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WATCH: Member of infamous Macaque monkey gang caught and killed after assaulting locals in Japan

Japanese macaques are common in large parts of the country and some areas are considered a pest, eating crops and sometimes entering homes. Picture: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

Japanese macaques are common in large parts of the country and some areas are considered a pest, eating crops and sometimes entering homes. Picture: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

Published Aug 1, 2022

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Japanese officials told local media that a member of a gang of monkeys that has terrorised residents of a Japanese city for weeks had been caught and killed. The Japanese macaques have injured almost 50 people in Yamaguchi, a city southwest of Tokyo.

Located within the grounds of a high school last Tuesday evening by specially commissioned hunters, the large male primate was tranquilised and later put down after being identified as one of the animals responsible for the attacks.

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Authorities have been hunting the monkeys since the attacks began on adults and children about three weeks ago. Most injuries have been mild scratches and bites.

Incidents are still being reported, and the search continues for other members of the gang, an official at the local agricultural department told AFP.

"Eyewitnesses describe monkeys of different sizes, and even after the capture, we've been getting reports of new attacks," he said.

The captured monkey was estimated to be four years old, and was about half a metre tall.

Japanese macaques are common in large parts of the country, and in some areas, are considered a pest, eating crops and sometimes entering homes.

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However, the attacks in Yamaguchi are unusual. A city official told local media before the capture that it was "rare to see this many attacks in a short period of time".

"Initially, only children and women were attacked," they said, adding that. Recently, elderly people and adult men have been targeted too.

Earlier efforts to capture the animals with traps failed, and police patrols set up in early July have been unsuccessful until now.

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Reports include a four-year-old girl scratched after a monkey broke into her apartment and one animal entering a kindergarten classroom.

Once a vulnerable species, Japanese macaques have recently seen a population boom.

This has led to "serious conflicts" with people, according to research from Yamagata University.

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Changes in human behaviour and forest environments may be one cause.

According to Monkey World, the Japanese Macaque is also called the Snow Monkey and belongs to the Old World species of monkeys which do not have long, prehensile arms.

Two subspecies have been identified. They had a vital role in the early Buddhist religion. This continues today throughout the works of this particular religion.

The Japanese Macaques live in very large groups and have a complicated hierarchy with many more females than males. There are smaller subgroups within the larger one to help with organisation. However, the males often move around and are loosely part of many different subgroups. The young inherit the mother’s social status on the ladder.

They are known to bathe with each other as part of their socialisation. It is believed that the various groups create their own lingo too, which can be varied from other groups of the same monkeys in other areas.

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