A city in Southwestern Japan is currently under siege by a large band of violent macaque monkeys. And officials can’t figure out why.
“I have never seen anything like this in my entire life,” city official Masato Saito said Wednesday.
The attacks began in Yamaguchi on July 8th, according to The Associative Press. And so far, the monkeys have injured 58 people. The animals have been targeting the young and the elderly. On a few occasions, they’ve even attempted to kidnap babies and sneak into nursery schools.
The problem has gotten so out of hand that the Yamaguchi city hall had to employ a unit of specialists to patrol the streets with tranquilizer guns. The workers have been tasked with locating the most aggressive animals and then putting them to death.
Surprisingly, there seems to be no cause for the attacks. Initially, officials believed that the monkeys needed food. So in an attempt to capture the offenders, they set traps with bait. But the animals have been uninterested in the meals.
“They are so smart, and they tend to sneak up and attack from behind, often grabbing at your legs,” Saito said.
Victims also posed no threat to the animals prior to the attacks. For example, one woman was injured while simply hanging laundry outdoors.
Victims Have No Reported Any Serious Injuries
People who have seen the perpetrators have also noted that they’re larger than most macaques. Officials recently captured a male that measured 1.6 feet tall and weighed 15 lbs. After being deemed one of the attackers, vets euthanized the animal.
Luckily, no one has been seriously injured. But in a few cases, ambulances were called to the scene. And the city has instructed all victims to go to the hospital if they were bitten or scratched.
Until now, monkey attacks were relatively uncommon in Japan. And specialists are trying to locate the group’s home in the country’s mountain and forest regions.
In the meantime, Masato Saito has given specific instructions to all who encounter the violent monkeys in the city.
“Do not look them in the eye,” he said. “Make yourself look as big as possible, such as by spreading open your coat, then back away as quietly as possible without making sudden moves.”
Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, are usually a peaceful species. And they’re famous for bathing in hot springs during the winter. Most troops included 20 to 30 animals. However, groups can sometimes exceed 100 monkeys.
The animals were on the endangered species list until recently. But now, the International Union for Conservation of Nature believes the population has completely rebounded.