Monkey populations in some parts of Thailand, especially near human settlements and tourists spots, are growing. Last week, 20 long tailed macaque monkeys, a protected species, were found poisoned in Rayong province, believed to be at the hands of local farmers as they had been pillaging crops. Earlier in the the month an Australian tourist was attacked and severely bitten by a monkey at a popular tourist spot in Krabi. If you are visiting Thailand and planning to travel to see its many attractions, chances you will meet these highly intelligent but mischievous creatures and it is always good to be prepared.

Late week in Thailand 20 monkeys, long tailed macaques, were found poisoned in Rayong province thought to be at the hands of a local farmer. The monkeys are reported to have moved towards farms in the area searching for food and water. The week previously, an Australian woman was furiously bitten when attacked by a similar species of monkey at the famous Tiger Temple in Krabi. There are reports of a growing population of monkeys in Thailand who particularly target tourist attractions in the country which are busier than ever as Thai tourism booms. The country has a long association with the animals. They are an intrinsic part of Thai culture and even woven into Thailand’s coconut industry where temple trained monkeys are extremely effective at harvesting the crop. However, for foreigners visiting or living in Thailand, it is important to be cautious with the creatures who can be aggressive, bite, steal and carry dangerous diseases.

Last week saw 20 monkeys poisoned in Thailand’s Rayong province, thought to be at the hands of farmers annoyed at intrusions from the monkeys who moved out of their habitat in search of water. The week before, an Australian woman was attacked and bitten severely by a monkey at the popular Tiger Temple in Krabi. The growing population of monkeys in some areas of Thailand means that they pose an increased risk to visitors who do not know how to handle them. Monkeys bites and attacks are on the rise and caution should always be observed in dealing with the highly intelligent animals who display advanced behavior patterns and levels of thought similar to our own, a trait, alas, that makes them even more challenging to deal with.

Last Thursday in Rayong province, on Thailand’s eastern seaboard, authorities were called by locals in the Klaeng area after the discovery of the dead bodies of 20 monkeys last Wednesday. It is feared the monkeys may well have been poisoned by local farmers. Monkeys are very much part of Thailand’s culture and are very usefully employed in Thailand’s coconuts farms where they are experts at picking coconuts. However, in recent years, they have come into conflict with both foreigners and Thai locals as the booming Thai tourism industry and human activity brings their growing population more and more in contact with human beings.

Monkeys are part of a matriarchal society in Thailand

The monkeys were long tailed macaques also known as crab eating macaques. These monkeys actually live in a matriarchal society with females dominating the groups while younger males leave the group we they get older. The monkeys are well known in Southeast Asia but there are reports of their population declining in the region overall except not in some parts of Thailand particularly areas popular with tourists.

Police investigation launched into the killing of monkeys in Rayong with poisoned water melon

Thai officials, initially called to the scene in Rayong, were government forestry staff who identified and confirmed half eaten watermelons, laced with poison, as the cause of death. Locals in the area have a strong suspicion that one farmer may have carried out the illegal cull of the monkeys. There have been reports of the monkeys falling on local farms recently in search of food and water. This has prompted a police investigation into the matter lead by Police Colonel Chaiyapong Saengpongchai.

Monkeys very akin to humans in their behaviour patterns but can carry infectious diseases

The local community held a funeral prayer for the dead monkeys in a show of respect for the creatures who are long known to live close to human populations, and in particular, in places like Thai and Cambodian temples. These monkeys are known to exhibit very human behaviors from anger and violence to touching reconciliation and friendship. Although they can be kept as pets, they can also be quite aggressive with human beings and reproduce quickly. They eat, essentially, fruit and nuts but can also eat meat and survive on a very broad diet. One of the problems with the monkeys is that they can carry diseases and sickness which can threaten human beings, in particular in Asia, with the herpes B virus.

Thai monks train monkeys to harvest coconuts

The dead monkeys in Rayong were buried solemnly by local villagers at a site near the local Wat Yang Ngam Buddhist temple. In fact, monkeys have long been associated with Buddhist temples in Thailand where monks in some of these institutions train them to work in the highly valuable Thai coconut industry.

