaques that were caught earlier this week.



The province started the monkey sterilisation programme after a series of public forums attended by residents in seven affected areas earlier this week agreed to let officials sterilise the monkeys to deal with their rapidly increasing population and the negative impact on locals and tourists. The seven affected areas were: Ban Yamu and Ban Bangrong, both of which are in Tambon Pa Khlok of Thalang district; Khao Toh Sae, Khao Rang, Soi Tha Chin, Soi King Kaew and the Koh Siray Viewpoint in Muang district. 

Residents of Ban Yamu, Ban Bangrong, Soi Tha Chin and Soi King Kaew also backed the idea that some monkeys – after the mass sterilisations – should be relocated to five uninhabited small islands in Phuket that officials had already found with enough food and water. The islands are Koh Phaeng, Koh Payu, Koh Ngam, Koh Tanan and Koh Malee. Residents in three others areas preferred that the sterilised monkeys be returned to their current areas, with “no monkey-feeding” signs in Thai, English, Russian and Chinese languages while some spots will be designated spots for feeding the monkeys.

On Tuesday, the first day of the operation to catch the monkeys, 10 wildlife protection officials caught 34 wild monkeys at Ban Yamu and Ban Bang Rong, where some 140 wild monkeys were roaming around. Veterinarians from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation were present to provide assistance. Another 14 monkeys were caught as of yesterday afternoon. These captive monkeys – kept in large cages that were at first used as traps with food placed inside as bait to lure them – would be moved to the Bang Pae Waterfall where the mass sterilisations will be done today and tomorrow, according to Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area’s Natural and Wildlife Education Centre head Pongchart Chouehorm, who led the operation. 

The capturing of the monkeys will be extended to other target sites in Tambon Rassada of Muang district for mass sterilisations to be conducted at the Phuket City Meeting Hall from June 16-20. 

Besides sterilising the monkeys using minor surgery after which the monkeys can recover in 24 hours, veterinarians would also take pictures, measure body size and collect blood samples of each monkey for disease detection to give vermifuge and antibiotics accordingly. Each monkey would also be marked for the purpose of wildlife survey, officials said. Only the monkeys from Ban Yamu and Ban Bangrong would be moved to Koh Tanan after sterilisation for now, officials said.