‘Gangster Monkeys’ a Menace, Neighbors Say

A roving band of what one municipal official has dubbed “gangster monkeys” has been swiping laundry, biting students and eluding police across Daun Penh district in Phnom Penh.

Pich Socheata, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said Monday that she will seek approval from City Hall to launch a campaign to capture unruly, violent wild monkeys.

“We have to collect the nasty monkeys from the city. Otherwise they will disturb visitors and people living in the neighborhood,” she said. “I have seen some monkeys grab glue bags from street kids and then they climbed up trees and sniffed it up. That’s why some monkeys become violent and attack people.”

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk­tema, however, dismissed the notion that any of the macaques, which he said are largely peaceful animals and popular with tourists, have been sniffing glue. “No, there are no monkeys sniffing glue. Some become violent because of sexual motivations,” he said.

Pich Socheata estimated that more than 200 wild monkeys con­gre­gate in trees around Wat Phnom, the Ministry of Commerce and the French school Lycee Rene Descartes. Following recent complaints of monkey attacks on members of the public, the Daun Penh district au­thority has seized 15 macaques.

“We contacted the Cambodian authorities to tell them that the monkeys were in the vicinity of the school and were affecting the safety of the students,” said Claude Abily, French Embassy spokeswoman. “There have been several instances of students who have been bitten.”

John Daigle, spokesman for the US Embassy, housed across from Wat Phnom, said the embassy has not contacted district officials about the monkeys.

At Lycee Rene Descartes, an ad­min­istrator, who said school policy prevented her from giving her name, confirmed that a few students had been bitten by monkeys coming on school grounds because of a fig tree, which has since been cut down for that reason.

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