Local forest shrine where dead monkeys live is home to 200 animals and more may have died

The local village headman, named in press reports as Sathit Kaewkla, has pointed out that there is a shrine dedicated to Chao Por Yang Ngam located in the nearby forests which is very important to the local people. There are reported to be 200 monkeys of the long tail macaque variety living in the area of the shrine where they hunt and search for food. However, because there was a water shortage this year, he felt that the monkeys may have moved towards the canal in the Klaeng area bringing them into proximity with local farms. He feared that far more than 20 monkeys may have been killed as many more had fled when some of their groups began to die, leaving the poisoned water melons behind.

Another local leader confirmed this theory. Boonseub Klaewkla told the press that he also felt that the monkeys were the victim of an irate farmer whose land they had pillaged. He said that local leaders had informed the villagers that the animals were protected by law and that efforts would be made to set up guard groups to chase off the monkeys in the future.

Krabi, Thailand: 29 year old woman from Australia was aggressively attacked by a furious monkey this month with bites to her arm

A girl from Australia was reported to have been aggressively attacked by a monkey in Krabi, one of Thailand’s most beautiful provinces on southern Thailand’s west coast. This happened days before the discovery in Rayong. The two visitors were hiking in the mountains there along a familiar tourist trail. The incident took place as the two Australian girls, friends enjoying the Thai holiday, were visiting the famous Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi. The incident occurred on January 3rd and Thai police were notified in addition to emergency services.

Emergency services and police rush to the scene

After being informed, and in cooperation with the police, the local emergency response team rushed to the spot to attend the injured girl. When the rescue personnel arrived, they found that a wild monkey had aggressively attacked the 29 year old woman named as Sarina Schaffer from Australia in the grounds of the famous temple. Reports suggest that the monkey jumped on the girl and left 3 bites on her left arm, causing her to bleed and leaving her in both pain and a state of shock. The emergency response team, quickly on the scene, rushed her to Krabi Hospital for further medical care. Bites from monkeys can possibly lead to rabies and it is very important that they are treated both professionally and quickly.

Australian woman’s open wounds led her to panic

The two female friends were strolling around the temple when the monkey suddenly jumped upon one of them. The monkey attacked her from the outset by biting her arm. Both of the Australian women ran quickly down the hiking path seeking help. Their distressed condition was heightened as the wounds, suffered by the Australian girl, were open and quite visible.

Similar incidents reported at the same spot by other tourists with reports of a growing population

There are reported to be a growing number of monkey attacks, like this one ,at the Tiger Cave Temple. The reason is simple, the monkey population is growing very quickly. Each female in the macaque society, which is matriarchal, can produce up to 2 offspring in little over a year. Local authorities in Krabi have a sterilisation policy and program but it is becoming difficult to catch and control the monkeys as they are breeding faster than officials are sterilizing them. The authorities, when they do catch the monkeys and sterilize them, send them to the islands off the coast.

The scarcity of food for a growing population, efforts to catch and remove the creatures as well growing numbers of tourists who often bring snacks may be contributing to an increase in the number of attacks. A BBC TV report some years ago from Uluwata in Indonesia demonstrated that the activities of the monkeys were far more intelligent then we might suppose. Monkeys had developed the intelligence to steal hats, sunglasses and even smartphones in an attempt to blackmail humans into bartering them back. A simple monkey proposition, the stolen items for food. As the incident in last weekend in Rayong shows, these creatures are closer to us than other animals and in ways we may not find altogether pleasant.

Macaque monkey joins the Thai police force

But not all monkeys are on the wrong side of the law in Thailand. In 2010, a UK Daily Mail press report featured a pig tail macaque who had been adopted by a Thai police officer and inducted into the local Thai police force in the country’s southern Yala province, a predominantly muslim part of Thailand suffering from an ongoing local insurgency. Police Corporal Yutthapol Phromdao Yutthapol found the monkey with a broken arm and trained it to collect coconuts and be useful. He then kitted the creature out with his own Thai police uniform and began to take him on patrol. The monkey proved very popular with locals and brought some happiness to checkpoints which were normally tense affairs in the area.

