Posted on: March 18, 2020 at 2:10 pm

It appears that humans aren’t the only species feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 global crisis. Animals are suffering too, and hunger has forced two of Thailand’s monkey kingdoms to viciously clash in the streets over food scarcity [1].  


The coronavirus pandemic plaguing nearly every country in the world is not merely affecting public health and activities. Many capital cities in the world are facing major economic decline since travel, public gatherings and even simple interactions are being discouraged. Global markets are being negatively affected and when you add up all the sports and tourist cancellations, the economic impact has the potential to be massive. All viral strains are dangerous, but the most lethal ones are those transmitted by air and close contact. Many countries are gradually going into full lockdown mode to contain the situation and hopefully lower the spread rate.

A shocking battle between rival monkey kingdoms in Lopburi, Bangkok, has left people wondering how far-reaching the effects of the virus actually are. Lopburi is a major tourist location in Thailand, known for its vast monkey populations, often called the “monkey-mad city.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, tourist activities have been at an all-time low, leaving the city in near sleep-mode. 


Normally, the two major groups of monkeys in the area clearly avoid each other’s territories. The temple monkeys depend heavily on tourists who visit the temple for a lot of their food, while the city monkeys seem to be doing fairly well without the need for tourists. The city monkeys are reputable skilled thieves, often stealing food from grocery shops and tourists.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the temple macaques couldn’t respect the boundaries anymore. 

Read: What does COVID-19 do to the body?

A fight like no other

In a video that has gone viral worldwide, dozens of monkeys could be seen swarming into the streets for a deadly brawl that left the locals amazed and terrified. Of course, people around immediately understood the source of the problem. Food had become a rare commodity since the virus broke out, badly affecting tourism in the area. The temple monkeys were starving and they had no other choice than to wade into enemy land in search of food. 


As expected, they received a brutal welcome. The monkeys fight occasionally, but locals are saying that a clash of this magnitude is the first of its kind in Lopburi. 

It’s the summer, so usually we see a lot of tourists, but now because of the outbreak there’s so few that the markets are very quiet. Not enough tourists come to leave food for the monkeys at Prang Sam Yod [temple],” Sasaluk Rattanachai, who posted a video of the brawl online, told Khaosod English.

Speaking to Thai Examiner 65-year-old Byo Um-in said: “I haven’t seen a fight like this for many years that I can’t remember. Normally, the fights involve five to ten monkeys.”

A local motorcyclist explained that the city monkeys’ territory was invaded by a hoard of temple monkeys, led by their vicious leader.  The temple monkeys could be seen in the video swarming into rival territory at high speeds. About thirty seconds in, the horrifying clash happened. City monkeys came from the opposite directions in a counter-attack that left many of the primates badly injured.

With at least 500 members in each troop, the meagre scraps of food scavenged from around couldn’t have served all the animals. The locals are scared that hunger could eventually drive the monkeys into doing worse things such as attacking people in the streets or breaking into homes and shops.

Eventually, the locals came to the rescue, treating the injured monkeys and laying out food in both territories to prevent further fights. 

Stifling an already struggling economy

As of Monday, March 16, the number of coronavirus cases in Thailand were reported to be 147, with an additional 51 suspected cases awaiting results [2].

According to The Star, 77 persons who traveled from Italy have been placed on a 14-day quarantine, with an additional 6 already showing symptoms hospitalized.

Thailand is a popular tourist location, receiving millions of visitors every year for its beautiful beaches and landscapes, wonderful cuisine, easy shopping, affordable lodging, rich history and culture, and friendly people. Tourism contributes about 9% to 17.7% of Thailand’s GDP, according to statistics from 2013 through 2016 [3]. The numbers are expected to face a deeper decline this year.

The government plans to shut down crowded venues such as schools, universities and dozens of tourist locations to control the spread of the virus. They also plan to postpone activities planned for the traditional Songkran New Year holiday coming up on April 13.

Keep Reading: Why Are People Hoarding Toilet Paper? Psychologists Have An Answer

  1. Rebecca Ratcliffe. Mass monkey brawl highlights coronavirus effect on Thailand tourism. The Guardian. Retrieved 16-03-2020
  2. Thai coronavirus cases up by 33 in country’s biggest daily jump. The Star. Retrieved 16-03-2020
  3. Tourism to continue growth spurt in 2017. Bangkok Post. Retrieved 16-03-2020
  4. Dr. Jockers. Coronavirus: Symptoms, Prevention & Natural Options. The Hearty Soul. Retrieved 16-03-2020
  5. Asaree Thaitrakulpanich. LOPBURI’S MONKEYS FOOD WAR BLAMED ON PLUNGE IN TOURISM. Khasod English. Retrieved 16-03-2020
  6. Carla Boonkong and Son Nguyen. Rival monkey Kingdoms fought a pitched battle in the Thai city of Lopburi on Wednesday morning. Thai Examiner. Retrieved 16-03-2020
Penelope Wilson
Team Writer
Penelope is a writer and health enthusiast with a B.Arts in Language Studies. She is a deeply spiritual person, a relationship expert, a nutrition freak, and a skin-care maverick.

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