Phuket tackles illegal encroachment and monkey menace on Monkey Hill

Phuket Vice Governor Adul Chuthong yesterday convened a high-profile meeting to address the escalating issue of illegal encroachment on Khao Toh Sae, also known as Monkey Hill, in Phuket Town. Also on the agenda was the rising threat of macaque attacks on tourists and residents, a problem that has been increasing in frequency and severity.

The meeting took place in the historic Provincial Hall, now used as the offices of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO). It featured key figures from various government bodies, including the Phuket Damrongdhama Center (Provincial Ombudsman’s Office) and Phuket forestry officials. The gathering was convened in response to numerous complaints lodged at the Damrongdhama Center concerning the aforementioned issues.

During the meeting, resolutions were made to tackle the problem head-on. The Phuket Forestry Office was tasked with notifying vendors that their commercial activities within the protected forest zones are strictly proscribed. Stores operating in the area were ordered to be swiftly dismantled, with the government designating alternative selling locations, according to an official report of the meeting.

To enforce these new measures, an operational team will be deployed in the Khao Toh Sae region. This team will consist of personnel from the Phuket Forestry Office, Region 8 Police, the Phuket branch of the Internal Security Operations Command (the political arm of the Thai military), the PPAO, and additional officers. They are scheduled to begin their mission to rid the area of illegal vendors on February 1, with a focus on maintaining order and safety.

Last year, to prevent further encroachment, the remaining 300 rai of protected forest land on Khao Toh Sae was fenced off. Leading the initiative is the Phuket Damrongdhama Center, which will station a guard post at the bottom of the road up the hill. This post will serve as a checkpoint for locals and tourists alike. Signs guiding acceptable behaviour, warnings, and area restrictions will be placed every 500 metres. The guard post will be manned by five officers for an initial period of one month.

Illegal vendors operating on the protected forest land will be given notice to vacate the premises. Those failing to comply will face legal repercussions, as per the official report.

Future disturbances

In addition to the encroachment issue, the Khao Phra Thaeo Nature and Wildlife Study Center has been given the responsibility of addressing the macaque problem in the area. They will work with relevant agencies to develop feeding strategies that will prevent future disturbances.

The PPAO, in partnership with Phuket City Municipality and Ratsada Municipality, is tasked with maintaining cleanliness in the area. As part of a broader initiative to improve the Khao Toh Sae area, the PPAO has proposed ambitious development plans. These include the installation of a tram system for tourists and residents, employing additional security personnel, and implementing measures to promote cleanliness, convenience, beauty, and safety in the region.

These initiatives are aimed at enhancing the tourist experience and promoting the positive image of the popular hill and its viewpoint, reported Phuket News.

Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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