June 15, 2021

Coronavirus: Thailand sterilises 500 monkeys to protect locals because there are no tourists to feed them

June 24, 2020

Thailand is sterilising hundreds of monkeys who are forcing locals out of their homes as there are no tourists to feed them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

About 2,000 long-tailed macaques usually draw tourists from around the world to the small city of Lopburi, about 93 miles (150km) northeast of Bangkok.

But since Thailand closed its borders on 4 April to control COVID-19 infections, the monkeys have not adapted well to the lack of people.

The city monkeys, known for their aggression, are fed by tourists and do not usually need to hunt for food.

They now have more time and energy to reproduce and cause trouble, government veterinarian Supakarn Kaewchot said.

With more monkeys and less food they are terrorising the city's 760,000 residents so vets are now trying to sterilise 500 of the macaques over two months.

"They're so used to having tourists feed them and the city provides no space for them to fend for themselves," said Ms Kaewchot.

"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."

Authorities this week placed big cages around the city containing tasty fruit to lure the monkeys in.

Once captured, vets are then transferring them to an operating table where they are sedated, their underarm shaved and tattooed with a unique reference number.

Placed on their backs under a green cloth, the vets perform a vasectomy or a tubal ligation operation.

The monkeys are kept in for one night to recover and then taken back to their respective tribes.

Over the next two months the government aims to sterilise 500 of the monkeys.

Ms Kaewchot said the procedure would not harm the monkey population and the aim is simply to slow down the rate of its urban growth.

"We're not doing this in the wild, only in the city areas," she added.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Thailand's tourism industry hard, with nearly 18% of its GDP coming from tourism.

Thailand has 3,156 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 people have died with the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

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