How to avoid monkey bites in Thailand

Monkeys are often angry and can possibly become stimulated by something you are carrying, especially if you are carrying a camera with your hand or most particularly if you have food and refuse to hand it over.They have a faultless sense of smell which in turn detects any well packed food. Monkeys also have the ability to climb on your back; in case it happens, do not panic or even react, it will jump off when it is ready.

Monkeys also rob bags left unattended. Many tourists coming back from their picnics, finding their luggage scattered all over the place. It you notice a monkey showing you its teeth, keep yourself away from it, for this is a sign of aggression not friendliness.

Never smile back at a grinning monkey in Thailand – it’s not a sign of friendship, in fact, be prepared to defend yourself from a frenetic onslaught

The first thing to bear in mind is to stop smiling at them, for monkeys misinterpret smiles and mistake them for a signal of aggression. However, if a monkey smiles at you, back away from the smile immediately. Never offer a monkey food; it is a bad idea to have food around you. Feeding one will attract others, and the refusal to feed the others may result in them attacking you. Also, do not show them that you are afraid. If any monkey begins to act violently, stand still on the spot and wave with your arms as though you were not afraid. If there is a need to retreat, then retreat with your face facing the monkey; do not run away or exhibit signs of fear, for this will only boost the monkey’s confidence. This will not be good for you.

Taking photos also grabs the attention of monkeys and they instinctively do not like it. Seeing its own reflection on the camera, often provokes a very violent attack.

How to deal with a monkey bites – get urgent medical attention and do not take a chance

A monkey’s bite can quite quickly become an emergency case. Monkey are known to carry rabies; even those not diagnosed with rabies can harbor hazardous infections which they can transmit to human beings. Monkey bites must be cleaned with antiseptic water and soap for at least 15 minutes. Then the injured should see a doctor who should prescribe antibiotics and maybe further medical care, especially against the possibility of infection. Rabies is asymptomatic and can be deadly if not treated immediately.

Thai man attacked by monkey who urinated on his motorbike becomes a YouTube hit video

Over three years ago in Thailand’s Chachoengsao province, just to the east of Bangkok, a Thai man in a rural setting arrived back to his motorbike to find a saucy monkey urinating on it. The furious Thai man immediately took umbrage. He shouted and waved at the monkey to stop. In return, the monkey proceeding to bite and tear at the man’s motorbike seat. This prompted the man to advance with his shoe in hand which he fired at the offender. He was not prepared for what happened next.

The monkey furiously attacked, running straight for the man. They locked in a frenzy of violence until the man threw the monkey into vegetation where it still came for him forcing the man to throw sand in the monkeys face. But the monkey still scrambled after him until the Thai man caught the monkey and flung it into the water nearby. The YouTube video was an instant hit. The laughing and guffawing of the Thai man’s friends on the video clip makes the incident appear quite humorous but it could have become quite nasty if there were other monkeys or if the animal had managed to injure the man.

The danger of monkeys in Asia can be seen from the fact that a news report from a day before the monkey attack on the Thai man and his motorbike amused the world. A priest was battered to death by community of monkeys from India with bricks from houses.

Monkey bites are officially dangerous and never to be taken lightly. Monkeys target more women

Academic research conducted by the US National Library of Medicine shows Thailand is a country where visitors are more prone to monkey bites with up to 20 incidents reported each year for the purposes of their study. Women are bitten more often than men. It showed that nearly 60% of bites were to the arms and upper limbs while 30% were to lower limb and 6% to the head.  Although monkeys can carry rabies, it is unlikely to be the case that the monkey has the infection as rabies kills monkeys every quickly. The research indicated that 31% of treatments for travelers in Asia against rabies are caused by monkeys and that the biggest threat to human beings from monkey bites is, in fact, the herpes B virus. The World Health Organization warns that a bite from a monkey should be taken quite seriously. Studies have shown that most monkey attacks occur in the summer and in Thailand, near tourist locations. The monkeys are also more likely to target younger able bodied women.

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