Imagine taking a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets of Hua Hin, when suddenly you find yourself in a stand-off with the town’s most audacious residents – long-tailed macaques. These cheeky fellows have been causing quite the ruckus, and the government is stepping in with a plan that’s as audacious as the monkeys themselves. Kanikar Oonjit, the mastermind behind the press briefings, unveils a grand scheme spearheaded by none other than the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, the resolute Patcharawat Wongsuwan.
In a move that combines ecological savvy with urban management, the Minister is urging a full-blown monkey makeover. Officials from the Wildlife Conservation Office alongside the Third Park and Forest Conservation Office under the renowned Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (the guardians of Thailand’s treasured flora and fauna), are sealing a pact of cooperation with the mayor of Hua Hin. Enter the game plan: an ambitious monkey relocation program coupled with a strategic sterilization operation.
Now, let’s talk strategy. The mission? To gently guide these macaques away from the urban jungle and back to their natural abode, without ruffling too many feathers – or furry tails. Kenikar articulates that Patcharawat has already given Attapol Charoenchansa, the director-general of the iron-willed DNPWP, the nod to ink a pivotal memorandum of understanding with the Hua Hin’s leader.
This initiative is not just a whim; it’s a cry for action fueled by the vexation of locals and tourists alike. Picture this: bands of macaques, having multiplied too quick for comfort, roaming a tad too boldly, driven by hunger pangs to do the unimaginable – munch on a tourist’s snack, snatch a resident’s lunch, perhaps even host a fruit heist at the serene Buddhist temple. These wild antics have moved the macaques from endearing to worrisome in the public eye.
The long-tailed macaquess, while a fascinating spectacle, are not above the law – the wildlife conservation and protection act of BE 2562 (2019) to be exact. Kenikar elucidates that this act ensures the macaques’ wellbeing is a priority, hence, the capture-and-sterilize initiative is a delicate dance to balance human interests with those of wildlife.
Upon capture, each macaque will take a short ‘sabbatical’ in a cage to temper its wild spirit. The goal? A peaceful transition to an idyllic wildlife sanctuary, where they can swing from tree to tree, their natural monkey business undisturbed by human interference.
The macaque conundrum isn’t breaking news in Hua Hin. It has persisted for over a decade with most of these furry creatures calling the secluded nooks of Khao Takiab mountain home, venturing out only to charm – or alarm – the unsuspecting populace. Previous capture attempts in 2017 barely made a dent, as the macaques multiplied with enviable speed.
And who can forget the great monkey parade of 2021? An entire legion – an army even – of macaques streamed from their mountain stronghold, traversing walls and tightroping across electric cables right into town, all in quest for a bite.
There’s no doubt about it: Hua Hin is ready for change. Under the watchful eye of Patcharawat Wongsuwan and his coalition of wildlife protectors and city planners, the gears are in motion for a monkey relocation program laced with empathy and precision. If all goes according to plan, the people of Hua Hin will soon be able to enjoy their beautiful town in peace, while the long-tailed macaques embark on a new chapter in their woodland homes.