The Aggressive Monkeys of Nikko

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    The tourists who come to Nikko love to take photos of monkeys, but as this exciting FTV news report shows, the monkeys are wild animals that are not meant to live in such close contact with humans:

    There really isn’t much that needs translating in this report: it’s just a collection of footage showing monkeys attacking people, grabbing food from the hands of tourists, shoplifting, and doing other aggressive or shocking things. Here are a couple interesting points, though:

    • Tourists love to watch the monkeys causing mayhem.
    • Some shopkeepers have resigned themselves to the daily visits of monkey thieves, and have placed the cheapest fruit (bananas) in a location where it is easier to steal. Better that than allow the monkeys to steal expensive fruit.
    • It is unhealthy for the monkeys to feast on junk food, and some of them have become quite fat and their teeth are far more rotten-looking than the average wild monkey.
    • Ten years ago, a local law was passed banning the feeding of wild monkeys in Nikko. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have achieved much. Monkeys are still able to steal food, and monkeys that were born and raised near humans are far more brave when it comes to grabbing food out of the hands of a tourist.
    • Back in 2002, the New York Times ran an article about the clashes between wild monkeys and humans in Japan. It contained some pretty interesting statistics, which probably haven’t changed too much in the last eight years. It appears we are facing a monkey invasion, and unless we do something to stop them, we will be overrun:

      Monkeys are spreading across Japan, a tidy, cement-trimmed nation more commonly associated with bullet trains than wildlife. From a scraggly postwar population of 15,000, the number of monkeys has increased tenfold in half a century, reaching 150,000 today. In contrast, Japan’s human population, loath to reproduce, is expected to drop by half this century, to 65 million.

      ”If people just let the monkeys reproduce themselves, Japan would be the archipelago of the monkeys in 2200,” said Kunio Watanabe, a professor of primate sociology at Kyoto University. ”But I don’t think that Japanese are that patient.”

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