Monkeys ‘terrorise town’ as rival gangs battle for food and territory

Wild monkeys are rampaging through a town, terrorising residents and causing chaos as they face off in turf wars.

The town of Lopburi in Thailand is famous for its sprawling population of macaques, which attracts tourists from around the globe.

However, the pandemic has seen the population multiply dramatically. It has also given the monkeys more access to sugary snacks and drinks, with some apparently becoming hooked.

Tourists have been able to return to Lopburi since November, but they come back to a town under siege.

Supakarn Kaewchot, a government veterinarian, explained: "The monkeys are so used to having tourists feed them and the city provides no space for them to fend for themselves.

"With the tourists gone, they've been more aggressive, fighting humans for food to survive. They're invading buildings and forcing locals to flee their homes."

Footage captured this week shows the monkeys gathering en masse, ripping through packaged sweets as well as the more traditional bananas.

They have also been spotted climbing onto moving cars, stealing from shops, snatching from humans and fighting violently as they compete for food and territory.

Having co-existed alongside humans for quite some time the monkeys have developed a fearlessness that has become a growing problem for authorities.

In 2020 several of the animals were sterilised to curb population growth, but to no avail.

Environmental officer Narongporn Daudduem has now said that there are plans to build a sanctuary for the macaques, but that the idea is unlikely to go down well with the town's residents.

"We need to do a survey of the people living in the area first," he said.

"It's like dumping garbage in front of their houses and asking them if they're happy or not."

The authorities are still under pressure to do something about the problem given the string of recent monkey-related incidents.

When Thailand was locked down in March 2020, Lopburi became an animal warzone as they openly brawled over scraps.

In another incident in February last year, the monkeys invaded a school's swimming pool area and ravaged the bins, hunting for a meal.

Locals have taken it upon themselves to feed them fast food to prevent the fighting, but this has only led them to seek out food more ferociously.

"The more they eat, the more energy they have," said Pramot Ketampai, who manages a temple shrine in Lopburi.

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