Lop Buri monkey ‘control centre’ proposed

Lop Buri monkey ‘control centre’ proposed

Minister aims to step up sterilisation and move more macaques out of overrun town

Lop Buri monkey ‘control centre’ proposed
Macaques feast during the annual banquet staged for them at the Sam Roi Yot sanctuary in Lop Buri in November 2020. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Phatcharavat Wongsuwan is proposing to open a macaque control centre in Lop Buri to sterilise the monkeys and transfer them to other areas in an attempt to solve the problems they cause in the town.

The initiative will be tracked to see if it is effective, Pol Gen Phatcharavat said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

As for the plan to move the macaques to other provinces, he said there must first be discussions with authorities in the targeted areas to facilitate the move.

The macaque population in Lop Buri province was 5,709 at the end of last year, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Conservation (DNP) said recently, with 2,206 counted in the municipality. That is down from more than 9,000 in 2018 as a result of earlier sterilisation campaigns, officials said.

Atthapol Charoenchansa, the DNP director-general, denied reports that local residents near Khao Yai National Park oppose a government plan to send macaques to a wildlife rescue centre in Nakhon Nayok. Authorities have spoken with local people and they have agreed to the plan, he said on Tuesday.

The facility in Nakhon Nayok has a huge enclosure to accommodate the macaques. They will not be allowed to live in the wild, he said. The monkeys that are being transferred to Khao Yai are now at the Khao Som Phot Wildlife Sanctuary in Lop Buri, he added.

A team of DNP officers this week embarked on a second round of catching aggressive macaques that are causing trouble for local residents in Lop Buri, 180km north of Bangkok.

Last week, the team caught 23 monkeys during a three-day round-up, which was well short of its target of 50.

The team has since adopted a new strategy. Instead of wearing their ranger uniforms, they wore casual dress to trick the monkeys. The second round-up attempt will last until Wednesday.

A convenience store owner in Lop Buri is offering a 500-baht cash reward to anyone who can catch a macaque with a cleft ear that frequently steals items, including underpants and necklaces, from her shop.