Thousands of monkeys terrorise Thai town

An army of marauding monkeys in a Thai town are forcing businesses to shut and tourists and shoppers to flee.

The town of Lopburi, around 90 miles north of the capital Bangkok, is well-known for its monkey population which brings tourists from around the world.

But the town which had a bustling local economy is now in danger of becoming a ghost town as 3,500 simian monkeys have taken over.

The town's monkeys are well loved - locals even hold an annual festival to honour them, but now companies and small businesses have shut their shops and tourists stay away.

Surachat Chanprasit, a representative from Pingya Shopping Centre, said monkeys frequently swarmed the establishment and harassed the customers who came to shop.

They also damaged store fronts, forcing owners to shell out for repair works and hastening their exit from there.

The mischievous monkeys have become such a problem that the local shopping centre was put up for sale two years ago but the mall is still on the market and its price tag has been slashed.

The shopping centre was originally up for sale for 100 million baht (£2.2million) but has been reduced to 70 million baht (£1.55million).

In an attempt to encourage businesses to stay, the shopping arcade also cut rents for business to help shop owners cope with the blow to their profits but the town is still struggling to recover.

'Previously, a Chinese investor had visited the area to check the feasibility of an investment,' Surachat said.

'However, when the investor realised that the problem of monkey population threatening the heart of the city had not been solved, he postponed the investment indefinitely.'

Lopburi's monkeys, which have a total lack of fear for humans, means they exhibit extremely bold behaviour, clambering across the windshields of moving vehicles and jumping all over bystanders in the street.

Locals say there are even rival gangs that mark their territory - resulting in clashes when the animals meet.

Government officials have tried to control the wild monkey population in recent years but have been unable to curb the numbers as the animals continue to multiply.

Large numbers of monkeys were sterilised in 2020 as part of a government programme after their numbers spiralled out of control during the pandemic.

Wildlife department officers lured the animals into cages with fruit and take them to a clinic where they were anaesthetised, sterilised and left with a tattoo to mark their neutering - but the authorities simply can't keep up.