Monday, 28 Sep 2020

Grannies calling themselves ‘monkey busters’ chase away primate pests with guns

Three grannies armed with air pistols have branded themselves "monkey busters" in a bid to scare off pesky crop-raiding macaques.

The women from Keiishi Town, in Fukui City, Japan, formed the crack team earlier this year and have readied themselves to strike whenever they see the mischievous primates up to no good.

Local media reports the grannies will drop their housework and gardening rush to the scene in their aprons to ward off the critters with air guns.

The three amigos are Masako Ishimura, 74, Tatsuko Kinoshita, 68, and Miyuki Ii, 67, whose mission is to protect the "precious vegetables grown by the villagers".

Monkeys have become increasing boisterous after first appearing in the Miyama district around 2015, local media reports.

One particularly destructive macaque appears by the bank of the Asuwa River to scope out the goods before raiding crops such as potatoes and onions.

And where scarecrows and anti-animal nets have proven ineffective the grannies are determined to step up to the plate.

The local authorities in the area started to teach methods to fight off the animals and the three grannies formed The Busters in May.

The key methods is to ambush the monkeys on all sides, with the women told to drive the scared animals away by threatening to shoot.

Firecrackers are also deployed, as well as the grannies sometimes brandishing hoes.

And the tactic appears to have worked – at least for now.

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Speaking last month Mrs Ishimura's husband said the monkeys disappeared for a time but started showing up again in the middle of July.

"There are many elderly people in the Miyama area, and the cultivation of fields is essential for health and vitality," he said.

"In the future, it is necessary for the area to work together as one to continue to deal with them."

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When monkeys first appeared in Miyama there were only around 20 in families of four or five each.

But the little population has grown in confidence with the opportunist pests even invading ancient landmarks such as the Asakura remains of Ichijodani and Eiheiji Temple of Omotoyama.

Elsewhere in Japan, macaques are used as a form of entertainment.

They are even known to be dressed in little playsuits and made to entertain children by challenging them to games of air hockey at the Nikko Saru Gundan – a monkey entertainment complex in Nikko City.

Meanwhile at a bar in Utsunomiya, two hours north of Tokyo, macaques are made to serve ice-cold beers and hand out warm towels to cheering punters.

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