Lop Buri macaques scaring off tourists
'Monkey forum' seeks peaceful coexistence with residents
Various solutions such as controlling their population, creating food zones and strongly enforcing regulations were among the recommendations made at a "Monkey Forum" this week to promote the peaceful coexistence of humans and crab-eating macaques in Lop Buri.
The seminar was held to discuss solutions to the problems monkeys cause in communities for the convenience of local residents and other stakeholders in Lop Buri, where monkeys are both a symbol of the province and a major tourist attraction.
The issue has come to the fore as the animals have become more aggressive lately, triggering conflicts with people and contributing to a decline in the number of visitors.
The matter was discussed by various parties including the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Thepsatri Rajabhat University (TRU), Kasetsart University (KU), Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA) and Thailand Travel Parties.
Duangjai Boonkusol, associate professor at TRU's Faculty of Science and Technology, said the monkey's population was found to have increased in recent years, growing from 2,280 in 2015 to 3,260 in 2019.
To keep a lid on their numbers, Ms Duangjai said the TRU has been working with municipal and related agencies to carry out a mass sterilisation campaign since 2016. So far, more than 1,900 monkeys have been sterilised.
The TRU is also aware the monkeys are struggling to find enough food resources, which inevitably makes them dependent on humans.
"Although some people pass by to give them food, the monkeys' daily routines have changed quite a lot," she said.
"The TRU recommended designating food zones near where they live in seven areas -- Phra Prang Sam Yot, near the Malai Rama Theatre; the Hindu-Buddhist shrine San Phra Kan; Chayovanish shop; Muang Thong Hotel; Manora Market; and the Seng Heng grocery shop."
Ms Duangjai said the TRU also recommended concerned agencies come up with regulations including better garbage management after feeding the monkeys.
Phuriwat Limthavonrus, chairman of Thailand Travel Parties, said the monkeys' behaviour was driving away tourists.
"Since they became more violent, the number of tourists has also reduced. Many people hope the post-Covid situation will cause the system to reset with regulations properly enforced for the safety of tourists," he said.
Senator Weerasak Kowsurat, the committee's deputy chairman, said all parties in Lop Buri should take responsibility for helping local residents to better understand and harmoniously coexist with the animals.