Macaque wreaks havoc in residential area of Japanese city
A series of monkey attacks in a residential area of Yamaguchi City, particularly against children and elderly women, have left dozens injured and officials scrambling for a solution.
Between July 8 and 24, some 38 people have either been bitten or scratched by a monkey in the area near JR Shin-Yamaguchi Station. After city officials failed to capture this elusive monkey, who seems to suddenly appear out of nowhere, they decided to turn to tranquiliser guns.
According to Yamaguchi police, a Japanese macaque about 50 centimetres tall was sighted. All attacks were concentrated within a 1-kilometre radius and mostly targeted at children below age 12 or women 60 or older.
Initial attacks came from the monkey entering a house through an open window, but more recently the attacks have been outdoors.
On the morning of July 17, a 75-year-old woman living on the second floor of an apartment building in the city was doing laundry on her balcony when a monkey suddenly grabbed her right leg. She shook the animal off, but it went around to her back and scratched her.
“I never imagined a monkey would come here,” the woman said. “I hope it is caught quickly.”
The city has sent more than a dozen officials in search of the simian and set traps to capture it. In almost all cases when word of a sighting comes in, the chance of capture is already lost by the time they arrive on the scene.
With signs that the monkey is becoming more violent, the city has posted bird and animal-control specialists with tranquiliser guns in areas where the monkey often appears.
“We want to catch it as soon as possible,” said the head of the city’s agricultural policy department.
Similar monkey attacks occurred in Wakamatsu Ward of Kitakyushu from August to October last year. According to the city’s bird and animal damage control department, there were as many as 25 people injured, mostly children and women, and the animal went uncaptured.
“It is highly likely that it is a male monkey that left his troop and is on its own,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, 64, a curator at the Yamaguchi Museum and an expert on primate ecology. “It may have come to the city by mistake and, perceiving children and women as weaker, proceeded to attack them.”
Tanaka said the first step in capturing such a monkey is to gather more information on sightings and identify where it will appear.
The Japan News
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