Japanese macaque monkeys

Japanese City Alarmed by Monkeys Trying to Snatch Babies, Clawing at Flesh

In what looks to be a scene straight out of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, people in the Japanese city of Yamaguchi are falling prey to monkey bites. There are reports of as many as 42 people falling victim to Japanese macaque monkeys’ clawing. Now, while monkeys are pretty common in this city- the incident is not. One city official did respond, “It’s rare to see this many attacks in a short period of time. At first, the monkeys only attacked children and women. Recently, though, the monkeys have begun targeting elderly people and adult men too.

Unfortunately, any attempt made by the police to catch these animals has resulted in failure. In fact, most authorities don’t know if the attacker was a single monkey- or a whole host. The injuries suffered have also been quite varied. Some victims have received scratches and bitten legs, while others have suffered bitten necks.[1] 

Interestingly, the Japanese monkeys don’t seem too interested in food. This has rendered all the traps obsolete. They have, on the other hand, targeted mostly children and the elderly. Masato Saito, a city official, did state, “They are so smart, and they tend to sneak up and attack from behind, often grabbing at your legs.” The situation has been so severe, that civic authorities had to launch instruction guides for citizens. They say you should avoid eye contact as much as possible as well as try to appear bigger. Saito has also asked the citizens to back away as slowly as possible. 

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Japanese Macaques Have Been Attacking Humans At Yamaguchi

This doesn’t, in any way, imply that the authorities in the city have been sitting idly. One of the Japanese macaques was caught recently. It measured 49 centimeters in height, and also weight 7 kgs. The monkey was caught by a tranquilizer gun, and after being judged for its actions, it was put to death. And yet, the attacks didn’t stop. While no one has been injured seriously so far, everyone has been advised to visit the hospital. In certain cases, people also had to take recourse to ambulances.[2] 

Although Japan is quite an industrialized city, a large part of it is covered by forests. While people have been known to be attacked by bears and boars, Japanese monkey attacks are uncommon. No one has any idea as to why the attacks began in the first place. Also, they have no clue where the hordes came from. Saito stated, “I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”[3]

What to do When You See a Monkey?

Fortunately, officials have been responding to the reports of the monkey incidents as quickly as possible. They have also established search parties in places. An official at the local agricultural department reported about the establishment of a number of on-ground law enforcement units. The official also mentioned, “Eyewitnesses describe monkeys of different sizes, and even after the capture, we’ve been getting reports of new attacks.” While it is not rare for the Japanese monkeys to be a pest when it comes to crops, there are hardly any reports ever of them being so indiscriminately hostile to humans. 

In general efforts to catch these monkeys has failed- ever since the attacks began in the first part of the month. However, licensed hunters managed to catch and kill one male member of the group inside a high school. The hunters believe the dead monkey was around 4 years old. The whole incident has definitely heightened the paranoia in the city, with several citizens opting to lock their doors and windows in fear. There have been reports of monkey attacks- even on a four-year-old girl who was scratched. This took place after a monkey broke into her residence. In another report, one also entered a kindergarten classroom- leading to mass panic.[4] 

While the Japanese macaque monkeys were a vulnerable species at a point in time, things have changed. They have recently enjoyed an increase in population. And according to the researchers at Yamagata University, this could be a reason behind the attacks. The growth in the population has led to severe conflicts between man and the wild. Another reason could be the change in forest environments and the behavioral pattern of humans. 

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  1. Japanese City Alarmed by Biting, Clawing Monkeys Attacking Children and the Elderly.” NBC Chicago. Yuri Kageyama. July 27, 2022.
  2. Japan’s police to take measures after wild monkey rampages.” BBC. July 2022.
  3. Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys.” AP News. Yuri Kageyama. July 27, 2022
  4. Japan monkeys: Member of gang terrorising locals caught and killed.” BBC. Elsa Maishman. July 27, 2022.