Thai Town Tormented, Maddened by Marauding Wild Monkeys

AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File

Of all the pesky animal pests that ever made a nuisance of themselves, monkeys have to be among the most vexing. They are smart, adaptable, dexterous - they even have little hands - frequently bad-tempered, and they breed rapidly. A town in Thailand is beset by just such a problem, and their methods for dealing with the critters are novel, but will probably be futile in the end:


A Thai town, run ragged by its ever-growing population of marauding wild monkeys, launched an offensive against the simian raiders on Friday, using trickery and ripe tropical fruit.

Several high-profile cases of monkey-human conflict recently convinced authorities in Lopburi in central Thailand that they had to reduce the animals’ numbers.

If all goes well, most will end up behind bars, before starting a new life elsewhere.

The first stage of the plan, instituted Friday, is to bait cages with the animals’ favorite food, then wait for hunger to get the better of their natural caution.

Putting the monkeys behind what we can only describe as monkey bars would seem to be a good idea, but it's likely the monkeys, being monkeys, will figure the ruse out before long. While that's liable to make the townspeople go ape over the long-term failure, they should resign themselves to this being an ongoing arms race.

At least in Thailand, people seem to be of a more practical mindset when it comes to animals, unlike many in the Western world who harbor decidedly unrealistic attitudes towards critters.

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So far, the number of monkeys taken is not encouraging:

There are thought to be around 2,500 monkeys running around the town. The capture of the unlucky trio and around 30 others -– trapped in other parts of the town -- slightly pared down that total.

The effort will go on for five days this month, then is likely to be repeated. Some of the monkeys will be left free to maintain Lopburi’s image as Thailand’s monkey town.

But no one is expecting it to be easy.

“With the monkey’s intelligence, if some of them go into the cage and are caught, the others outside won’t enter the cage to get the food because they’ve already learnt what’s happened to their friends,” said Patarapol Maneeorn from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

One wonders if varying the bait may have an effect. I'm not sure what bait is in use now, although bananas are traditional foods of primates. Still, I seem to remember reading that humans eat more bananas than monkeys; I find that likely, as I've never eaten a monkey. 

The Lopburi officials who contend with the pesky primates may have to be satisfied with holding things to some semblance of a reasonable level. That is, too often, what happens with intrusive and adaptable creatures who find life around people copasetic.


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As further evidence of just how smart and adaptable monkeys are, there is a rumor now that two monkeys were able to set up Amazon accounts and share them around, making them, we suppose, Prime-mates.

Lopburi is going to have to change up its tactics if it really wants to make a serious reduction in the number of monkeys. Maybe someone could train the monkeys to carry explosives into mines, rather than having people deal with the tricky process of blasting; we could even call those unfortunate primates ba-booms

I'll show myself out.


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