Residents at Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach have raised concerns as to the possible effect on tourism following the relocation of “dozens” of macaque monkeys last week, with one tourism chief expressing regret over the move.
Locals and tourists said the sight of monkeys playing in trees near the beach has become a thing of the past, with one resident of Sihanoukville’s Commune 4, 45-year-old Chham Savuth, saying dozens of monkeys had been relocated.
“Last week, a group of people came to the area and caught dozens of monkeys. They were shot with tranquiliser guns. But they did not tell [the public] the reason for taking the monkeys away,” he said.
Oeur Vibol, the tourism office chief at the provincial tourism department in charge of coastal areas, expressed regret at the removal of the macaques.
“We very much regret that the monkeys were taken to another area … In the tourism industry monkeys are considered part of the tourism product. Their behaviour attracts many tourists to see them and take pictures,” he said.
Nen Chamroeun, the provincial director of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, on Tuesday issued a statement regarding the disappearance of the primates.
“Experts from Phnom Tamao Zoological Park came and took some monkeys away to maintain [road] safety and public order. The monkeys were released in a safe sanctuary in the Veal forestry community in Pursat province,” the statement said.
Chamroeun did not say how many monkeys were removed from the area. However, Preap Socheat, an expert from the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre who led the monkey removal team, told The Post on Wednesday that 30 had been relocated.
“We only took monkeys that were wild because they caused too much trouble for locals, tourists and young children. They were safely released in a protected area in the Veal forest community in Pursat province,” he said.
Socheat said the move followed a request from the owner of the Independence Beach Hotel, who claimed the monkeys disturbed his guests and destroyed hotel property.