LOPBURI – A great deal of monkeys is one of the main reasons why many businesses have closed and relocated from Lopburi’s downtown area. The authorities have attempted to address this issue, but they have yet to find a compromise between preserving Lopburi as a monkey city and ensuring that the monkeys don’t pose a threat to humans.
At the end of the Lopburi visit on Friday, when Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was about to return to Bangkok, a small group of local people presented the Prime Minister with a picture that went viral on the internet of a girl carrying an airsoft machine gun to avoid being attacked by monkeys and a comparison shot of a monkey holding a toy gun at the edge of the fence of Phra Prang Sam Yot Mueang Lopburi District.
The group’s leader asked that the Prime Minister address the issue of monkeys encroaching on Lopburi to avoid the image being shared globally. PM Srettha promised to resolve the problem, but he didn’t get this picture frame.
Previously, when a reporter inquired about the monkey problem in Lopburi Province two days before the Prime Minister’s visit, officials chased the monkeys and placed them in cages. Srettha said he had no idea about the capture, but there would be a discussion.
“In fact, monkeys are one of Lopburi’s unique features. But public safety is also important,” he remarked.
On February 7, the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation signed a memorandum of agreement with the Mayor of Lopburi for academic collaboration in management to eliminate the monkey problem in the old city region through sterilisation.
The Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act protects macaques as wild animals, and the National Park Department is responsible for managing them, according to Mr. Atthaphon Charoenchansa, Director-General of the Department of National Parks.
“If a monkey attacks a person, they are not responsible. However, if anyone hurts monkeys, they will face urgent charges of animal cruelty,” he said.
Mr. Atthaphon stated that the Parks Department will work with Lopburi Municipality to tackle problems systematically using academic methods. In addition to sterilising monkeys, they also want to construct monkey shelter cages. This facility will be used to train monkeys before they are relocated to the Monkey Park in Pho Kao Ton Subdistrict, Mueang Lopburi District. Some of them can even be released back into nature.
Recommend just run away
In a survey of the monkey population in Lopburi province by the National Parks Department in 2015, it was found that there was a total monkey population of 9,324 monkeys. In 2023, the total monkey population was 5,709, including those in Lopburi Municipality, which was about 2,206.
From 2014 until the present, officials have sterilised a total of 5,135 monkeys in Lopburi province, including 2,757 monkeys in Lopburi Municipality and Lopburi District.
“I recommend that you avoid them. If a monkey approaches you, you must flee. Just escape. However, not all monkeys are aggressive; just a few pose a threat. If you have to go to that area, don’t try to grasp onto anything. Dress smartly. We are currently building a cage of 2–3 rai in size for these monkeys to reside in, allowing them to live naturally as they do. During this time, more monkeys will be sterilised. Let there be a balanced number,” Mr. Atthaphon stated.
An alternative method
Jessada Denduangboripant, Lecturer, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, and science communicators have proposed a solution to the city’s monkey overpopulation problem: use the herb Pueraria mirifica for monkey birth control.
He demonstrated how to utilise the herb and place it in water sources where monkeys drink, noting that this method will assist lessen the difficulties of collecting and sterilising monkeys one by one, which is a challenging task at best.