Monkey attacks injure 38 in Yamaguchi residential area

July 27, 2022

YAMAGUCHI — A series of monkey attacks in a residential area of ​​Yamaguchi City, particularly against children and elderly women, has left dozens injured and authorities are scrambling to find a solution.

During the period from July 8 to July 24 at noon, a total of 38 people were scratched or bitten by a monkey in the area near JR Shin-Yamaguchi Station. The Yamaguchi city government dispatched employees to patrol the area with nets, but they failed to capture the elusive animal, which can suddenly appear out of nowhere. The city has now decided to use tranquilizer guns.

According to the Yamaguchi prefectural police, the monkey seen was a Japanese macaque 40 to 50 centimeters in height. All incidents were concentrated within a radius of one kilometer and two-thirds of the 38 victims were either children aged 12 and under or women aged 60 and over.

Almost all of the initial attacks came after the monkey entered a house through an open window, but recently there have been more incidents outside.

On the morning of July 17, a 75-year-old woman living on the second floor of a building in the city was doing laundry on her balcony when a monkey suddenly grabbed her right leg. She shook the animal, but it went around her back and scratched her.

“I never imagined a monkey would come here,” the woman said. “I hope he will be taken quickly.”

The city sent more than a dozen employees to search for the simian and set traps in an attempt to capture it. And in almost all cases, when the public announces a sighting, the chance of capture is already lost by the time they arrive on the scene.

With signs that the monkey is becoming more violent, the city has turned to bird and animal control specialists to station themselves with tranquilizer guns in areas where the monkey often appears.

“We want to catch it as soon as possible,” said the head of the city’s agricultural policy department.

Similar monkey attacks occurred in the Wakamatsu district of Kitakyushu from August to October last year. According to the city’s bird and animal damage control department, 25 people were injured, mostly children and women, and the animal was not captured.

“It’s most likely a male ape who left his pride and found himself alone,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, 64, a curator at the Yamaguchi Museum and an expert in primate ecology. “He may have come to town by mistake and, perceiving children and women as weaker, began attacking them.”

Tanaka said the first step to capturing such a monkey is to gather more information about sightings and identify where it is most likely to appear.