Hunt for wild monkey in Japan after 10 attacks in a fortnight

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The Guardian

Police in Japan are searching for a wild monkey that has attacked 10 people in the space of a fortnight.

The attacks began on 8 July in the Ogori district of Yamaguchi prefecture in the country’s south-west. In the most serious incident, it badly scratched an infant after invading a family home.

“I was vacuuming when I heard my child crying, so I turned around and saw the monkey had grabbed her by the legs while she was playing on the floor. It looked like it was trying to drag her outside,” the baby’s mother told local media.

Last weekend, the monkey opened the screen door of a first-floor apartment and scratched the leg of a four-year-old girl, leaving her with minor injuries, before attacking other people nearby, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The monkey, said to be 40-50cm in height, also invaded a local kindergarten classroom and scratched a four-year-old girl.

Local police are reportedly on high alert, and have set traps for the animal and warned people not to leave their windows open. The local mayor’s office has distributed flyers warning local residents to be on the lookout, but as of Tuesday, the animal was still on the loose.

The public broadcaster NHK said there had been about 40 monkey sightings in the area since May.

They are not the only wild animals that have forced people in Japan to be more vigilant. In recent years there have been multiple bear sightings and attacks across the country, along with a smaller number involving wild boar, including an incident last year in which two of the animals injured half a dozen people in a Hiroshima park before being shot dead.

The spate of bear sightings and attacks are being attributed to a shortage of acorns in the animal’s natural habitat, forcing them to wander into populated areas in search of food.

In depopulated rural areas, the degradation of abandoned farmland that once formed a natural boundary between their habitat and populated areas is also a factor.

In the northernmost main island of Hokkaido alone, the number of bear sightings rose to 2,197 last year, up 381 from the previous year while in 2020, a black bear spent more than 12 hours inside a shopping mall in Ishikawa prefecture before being shot dead by a local hunter.

July 19, 2022 at 12:15PM Justin McCurry in Tokyo

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