Japanese grandmothers create 'Monkey Busters' group to fight primates with airguns

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

In the Chubu region of Japan, and bordering the prefectures of Ishikawa, Gifu, Shiga and Kyoto, lies a relatively less-populous prefecture called Fukui. Located along the Sea of Japan coastline, Fukui Prefecture was once home to the powerful Matsudaira samurai clan, but these days it’s more famous for dinosaur fossils, papermaking, and specialties like seafood, soba, and koshihikari rice.

Oh, and a group of women who call themselves “Monkey Busters“.

This trio of primate-busting retirees made national headlines last week, after their plight to save crops against monkey damage was revealed by local newspaper Fukui Shimbun.

Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 10.34.47.png
Photo: @Zdz47X57Djfha0s

Masako Ishimura (74), Tatsuko Kinoshita (68), and Miyuki Ii (67), pictured in the photo above, live in rural Hikariishi Town and belong to the nearby Miyama district branch of the Japan Agricultural Cooperative. The three women formed the “Monkey Busters” group in May, after attending a class run by the Cooperative in March which showed locals how to repel monkeys.

The monkeys, which commonly appear in fields around Miyama in March and are often seen on the right bank of the Asuwa River, have been damaging onion, eggplant, soybean and potato crops in the area since 2015. With scarecrows and anti-animal netting proving to be ineffective at protecting the valuable crops, the three women decided to take matters into their own hands, banding together and arming themselves with airguns in order to scare off the monkeys.

Whenever anyone from the community reports a monkey sighting, it’s usually during the day when the women are in the middle of housework or farming. However, as soon as a sighting is reported, the Monkey Busters are immediately notified and drop everything to rush to the scene with their airguns, often arriving in their aprons as they don’t want to waste a minute in responding.

Once on the scene, the Monkey Busters fire a warning shot in the direction of the monkeys, and are often backed up by locals who use firecrackers and loud bellows to further frighten the primates. Occasionally, some locals even run after the monkeys with hoes to chase them away.

The local Cooperative says the monkeys originally gathered in a group of about 20, but they’ve since disbanded into about four or five groups, making them harder to ward off. The local group effort led by the Monkey Busters has proven to be effective, though, as the monkeys actually disappeared for a period of time. However, Ishimura says the animals started to reappear in the middle of July, so they won’t be resting on their laurels just yet.

“There are many elderly people living in the Miyama area, and the cultivation of fields is vital for their health and well-being,” says Ishimura. “It’s essential for the area to continue working together as one in the future.”

The diehard resolve of the Monkey Busters to protect not only local crops but local livelihoods has received a lot of praise from the community. And with the monkeys now said to be expanding their habitat into the nearby Ichijodani Asakura Family Historic Ruins, a historical site, and Daihonzan Eiheiji temple, the work of the Monkey Busters appears to have only just begun.

Source: Fukui Shimbun

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese snow monkeys find novel way to travel during winter 【Video】

-- Get ready for yuru-kyara car plates! Japan to lift ban on colourful regional license plates

-- Chinese monkey steals fruit, vegetables and…kittens?!

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

The idea of promoting the use of airguns to attack wildlife, particularly in the sense that just about anybody can do it, is distressing. Yes, monkeys are a nuisance, and licensed hunters and trappers are allowed to get them all year. But these people are trained and regulated.

Even though the women here "attended a class by the Cooperative" (any training?), touting the actions of these elder ladies suggests that its OK for anyone to do, so it will inevitably lead to copycats and fools who will just start popping off rounds at monkeys and other animals, not to mention people walking in the forest who are mistaken as such (every year people are shot and killed in Japan with actual guns by licensed hunters who mistaken humans for animals.)

5 ( +10 / -5 )

The idea of promoting the use of airguns to attack wildlife, particularly in the sense that just about anybody can do it, is distressing.

Um, they ARE airguns and this is your our supply we are talking about. Kind of important. If these were a group of kids running around an urban area shooting taking pot shots at kids an other people, it would be distressing, but his is out in the boonies and I doubt if the police could do anything to help protect the crops from monkeys. Farmers are also trying motion sensing noise makers among other things, but anything they try has to be random or the monkeys get used to it and ignore it.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I really doubt any of them could actually hit a monkey, monkeys aren’t dumb either they’ll soon catch on that these lame grandmothers can’t hit them.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Look, good on them for trying something, and the picture really is catchy!

A lot of these local farmers are struggling with wildlife destroying their crops and there aren't enough licenced individuals around with real firearms to cope with the demand.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

This seems like a reckless escalation in what could potentially develop into an all out Simian-Sapien territorial conflict.

With the sapiens pursuing armament we will likely see the Simians resort to improvised weaponry in the form of long range IEDs (Improvised explosive doodoos) This could prove devastating for the local civilian population.

Perhaps a 2nd tract strategy of appeasement and non-lethal deterrence in the form of bananas and grumpy cats might prevent the precarious situation from developing into an intractable turf war.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

 I doubt if the police could do anything to help protect the crops from monkeys. Farmers are also trying motion sensing noise makers among other things, but anything they try has to be random or the monkeys get used to it and ignore it.

Why would an airgun be OK even in the "boonies"? Humans still live there, so accidents can easily happen (they may even unintentionally shoot eachother, ask Dick Cheney).

And shooting at an animal with an airgun witout a license is actually illegal (though these ladies supposedly just shoot in the air to scare them.) Same with a crossbow.

A toy cap gun would be much louder, safer, and with no projectile to harm anyone by accident. Also fully legal and available for a few hundred yen, unlike mama's mean looking M-16 airgun that probably goes for several mahn..

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I bet the other two now want an M16 for Christmas.

Do airguns make enough noise to scare an animal if you miss? Wouldn't bashing two saucepans together be more effective?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm a bit surprised they allow airguns like that one that looks like an M-16 in Japan. I bet if I waved it around everyone but the monkeys would run away.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Those two photos are quite arresting!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Go monkeys.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I presume these are plastic pellet BB guns rather than air guns that shoot lead pellets.

A lead shot air gun will break the skin, whereas a plastic pellet will just sting a bit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These things are a serious nuisance and need to be culled. Macaques, I mean, not old women.

Culling monkeys? Seriously?

To me this is a bit like demanding planes stop flying when houses are built around an existing airport. The monkeys were there before humans... get used to them and accept some loss. Think about how the monkeys feel about the humans loitering in their territories.

I've seen the monkeys at Kappabashi nicking things off cafe tables... THAT was eye opening... but culling them? No, totally against that. I agree with the cap guns... harmless and loud

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Considering that macaques are matriarchal with a dominant female on top of their social order it is highly appropos that human dominant females would lead the fight against the macaques!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Shooting into the air, ha. Who's going to pick up the pellets? Those environmental predators will take years to biodegrade and kill countless Japanese five-lined skinks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

geronimo2006Aug. 31  09:27 am JST I'm a bit surprised they allow airguns like that one that looks like an M-16 in Japan.

Replica airguns are a huge business in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Very hot peppers on the veggies might make them less interesting for the average monkey.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These monkeys are not going away unless their food sources dry up. Love the granny monkey buster squad but someone is going to get a pellet in the eye. Build cages throw food in them and capture some of those monkeys. They may wise up but you're going to get a bunch before they figure it out. Also get hunters and dogs and pay them 20,000 yen for every monkey they bag. They are stealing these people's food, money and efforts. Stealing is stealing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites