Pandemic Affects the Monkeys of Lopburi
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has affected Thailand’s economy and the citizen’s way of life. But it’s also affected the wildlife in the ancient town of Lopburi.
For years, hundreds of Macaque monkeys in the town have survived due to the food handouts of tourists. The local residents sold the food to the tourists. The town actually became a tourist attraction because of the tourists sustaining the local monkey population.
Then COVID-19 happened, and Thailand closed its borders to foreign tourists. Just like that, the food source of the monkeys of Lopburi disappeared, and that’s when the trouble started.
With no reliable food source, the hundreds of monkeys began to starve and fight amongst themselves for any available food. The town’s residents fed them when they could, but times were hard for everyone, and they couldn’t keep up with the sheer number of monkeys. The monkeys resorted to stealing any food carried by the residents, and it became dangerous to venture out shopping where the monkeys were gathered.
Several no-go zones in the town were declared off-limits to people as the hungry and aggressive monkeys took them over.
Sterilization Becomes the Way to Fight Back
Thailand’s Department of National Parks realized that the problem wasn’t going to go away on its own. And with tourism only just beginning to start up again, something had to be done.
The government started a program of sterilization that has targeted 500 of the resident monkeys to get the problem under control and stop the rampant breeding of the monkeys.
But the program doesn’t reduce the existing number of monkeys. For that, a long-term solution is needed. But some residents don’t want to see the monkeys totally eradicated or relocated out of the city. They say that “Monkey City” would lose its reputation, as well as any future tourism, thus demonstrating that both the town’s residents and the monkey population rely on tourism to survive.