People in one southwestern Japanese town are being attacked by monkeys who are trying to grab children, biting into and clawing their flesh, and slipping in at kindergartens.
The attacks – affecting 58 people since July 8 – are getting so bad, the Yamaguchi City Hall has hired a special unit to track down the animals using tasers. The monkeys are uninterested in food, so trapping has not worked.
They mostly targeted children and elderly people. They are very clever, and tend to come in quietly from behind, and they will grab you by your legs a lot, said Masato Saito, the town manager, on Wednesday.
Two-thirds of 38 victims were children, ages 12 or younger, or women, 60 and older, the police said.
When faced with the animals, Saito said, instructions were: Do not stare into their eyes, make yourself appear as large as possible, for example, by opening a jacket, and then walk backwards as silently as possible, making no sudden movements.
One woman was attacked by a monkey when she was hanging her laundry out on the porch. Another victim showed her toes wrapped in bandages. They were taken aback and scared at how large and obese the monkeys were.
The monkeys that were terrorizing the community were Japanese macaques, a species that is usually depicted as peacefully lounging in a hot spring.
One of the monkeys, who is about 1.6 feet tall and weighs 15 pounds, was captured by the group with tranquilizer guns on Tuesday. It was determined through a variety of tests to be one of the attacked monkeys, and was killed. But there were multiple attacks reported following its capture.
So far, nobody has been seriously injured. But they are all advised to seek treatment at the hospital. In some cases, ambulances are being called.
Although industrialized and urbanized, Japan has large amounts of land that is mountains and forests throughout its archipelago.
Rare attacks against humans have occurred from a bear, pig, or other wild animal, but usually not from monkeys. No one seems to know why attacks occur, and it remains unclear exactly from where a contingent of monkeys came. I have never seen anything like it in my whole life, Saito said.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys – The Associated Press
- Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys trying to snatch babies – The Times Of Israel
- Monkey attacks: Japan’s Yamaguchi city thought they had a rogue macaque. Now they fear there’s more than one – CNN