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Khao Yai monkeys want human food

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Khao Yai monkeys are becoming more aggressive as they increasingly move out of the forest looking for a new favourite food: the food we humans eat.

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A driver feeds a wild monkey from his car in Khao Yai National Park. Ecologists say human contact raises the risk of the animals being killed on park roads. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Khao Yai park turns into a planet of the primates

Apinya Wipatayotin

They’re sneaky, they’re cheeky and they’re developing guerrilla tactics in an effort to take your food.

The monkeys in Khao Yai National Park are refining their food-thieving skills and becoming more aggressive, a senior park official has warned.

Assistant national park chief Amnouy Indharak said the behaviour of the monkeys in Khao Yai has become a serious problem as they increasingly imitate human eating patterns.

The monkeys have swapped fruits and vegetables for human food, and they have a particular taste for steamed rice, thanks to tourists who enjoy interacting with them.

An increasing number of monkeys are moving out of the forest to beg for food.

To get more human food, the pesky primates are going to greater lengths to raid tourists’ vehicles.

Mr Amnouy said they are also targeting children that are carrying food, threatening them by showing their teeth and hissing. They have learned that children tend to drop the food, he said.

In some cases, monkeys have broken into houses in the area. One monkey stole a rice cooker filled with steamed rice in front of a tourist, he said.

"I’m afraid they will develop into guerrilla monkeys in a few years," Mr Amnouy said.

Hungry monkeys often target children that are carrying food, threatening them by showing their teeth and hissing.

Mr Amnouy said an increasing number of monkeys are moving out of the forest to beg for food. This is not only leading to more monkey deaths from road accidents, but is affecting the park’s ecological system.

The monkeys in Khao Yai usually stay in groups to collect fruits from trees. While doing this, fruit falls to the forest floor to become food for other animals, such as deer, he said.

With fewer monkeys performing this role, other animals are suffering food shortages.

Mr Amnouy also worries about plastic food packages the monkeys leave behind as they could be dangerous for larger animals.

Many tourists give food to animals despite the possibility of a 500 baht fine. However, the authorities have no set plan to raise awareness of the law or of the consequences of feeding wildlife.

Khao Yai National Park last year welcomed 1.13 million visitors, making it the country’s most popular park.

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Vocabulary:

aggressive : behaving in an angry and violent way towards another person - ก้าวร้าว

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

awareness : knowing that something exists, or having knowledge or experience of a particular thing - การรับรู้, การทราบ, ความตระหนัก

beg : to ask somebody for something especially in an anxious way because you want or need it very much - อ้อนวอน, ขอร้อง

behaviour : the way that someone acts or behaves - พฤติกรรม, การกระทำตัว

cheeky (adj): rude in an amusing or an annoying way - ทะลึ่ง,ไร้ยางอาย,หน้าด้าน

chief : a person with a high rank or the highest rank in a company or an organisation - หัวหน้า, ผู้นำ

consequences : results of effects of something - ผลที่ตามมา

contact (noun): having communication with someone - การติดต่อ การสัมผัส

develop : to think of or produce a new idea, product, etc. and make it successful; to build new houses, factories, etc. on an area of land, especially land that was not being used effectively before - พัฒนา

ecological system : the system of relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area - ความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างสิ่งมีชีวิตในระบบนิเวศน์

ecologist (noun): a scientist who studies ecology, the relation of plants and living creatures to each other and to their environment - นักนิเวศวิทยา

effort : an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม

fine : an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law - ค่าปรับ

go to great lengths (idiom): to put a lot of effort into doing something, especially when this seems extreme - ทำงานหนัก

guerrilla : of a military group that is not official and usually wants to change a political situation - กลุ่มทหารกองโจร  

hiss (verb): to make a sound like a long ‘s’ - ทำเสียงฟ่อ, ฟ่อ

imitate : to copy something - เลียนแบบ

interact with : communicate with or react to - มีปฏิกิริยากับ

particular : specific - เฉพาะ, จำเพาะ, โดยเฉพาะ

pattern : a series of actions or events that together show how things normally happen or are done - แบบฉบับ, แบบแผน

pesky : annoying or causing trouble - น่ารำคาญ

planet : a large round object in space that moves around a star (such as the sun) and receives light from it - ดาวเคราะห์

popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ

primates : members of the most developed and intelligent group of mammals, including humans, monkeys and apes - สัตว์เลี้ยงลูกด้วยนม

raid (verb): to use force to suddenly enter a place - บุกเข้า

refine : to improve something by making small changes to it - ทำให้ดีขึ้น

risk : the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง

role : the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship - บทบาท

senior : with a high rank or position - อาวุโส

set : likely; ready - พร้อม

shortage (noun): when there is not enough of something - การขาดแคลน

skill : the ability to do something well, usually as a result of experience and training - ฝีมือ, ทักษะ

sneaky (adj): behaving in a secret and sometimes dishonest or unpleasant way - ซึ่งลับๆ ล่อๆ (คำไม่เป็นทางการ), ซึ่งหลบๆ ซ่อนๆ

suffer : to experience something very unpleasant or painful - ประสบ

swap : to exchange something for something else - แลกเปลี่ยน

tactics : particular methods or plans for achieving something - กลยุทธ  วิธีการในการวางแผน

target : to deliberately try to attack someone or something - ตั้งเป็นเป้าหมาย

taste (noun): what a person likes or prefers - รสนิยม

tend : to be likely to behave in a particular way or have a particular characteristic - มักจะ

thieving (noun): stealing - การขโมย

threaten (verb): to say or indicate that you might do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something - ขู่เข็ญ คุกคาม ทำให้กลัว

vehicle : a machine that you travel in or on, especially one with an engine that travels on roads, e.g., a car, bus, van, truck, etc. - ยานพาหนะ

wild (adj): growing in the forest or other natural place; not planted, grown or raised by humans - ไม่เชื่อง

wildlife : animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment - สัตว์ป่า

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