The Forestry Administration and the Apsara National Authority (ANA) have collaborated to relocate several particularly aggressive long-tailed macaques from the Angkor Archaeological Park to protect tourists and the temples.
However, some videos of the monkeys being caged and taken away were posted on YouTube by people who accused the authorities of acting “immorally”, treating the monkeys in an inhumane manner and even killing them.
An email sent to The Post claimed the animals that were removed included adult males, juveniles and “about seven nursing female mothers who left behind three-month-old babies to suffer an agonising death of starvation and vicious attacks”.
“The removal of the males leaves the entire troop defenceless and destroys bloodlines,” the email said.
A video posted on YouTube late last month showed monkeys being put into cages by men wielding metal rods. The video was captioned with unverified claims of blood on the floor of a cage and that one of the macaques had been killed.
Another video featuring still images and captions claimed that the ANA took a total of 40 adult and juvenile macaques “to be slaughtered”.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal on Sunday strenuously denied that any macaques had been culled. He said only the most troublesome animals had been removed.
“We removed some macaques from the Angkor Wat area because they were too vicious and caused problems for tourists and the roofs of the temples. But none of them was tortured or killed.
“The crazy videos published on YouTube are mostly created for financial gain or to get people to click ‘like’ and share them.
“Regarding this case, our authorities are searching for the identity behind those YouTube accounts to question them to take legal action,” he said.
Several comments below the videos expressed dismay at the way the macaques were removed but many supported the authorities’ actions and pointed out that there was a dispute as to what had taken place.
Kosal said: “There are thousands of macaques in the Angkor Wat area. The more mild-mannered ones can help to attract tourists to the temples because they are generally well-loved and very photogenic.
“But vicious and aggressive ones pose a risk to humans. They carry diseases and can easily bite or scratch people.”
Preap Socheat, a specialist from the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Takeo province’s Bati district who took part in the removal of the macaques at the Angkor Archaeological Park, told The Post on Sunday that more than 20 of them were relocated.
“They have been released into the forest near Tnort Chum commune’s Prey Khla village, in Pursat province’s Krakor district. We only removed the most active and mean macaques that were causing issues for tourists and the temples.
“Most of the macaques live in the areas around Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Baksei Chamkrong temples and near the Tonle Om river.
In a separate incident on Saturday, police officers and rangers from Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary arrested a man for illegal wildlife trafficking.
Sanctuary director Prom Vibolratanak told The Post that the 34-year-old suspect was detained by technical officials in Sre Khtum commune’s Chhneng village, in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, after police discovered 13 birds in a Lexus RX330.
“This man is a long-term suspect who we’ve been tracking down for some time. Now, police officers are questioning the suspect to gather a case to send to the court. The 13 birds have been released into the natural forest,” he said.