At least 19 macaque monkeys have been found dead on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, due to what authorities believe to be a mass poisoning.
Two more dead monkeys were discovered today in Rayong province’s Klaeng district — adding to a tally of 17 initially found on Wednesday.
A herbicides packet, watermelons with monkey bite marks, and bullet shells were discovered in the area where the macaques were found — leading authorities to suspect animal cruelty, reported Workpoint.
Only one 3-month-old macaque made it out alive — thanks to aid provided by locals. The sole survivor is now under the care of Wild Animal Hospital 57 in Chonburi’s Sriracha district.
Community chief Sathit Kleawkla said there are usually 200-300 monkeys living in the area.
Though these harmless creatures usually avoid humans and primarily look for food in the jungle, the dry weather has caused a lack of resources, pushing the monkeys to venture closer to local’s farmland in their hunt for food.
Sathit suspects the monkeys may have taken to dining on the crops they found, leading frustrated farmers to lace the watermelons with herbicides.
Authorities are currently conducting post-mortem autopsies on two of the monkeys’ bodies to confirm the cause of death, while the watermelon remains have been sent to a lab for examination, said Pol. Col. Chaiyaphong Saengphongchai, director of Klaeng Police station.
Under the 2014 Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act, animal cruelty is punishable with up to two years prison or a fine up to THB40,000 (about US$1,600.)