Killing in the forest

Finding dead monkeys in the forest is a fairly common event. We estimate that on average 5 o5 6 monkeys are killed every month, most of them by traffic on the road outside. Newborn infants are also vulnerable and seeing a mother dragging her dead baby around is a distressing experience but one that we see quite frequently. Since the beginning of January there have been 3 confirmed deaths, one a mature female with no sign of any injury, a new-born infant that was possibly still-born, and a sub-adult male that unfortunately I found dying.

Here is how I found him:


The lower part of his rib cage was exposed and flies were already very active on his body. I thought at first that he was already dead and when I saw very slight movement of his abdomen I assumed that this was caused by flies or maggots. But then he made a small twitching movement in an attempt to brush off flies. I continued watching him and he opened his eyes and started to make an enormous effort to move. Eventually, he managed to take up this position:


At this point I left him for a few minutes in order to secure my bicycle and when I returned he had moved again:


Seeing his wound more fully there was no doubt that it had not been caused by another monkey but by a dog, and I recalled that on several recent days I had seen a pair of dogs hunting in the forest.

I decided to move him out of the sun and away from the very exposed spot where I found him. Now, on several occasions when I have attempted to move a dead monkey from the road, I have been very aggressively surrounded by many monkeys, to the point that I have always decided not to move the body until there were no other monkeys around.  There were ten or so monkeys within about 5 – 10 metres but when I lifted this little monkey not one of them showed  any interest at all. The injured monkey himself froze, or did not have the strength to struggle, and I carried him in this upright position and left him sitting in the shade on a pile of leaves beneath a bush. I hoped he was more comfortable there. When I saw him again a few hours later he was lying down, and by the next morning he has died in that same position. I wish I could have done more for him, but in reality I think I did all that was possible.



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Birth Control — Long-tailed Macaques in Phana

The first stage of the birth control programme for the long-tailed macaques in Phana took place at the end of August and beginning of September 2016. Stage two is likely to begin soon, so it is time that we look back on the initial stage.

The original idea was to perform vasectomies on about 100 adult males and sterilisation of a much smaller number of females. However, a total of 114 males underwent the operation but no females were sterilised although everyone agreed that female sterilisation was an important and necessary step to take. Two females were operated on in the sense that they were anaesthetised and opened, but the vets found that the operation as performed with the equipment they had available to them at that time would take too long, resulting in a need for longer under anaesthetic and a longer recovery time and overall a longer time away from their female-bonded families , all of which would be a traumatic for the monkeys involved, including those family members which would be missing one of their number.

Monkeys were accustomed to open capture cages for several days and they moved in and out to feed without much initial hesitation.


Male monkeys dominated the feeding groups inside the capture cages. When capture began, monkeys were moved in smaller transport cages to the operating centre based in rooms at the OPT Phana (Phana sub-district administration offices).


This was the base for the whole operation. There was a covered but open area for pre-op procedures, an operating room, a food storage area and a recovery area.


The pre-op area

The first step then was to administer the anaesthetic by injection, which was achieved by enticing the monkey to the side of the small cage and grabbing a leg.

dsc02814When the anaesthetic had taken full effect, the monkeys were tattooed on the face. dsc02760The position of the tattoo or tattoos on the face are coded. Here is the code they were working with. dsc02816 This monkey has two, one representing 10 and the other 1, so he was monkey number 11.

dsc02752bFinally, the monkeys were weighed and their information recorded.

dsc02752 This was the biggest monkey recorded.

The monkeys were moved to the operating room as vets became available to operate on them. Vets worked in pairs or small groups as not all of them had had previous experience, and there was a limit to the equipment available.

The monkeys’ heart rate was monitored throughout the operation, which took about 15 minutes.dsc02766

Monkeys were then moved to recovery cages to await their return to full consciousness.dsc02781

Most were returned the following day to the forest close to where they had been captured.

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Termite migration in Don Chao Poo Forest

There is plenty of evidence of termite activity in Don Chao Poo Forest. There are many termite mounds, new and active ones as well as inactive ones. There is also plenty of evidence that termites can and do destrof trees over a period of time. The termites in this short video have stripped their tree home of most of its bark and left the trunk covered in their trademark sandy deposit. Nevertheless, for the time being at least the tree continues to exist, if not thrive.

Termites on the Move

Video courtesy of Phana Monkey Project

Posted in Bio-diversity, Forest conservation & renewal, monkey forest, Phana Monkey Project, Termites, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


The birth-control procedures will be carried out by the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation, who will provide vets, cages, transport, and so on, but this year the people of Phana are funding the medical supplies (chiefly anaesthetics) by donation.

Most of the funds needed have already been raised, but if there is anyone out there who would like to donate (for example, 250 Thai Baht or £5 or $8 or multiples of those amounts), please contact us at the address below and we will explain further and give details about how to go about donating.

The Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation have been familiarising the monkeys to the trap cages for the last few days.These pictures show monkeys taking food from the open cages. They showed no fear or hesitation and adult males were first into the cages and consumed most of the food, as expected. Slightly unexpected was that they allowed a large number of juvenile monkeys in the cage with them.
The Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation have been familiarising the monkeys to the trap cages for the last few days.These pictures show monkeys taking food from the open cages. They showed no fear or hesitation and adult males were first into the cages and consumed most of the food, as expected. Slightly unexpected was that they allowed a large number of juvenile monkeys in the cage with them.
The birth-control procedures should start tomorrow or the day after. There is a new national initiative to control the long-tailed macaque population in Thailand and Phana has been chosen as the first place to put the new policy in action. There have been earlier, unco-ordinated birth-control programmes in cities such as Lopburi and Petchaburi. The plan for Phana is to ‘treat’ 100 monkeys this year, but permission has been granted for 500 monkeys to be ‘treated’ over the next 3 years.
Contact us here if you would like to donate.
Posted in Birth control, Forest conservation & renewal, Macaques, Phana Monkey Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting the monkeys


We have just completed our count of the Phana long-tailed macaques in preparation for the birth control operations that are due to take place next week. We  counted them in four locations as they prepared to go to sleep for the night. The newest group settles down near Ban Don Kwan, the others in the forest near the OPT offices, the pond and the viharn next to the main road. In total we counted 1,188 monkeys, in 6 different age & gender categories.




Phana Monkey Count  16 August 2016 – 25 August 2016

 Conducted by  Phana Monkey Project with assistance from students of Phanasuksa School. Count conducted from 18.15 – 18.45 after putting lines of uncooked rice in target area.

The totals were these:

Dominant adult males: 50         Young adult males:219

Nursing mothers: 204 + 206 infants (2 pairs of twins)

Other adult females: 165

Sub-adults (male & female): 216      Juveniles: 128

Juveniles were most likely under-counted, and it is also highly probable that up to 10% of the population was not feeding at the sleeping site when we were counting. So the real population is probably about 1,500.


Many thanks to the students from Phanasuksa School — we could not have done such an accurate count without them.

Posted in Birth control, Forest conservation & renewal, Long-tailed Macaques, monkey forest, Phana Monkey Project | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birth Control Planning

Birth control for the long-tailed macaques of Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana, has been discussed for several years. The local council has been reluctant to take up the matter, fearing that it would make them unpopular with local people — their electorate. But as the population has soared (almost doubling in four years), the reverse has been the case. Local residents are beginning to find their property raided by more and more monkeys.

In actual fact, these raids are quite limited in frequency and location, but there is little doubt that they will become more frquent and more widespread if the population is allowed to continue growing at its current rate.

So at the end of this month, a team of veterinary surgeons and their assistants will arrive in Phana to conduct vasectomy procedures on adult and some sub-adult males. It is hoped to target up to 100 monkeys. Those who have been successfully vasectomised will be marked so that they won’t be entrapped in future.

The veterinarians were in Phana recently for a meeting hosted by OPT Phana, a sub-district council whose head offices are adjacent to the forest.

In the photo below you will see most of those who participated in the meeting.

Back row, from left to right:

Dr Pathompong (Director, Phana District Hospital), Dr Visit (Dusit Zoo), Mr Prawat, Mr Kanok (Mayor, OPT Phana), Dr Vichit (Director of Wildlife Conservation, Dept of Natural Resources, Lower Isan) and Dr Supagorn (Forestry Dept).

Front row, left to right:

Mrs Pensri (Phana Monkey Project), Mrs Suksi (Phana Municipality) and Dr Bongkotmat (Wildlife Conservation, Ubon).


Later the group went to the hospital to consider whether to use one of their rooms to carry out the operations. Here they are discussing the relative merits of the room offered by the hospital and one they had already looked at in the OPT offices.


Phana Monkey Project has undertaken to advise on the best locations for trap cages based on the home range of the 4 large troops of macaques that share residence in Don Chao Poo Forest.

A further meeting has been held to plan  community cultural events that will precede the actual medical procedures. You will be able to read more about those events here nearer to the time.

Posted in Birth control, Forest conservation & renewal, Long-tailed Macaques, Macaca Fascicularis, Phana Monkey Project | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tree planting on mother’s day


360 trees of 10 different species were planted in Don Chao Poo Forest this morning. Today is a public holiday in Thailand — it is the Queen’s birthday and Mother’s Day is celebrated too.

About 30 people of all ages got together to plant the trees and when they had finished they had lunch and ice cream at a local restaurant.

Here are some of the trees waiting to be taken to the forest:




Loaded up and ready to go to the forest:


And here are some of the planters:

And a few of them enjoying their lunch:

It wil not be easy to monitor the new growth, but we will try to do so. We will be pleased if 50% survive.

Posted in Bio-diversity, Forest conservation & renewal, monkey forest, Plant Genetic Conservation Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment