Commander of tourist police says he has been told that there are incidents of monkey bites on Toah Sae Hill on a daily basis but the area remains very popular with tourists visiting Phuket. On Monday, he ordered improved signage and more first aid points and better communication between security guards.

A video of a Russian tourist after being severely bitten last Sunday in Phuket has prompted a review by police into signage and security against the threat on the highest hill in the city which is also home to over 400 wild monkeys or macaques who pose a real threat to human visitors who step out of line while feeding them.

On Monday, following viral video post of a tourist being bitten, the Commander of the Tourist Police Major General Krissak Songmoonna, visited Monkey Hill and ordered more signage and a review of security including requesting more walkie talkies for security personnel and more first aid points. It follows an incident on Sunday where a Russian as bitten on the lower arm causing him to bleed profusely.

A Russian tourist was severely bitten by a wild monkey on Toah Sae Hill on Sunday. A video of the incident went viral showing the man bleeding from his hand and being assisted by a local snack vendor in the area named as Somphian Kosaipruek.

The incident prompted a visit to the area by the Commander of the Tourist Police Major General Krissak Songmoonna on Monday.

Tourist police commander orders more signage

The police officer warned of the dangers posed by the monkey population to those inexperienced in dealing with them. He ordered that extra warnings be prepared to advise visitors about the threat.

‘For a solution, there must be more warnings. The existing signs are insufficient. There should be clear text and pictures about how to feed monkey properly and also warning signs telling people to not tease the monkeys,’ the police officer said. 

The police chief said that he had been informed that there were incidents of tourists being bitten by the monkey population in the area daily.

Questions about allowing monkeys to interact with the public – some believe they may pose a danger

This has prompted some observers to question whether something should be done about the numbers of monkeys and the wisdom of having them interact with tourists at all. 

One commentator on Wednesday warned that the monkeys are both unpredictable and dangerous pointing out that a severe bite to the neck or throat could cause a victim to bleed so profusely that they would die before reaching a local hospital.

Police officer acknowledged the popularity of monkeys among visiting tourists

On Monday, Major General Krissak acknowledged that the area was popular with tourists: ‘A lot of tourists come to Toh Sae Hill to see the view and the monkeys. Most accidents happen because tourists feed, play with and take photos with the monkeys,’ he pointed out.

‘For a solution, there must be more warnings. The existing signs are insufficient. There should be clear text and pictures about how to feed monkey properly and also warning signs telling people to not tease the monkeys,’ he concluded.

Proposed more first aid points and walkie talkies for security guards ordered by top police officer

Taking on board concerns about the dangers posed by the monkeys, the police officer said that his office would be contacting the civil administration about the need for more first aid points given the number of attacks.

Major General Krissak also said that he wanted to see security guards in the area equipped with walkie-talkies to coordinate the response to incidents when they occur.

Wildlife boss not sure what had provoked the monkey to bite the Russian visitor so aggressively

The Chief of the Nature and Wildlife Education Centre in Thalang Pongchart Chouehorm said that it was not obvious what had provoked the monkey to bite the Russian tourist.

He said that already signs and notices were on display in the area in four languages.

He also pointed out that new signs quoting ‘monkey rules’ show a change in policy from the previous guidance which was not to feed the wild creatures to now feeding them in designated areas and in a certain manner.

Already widespread use of signs on the hill

He added that there are also widespread signs advising tourists and visitors that the monkeys are dangerous and do bite. The message on the signs varies from one advising tourists not to ever take food back from a monkey to another which advises against directly touching monkeys while another warns never to poke or assault a monkey on any account.

The signs also bear graphic images of the injuries and diseases that may befall people who become victims of a monkey attack or bite.

Essential that those bitten seek medical attention

Mr Pongchart stressed the importance of having a bite cleaned and covered up as soon as possible and the need for medical attention in all situations.

‘Anyone bitten must stop the bleeding first and get to a hospital as fast as possible for first aid and to have the wound cleaned and for the doctor to determine if any treatment is required for rabies, tetanus or other diseases,’ he warned.

Popular attraction for tourists in Phuket

The macaques that live on the hill also pose a threat to the belongings of all visitors. 

In spite of all this, a visit to the hill continues to be of the most popular excursions for tourists visiting Phuket.

The top of the hill offers stunning views and it is a popular relaxation spot not only for tourists but for locals also.

The wild monkeys on the hill live in groups and are less aggressive than the temple monkeys who in recent years have become increasingly intrusive with visiting tourists driven in some part by overpopulation.

In general, the macaques on Phuket’s Monkey Hill will not approach humans except in designated feeding areas.

To many Thai people, the monkeys are bearers of good luck and the simian mammals are intricately linked with Thailand’s culture. 

Further reading:

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Thai government acts to deal with a coconut crisis as price of the crop has plunged sharply