A member of the “macaque gang” executed in Japan

A Japanese macaque that was harassing several residents of the town of Yamaguchi was recently euthanized by a mandated team. For several weeks, attacks have been increasing in the city. More than fifty people were reportedly injured.

For nearly a month, a group of Japanese macaques (macaca fuscata) terrorizes the city of Yamaguchi, in the west of the country, by biting and scratching the population. Initially, the primates initially only attacked women and children. In one incident, a specimen allegedly broke into a kindergarten classroom before jumping on a four-year-old girl. Since then, the children of this school no longer go outside. In another incident, another of these macaques had climbed out of a window and tried to grab a baby.

For several days, they have also been targeting men and the elderly. According to the Guardian, some residents have also started arming themselves with umbrellas and pruning shears to protect themselves.

To date, nearly fifty people have been injured. Most of these injuries are only scratches, but the increase in attacks has prompted local authorities to form a team to take down several of these individuals.

After several days of tracking, one of these macaques was finally euthanized after being hit by a tranquilizer dart. animal, a four year old malehad been involved in at least one such attack recorded in July.

Video capture of a monkey strolling past a house in Yamaguchi. Credit: AP

Increasingly frequent conflicts

Classified as one of least concern by the IUCN Red List, this species had came close to extinction at the end of the 19th century. At the time, nearly half of Japan’s forests, where the macaques reside, had been destroyed by deforestation. These animals were also hunted to protect crops.

After World War II, Japan finally banned macaque hunting. Since then, the populations have continued to increase. Moreover, the two natural predators of macaques, the mountain eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis) and the Japanese wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax), are endangered and extinct, respectively. As a result, conflicts between humans and macaques multiply.

The demographic evolution of Japan could also contribute to the increase of these conflicts. Over the past fifty years, the Japanese have indeed moved away from rural areas in order to settle in the city. Some deserted villages would then have allowed macaques to settle in numbers. Since then, some groups have also ventured into medium-sized towns to feed. Without these rural areas, which once served as a buffer, city dwellers therefore come into contact with wildlife more often.

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