Monkeys Attack Children and Elderly in Yamaguchi

Courtesy of Penny (Pixabay CC0)

A group of monkeys terrorized a local population attacking at least 58 people in recent weeks, clawing and biting at flesh, and attempting to snatch babies from nursery schools in Yamaguchi, Japan. The primates eluded a team of tranquilizer-armed hunters from the Yamaguchi City Hall. The monkeys do not seem interested in food. Instead, their focus is on children and the elderly.

Masato Saito, a city official, said that monkeys are intelligent and frequently ambush people from behind, grabbing at their legs. Saito recommends that when confronted by a monkey, people should keep their eyes down and then retreat as quietly as possible without making sudden moves.

A team of crack snipers has been sent to the secluded village to trap and kill a group of marauding monkeys. The primates are Japanese macaques, a species frequently pictured bathing in hot springs. One monkey measuring 49 centimeters (1.6 meters) tall and weighing 15 pounds (7 kilograms) was captured Wednesday using a tranquilizer gun. Officials determined it to be one of the marauding primates, and it was executed.

Conservation efforts after World War II inadvertently caused macaque populations to thrive in Japan. This has resulted in increased human-macaque conflict due to the invasion of the primates’ habitat. Primate expert Hiroto Enari cites this as an example of how conservation efforts can be counterproductive.

Professor Enari, an academic at Yamagata University specializing in wildlife management, said Yamaguchi monkey assaults are particularly dramatic. Notably, if humans give them a lot of opportunities to learn, they may cause even more problems, he said. Every assault gave monkeys a chance to study how to be a menace — removing roof tiles or harassing dumps, for example. Enari believes that the greatest threat is that the primates may spread hepatitis B or other diseases to humans.

Courtesy of paranoidnotandroid (Flickr CC0)

Monkeys: Macaques Species

Macaques species live across the islands of Japan except for northern Hokkaido. They are brown-grey, red-faced, red-bottomed, and short-tailed. Monkeys were long present in fields and villages in Japan, but their habitat was destroyed by urbanization, which has resulted in their limited presence in mountainous regions.

Monkeys are prominent in Japanese religion, folklore, art, proverbs, and idiomatic expressions throughout history. Their cultural meaning has changed over time. Monkeys were initially mediators between gods and humans in 8th-century historical accounts. By the 13th century, they were associated with tricksters and dislikable people.

Human-Macaque Conflicts

Human-macaque conflicts are not new to Asia: There are countless native monkey species and billions of people. Rhesus monkeys in India are related to the Hindu deity Shiva. Municipal authorities in New Delhi must balance the need to avoid backlash from the populace in their efforts to eradicate them.

Before President Barack Obama’s 2015 visit, men armed with slingshots tried to scare off the primates while wailing and barking. Lopburi, Thailand, has been besieged by crab-eating macaques for years. They became more aggressive after a sudden reduction in tourist provision of food. In Singapore, the National Parks Board has offered to assist in controlling the monkey invasion by guarding the compound and chasing the monkeys toward the forested areas.

Even though killing monkeys is restricted in Japan, Professor Enari said that about 25,000 primates are killed annually. Nonetheless, the population is still increasing around the country, according to surveys. One reason for this development, according to Professor Enari, is that monkeys are moving into shrinking rural communities, according to Professor Enari.

The authorities in Yamaguchi have authorized agents to shoot to kill this week after some traps set for monkeys failed.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


Associated Press: Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys; by Yuri Kageyama
The Washington Post: Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys; by Yuri Kageyama
The New York Times: A Marauding Monkey Was Killed in Japan. Others Will Take Its Place; by Hisako Ueno and Mike Ives

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Penny’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of paranoidnotandroid’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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