CrimeNorthern Thailand

2 monkeys dead as police catch smugglers red-handed

PHOTO: Two men were nabbed as they tried to catch monkeys to sell abroad. (via Thai PBS World)

We’re not going to make a “monkey business” pun, but there’s big business in smuggling monkeys. Two men were apprehended attempting to catch long-tailed macaques and were expecting to receive up to 100,000 baht per monkey.

Police arrested the two men at the Wat Khao No tourist attraction in Nakhon Sawan. A 23 year old man and a 37 year old man were taken into custody on Thursday after they were caught trying to use tranquilliser darts to catch the monkeys.

They were caught with nine monkeys in captivity with them – five that were drowsy and subdued, and four more that were fully unconscious.

The suspects admitted to the authorities that they were planning to sell the macaques to restaurants in neighbouring countries. In some countries nearby Thailand, monkeys are often eaten as a delicacy.

They were caught with hunting equipment such as a net, darts, and even food that was laced with a tranquilising agent. But they claimed to only be middlemen, hired to catch the monkeys for an unknown smuggler. They were to be met by a pickup truck that would take the monkeys and pay them.

Wat Khao No, known for its long-tail macaque population, has become a hot spot for smugglers looking to profit from the illegal trade in animals. Often, parents are taken away, leaving the babies to starve to death.

A local that sells food for visitors to feed to the monkeys said that the number of macaques has declined dramatically in recent years due to smugglers catching and selling the creatures.

Another resident said that in the past, the mountain area was home to upwards of 100,000 macaques, but smugglers have caused a huge drop, leaving fewer than 10,000 monkeys still in the area.

The story gets even worse, unfortunately. While authorities caught them in the act and were able to rescue nine macaques, not all survived. Seven of them were moved to a shelter near Wat Khao No and then released back into the wild on Friday.

One of the monkeys suffered too much from the tranquilliser and died. Another met a gruesome fate as a cage was left open and the drugged monkey was attacked and killed by a dog.

The illegal capture of the monkeys has angered many in the area, with the two suspects greeted by furious locals upon their return to the scene of the crime. Just last week in Loei province, men claiming to be government officials have been collecting monkeys who are disappearing in large numbers without a trace.

2 monkeys dead as police catch smugglers red-handed | News by Thaiger

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.