Thai government sterilises monkeys left starving during coronavirus lockdown after terrorising city
Two monkeys are considered sedated when vets perform surgery. (Reuters)
Thailand sterilizes hundreds of monkeys because they have starved to death from the corona virus and are aggressive against local residents.
Lopburi Province is a region known for its 2,000-strong macaque population, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Tourists generally feed the monkeys and take selfies, but since the country was closed in early April, primates have been hungry for food.
"They are so used to tourists feeding them, and the city has no place to take care of themselves," said Supakarn Kaewchot, a government veterinarian.
A monkey is anesthetized before being sterilized. (Reuters)
A veterinarian shaves a monkey's chest before a sterilization procedure. (Reuters)
"After the tourists left, they were more aggressive and fought against people to survive," she told Reuters.
"They invade buildings and force locals to flee their homes."
Locals have also noticed the dramatic impact of the lack of tourism on the monkeys.
"It is summer, we usually see a lot of tourists, but now, because of the outbreak, there are so few that the markets are very quiet," said Sasaluk Rattanacha.
Monkeys are tattooed after surgery. (Reuters)
Monkeys are calmed when they recover. (Reuters)
"Not enough tourists come to leave food for the monkeys in the Prang Sam Yod [temple]."
Since the monkeys no longer live in a wild environment, they are not used to foraging and have not adapted well to the problems caused by the pandemic.
To prevent them from causing problems, the authorities have set up large cages with tempting fruits in the city, hoping to lure around 300 monkeys for sterilization.
Captured monkeys are sedated, shaved and tattooed with a unique reference number under the arms.
A pair of monkeys recovering before being released into the wild. (Reuters)
Monkeys spend the night in a veterinary surgery to recover. (Reuters)
They are then returned to their tribe after being given a night to recover from the surgery.
The authorities in the region hope to be able to sterilize 500 macaques in the next two months.
Supakarn said sterilization would not pose a threat to the monkey population, and the goal was only to slow the rate of their urban growth.
"We don't do this in the wild, but only in urban areas," she added.
Thailand has recorded just over 3,000 coronavirus cases and a total of 58 deaths.
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