Monkeys treat biopark's water lily garden as buffet(スイレン食害『困ったモンだ』 土湯・照南湖ビオパーク)

Japanese monkeys eat water lily stalks lakeside at Shonanko biopark in Tsuchiyu Onsen-machi, Fukushima City.(スイレンの葉の柄を食べるニホンザル=福島市土湯温泉町・照南湖ビオパーク)

 Water lilies in the Shonanko biopark in Tsuchiyu Onsen-machi, Fukushima city, have suffered serious damage at the hands of a troop of Japanese monkeys that has appeared at the lakeside. The monkeys remove water lilies from their stems and eat the leaves and other parts.
 The Tsuchiyu Onsen Tourism Association said that damage to the plants from the monkeys has been observed since last year. It took measures to chase them out, but to little practical effect so far.


 According to the tourism association and other entities, there are up to about 50 monkeys in the troop and they are often seen stretching their arms out from the lakeside or even wading into the lake to take the leaves of water lilies that have begun to bloom.


 The lake is located along a former route of National Highway Route 115. What is now the lake had been a Fukushima prefectural-run skating rink until about 50 years ago. The tourism association and other organizations made efforts to improve the lakeside such as by planting young water lily plants there. In recent years, the plants have produced flowers with brilliant colors, including red, pink, white and yellow. The lake has become a popular spot for photographers.


 Although the association set off fireworks to try to drive the monkeys away, they soon reappear, and the association has not found a way to solve this, it said.


 Monkeys come out one after another when people depart from near the lake, and then reach out to pluck the leaves and stems together, sometimes eating them from the stem side, rather than the leaf side.
 Most of the damage is seen mainly in the area near the shore, but since some of the monkeys venture into the water, even the water lilies in the central parts of the lake are not safe.


 Kazuya Ikeda, 60, secretary general of the association, said: "Considering the scenic beauty, we cannot take steps to put up electric wires, which are used to keep boars away. All we can do is periodically shoot off fireworks."

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2018年5月24日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】