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Lopburi’s Battle Against Monkey Mayhem: Mayor Jamroen’s Plan to Transform Ghost Town Back to Glory

Imagine a city where the hustle and bustle of trade and daily life is overshadowed by a rather unusual problem – an overwhelming population of mischievous monkeys! This is the reality for the residents of Lopburi, a once thriving trade hub in Thailand, now teetering on the edge of becoming a ghost town. The cause? Over 5,000 crab-eating macaques that have taken to the streets, causing chaos and driving potential visitors and business away.

In an effort to reclaim the city from these furry menaces, the Lopburi Municipality, led by the proactive Mayor Jamroen Salacheep, has teamed up with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Together, they’ve embarked on an ambitious plan to gently relocate the macaques to a sprawling new home known as the “Monkey Garden.” This massive refuge spans over 13 rai (approximately 2.08 hectares) in the Pho Kao Ton community of Lopburiā€™s Muang district, where these primates can enjoy a slice of wilderness and eventually find their way back to the wild.

The necessity of such an initiative is underscored by the daily struggles faced by Lopburi’s residents. One vivid illustration that caught the nation’s attention, and quickly turned into a meme, was a photograph capturing a schoolgirl humorously brandishing a toy gun at a curious monkey while balancing bags of beverages. This image, while amusing to outsiders, starkly represents the daily reality of living in close quarters with these cunning primates, notorious for swiping food and even valuables from locals and tourists alike.

Such is the extent of the monkey mayhem that Lopburi has seen a steady exodus of businesses and a significant drop in tourism. Songsak Techaiya, a local cloth vendor, lamented the city’s transformation into a “ghost town,” with the monkey population driving tourists away and harming trade. “Many shops closed down or moved out of the city area,” he recounted, expressing a sentiment echoed by many in the community.

The challenge of managing the monkey population is not new. Attempts to relocate them, especially from popular tourist spots like the Prang Sam Yot pagoda ruins and the Phra Kan Shrine, were met with resistance. However, the dire situation has brought “all the sectors” together, according to Athapol Charoenshunsa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, signaling a collective endeavor to resolve the issue.

Action has been underway for some time, with a sterilization program initiated back in 2014 as part of efforts to control the monkey population. To date, out of the 5,709 macaques reported last year, a total of 5,135 have been sterilized, with 2,757 of those in the municipality area. This initiative has gradually reduced their numbers, from a staggering 9,324 in 2018 to more manageable levels, although the challenges persist.

The vision for Lopburi’s future is one where monkeys remain a symbol of the province, but their numbers are maintained at levels that allow humans and primates to coexist peacefully. The move to the Monkey Garden is a hopeful step towards restoring balance, ensuring that Lopburi can reclaim its reputation as a vibrant city, free from the clutches of its current monkey chaos. As the city embarks on this audacious plan, the hope is that Lopburi will soon no longer be known as a ghost town, but rather a thriving community where both residents and wildlife can flourish.

14 Comments

  1. EcoWarrior99 February 8, 2024

    This plan to relocate the monkeys seems like a band-aid solution. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on creating a sustainable cohabitation environment rather than just shuffling the problem to a different location?

    • LocalLopburi February 8, 2024

      You’re not seeing the daily chaos we endure. This isn’t just about cohabitation; it’s about survival. Businesses are shutting down. I’m all for preserving wildlife, but there has to be a balance.

      • EcoWarrior99 February 8, 2024

        I get your point, but relocating them doesn’t ensure they won’t come back or that new issues won’t arise. What about focusing on education and integrating more permanent, humane solutions?

    • PrimatePal February 8, 2024

      True, but you also have to consider the welfare of these animals. Is the proposed ‘Monkey Garden’ equipped to handle their needs? There are so many examples where good intentions ended disastrously for wildlife.

      • LocalLopburi February 8, 2024

        The authorities have promised to create a space that mimics their natural habitat. Honestly, anything is better than continuing this standoff in the streets.

  2. MemeLover February 8, 2024

    Lol, that image of the girl with the toy gun and the monkey is golden. Sums up 2020 perfectly.

    • RealistRay February 8, 2024

      It’s funny until you realize that’s someone’s daily struggle. We should be figuring out solutions, not laughing at their problems.

  3. HumanityFirst February 8, 2024

    I sympathize with the residents, but mass relocation of animals can have unforeseen ecological impacts. Has there been any environmental impact assessment?

    • ScienceSays February 8, 2024

      Exactly my thoughts. Displacing such a large number of macaques could disrupt local ecosystems in unforeseen ways. It’s a complex issue that requires a lot more study.

      • LocalGuy February 8, 2024

        I hear you, but living here is becoming unbearable. It’s easy to talk about studies and assessments when you’re not the one affected.

  4. TravelBug February 8, 2024

    I visited Lopburi a few years back and the monkeys were the main attraction. It’s sad to see the city suffering. Hope this plan works out for both the people and monkeys.

    • HistorianHarold February 8, 2024

      The irony is that these monkeys were once considered a draw for tourists, and now they’re the reason tourists are staying away. It’s quite a conundrum.

  5. CityPlanner February 8, 2024

    From an urban development perspective, this is fascinating. Managing wildlife within urban spaces is a growing challenge worldwide. Lopburi could set a precedent with its handling of this situation.

    • EcoWarrior99 February 8, 2024

      A good point. The world will be watching. Success here could indeed provide a blueprint for other cities facing similar issues.

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