For the past several weeks, the southern Japanese city of Yamaguchi has been under siege by a gang of wild macaques hell-bent on stealing babies and attacking women and the elderly.
The troop of marauding snow-monkeys has evaded capture while terrorizing residents and are thus far responsible for over 50 violent incidents that include break-ins and assaults in homes, schools and even a kindergarten. Most notably, however, have been the numerous attempts at kidnapping small children.
While snow monkeys are a common pest in parts of Japan, known for stealing food and destroying crops, Yamaguchi officials say the frequency of the attacks has been alarming.
"Initially, only children and women were attacked. Recently, elderly people and adult men have been targeted too."
“In terms of monkeys attacking people, we’ve never had incidents like this,” said Kosaku Matsunaga, an official at Yamaguchi city’s Agricultural Policy Division Pest Control Room. "While monkey sightings in Yamaguchi aren’t unheard of, attacks of this magnitude and frequency are."
An older, unrelated clip of Japanese snow monkeys being a pest to a passerby.
After the attacks began in early July, monkey traps and police patrols were implemented across Yamaguchi -- without any success.
A team of specialized monkey hunters, mobilized to counter the monkeys, was thought to have put an end to the saga with the capture of the gang's leader after the four-and-a-half-year-old macaque was caught hiding at a local high school. After being positively identified, the gang's leader was put to sleep -- and, residents hoped, the matter as a whole.
However, reports are coming in that a new leader has assumed control of the Yamaguchi monkey gang and attacks continue.