Present for the release of the monkeys were Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, Vice governor Wongsakorn Nunchukan and Natural Resources and Environment Phuket office Chief Watthanapong Suksai.
Pongchart Chouehorm, Chief of the the Nature and Wildlife Education Centre at Khao Phra Thaew, who is overseeing the ongoing mass sterilisation campaign, explained that 195 monkeys – 94 females and 101 males – were caught by traps set at Khao Phra Thaew and Khao Toh Sae hill in Phuket Town over three days from last Sunday through Tuesday (Sept 19-21).
The monkeys were sterilised at the Nature and Wildlife Education Centre by wildlife officers and veterinarians from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).
“This mass sterilisation is a project by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Office [PPAO, or OrBorJor] in order to reduce the number of wild monkeys and to protect local people and tourists from problems that could made by monkeys and communicable disease from monkeys to humans,” he said.
The vague explanation follows a Russian tourist suffering a serious monkey bite at Khao Toh Sae late last year, and signs being posted in 2018 at key sites were tourists and local residents interact with wild monkeys, warning people of to “Beware monkey attack” and to not feed wild monkeys or tease them with food.
“We expect to sterilise up to 500 monkeys from the areas in Phuket, including Khao Rang, Khao Toh Sae, Koh Siray, Soi Tha Jeen, Soi Kingkaew, Baan Yamu, and Baan Bang Rong.” Mr Pongchart said yesterday.
However, with hundreds of monkeys already sterilised in previous mass-sterilisation campaigns – including two whole troupes of monkeys being relocated to the uninhabited islands of Koh Thanan and Koh Payu, both off Phuket’s east coast – officials have yet to explain why so many monkeys still need to be sterilised in campaigns occurring so frequently.