Gone wild: 10 towns that have been overrun by animals

Being able to see animals in the wild is a major staple of tourism, from safaris to dolphin cruises. But when those animals take over towns and villages, it's not quite so cute. And there are places around the world where locals have to live with creatures they'd rather stayed in the bush…

Lopburi

Where? Thailand

About two hours north of Bangkok, Lopburi is famed for its Khmer temple, Prang Sam Yot. Except virtually no-one calls it Prang Sam Yot. To allcomers, this it the notorious Monkey Temple. Hordes of macaques rampage through the ruins, often climbing on visitors and trying to steal cameras. The macaques don't confine themselves to the temple, either. They can be found around town in disturbing numbers, clambering over buildings and street lamps.

See also: 'We live in a cage': Hungry monkey mobs rule tourist-starved Thai town

St Lucia

D32GG8 Hippopotamus grazing at night in garden in St. Lucia Alamy image for Traveller. Single use only. Fee applies.
David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: Alamy

Where? South Africa

St Lucia was built on the edge of Africa's largest estuary system. The iSimangaliso wetlands are also home to South Africa's largest hippo population. By day, they stay by the water or in the shade. By night, they come looking for food, and St Lucia happens to provide the richest pickings. Hence the bizarre sight of hippos plodding through the town's streets, and sometimes munching grass in residents' gardens.

Narcisse

KD02EG Red-sided Garter snakes emerging from wintering den during annual mating ritual, Narcisse Snake Dens, Narcisse, Manitoba, Canada. Alamy image for Traveller. Single use only. Fee applies.
David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: Alamy

Where? Canada

Narcisse is more or less a ghost town, but once a year it comes to life as tens of thousands of snakes emerge from their underground pits to mate. The landscape, with a tin topsoil and several sinkholes is ideal for the red-sided garter snakes. They're mercifully harmless to humans, who flock to viewing platforms around Narcisse every spring. The mating bonanza goes on for ten days.

Al Baaha

The hamadryas baboon is a species of baboon from the Old World monkey family. It is the northernmost of all the baboons, being native to the Horn of Africa and the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.
David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: iStock

Where? Saudi Arabia

Baboon troops are notorious in Africa for being anything but shy. But in the southern Saudi town of Al Baaha, they've gone one step further. News reports have told of the aggressively confident baboons attacking people in the streets and rampaging through a school. Residents have reported seeing up to 100 baboons in a troop, attempting to take cars to pieces.

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Malataj

DFTMXF mugger or marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) rescue Alamy image for Traveller. Single use only. Fee applies.
David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

A mugger crocodile being rescued from a drain. Photo: Alamy

Where? India

The Charotaj area of Gujarat is home to a phenomenal concentration of mugger crocodiles. And locals in towns such as Malataj have given up trying to avoid the crocs.The muggers are often found ambling through riverside fields, and local people regularly bathe and wash clothes in the ponds where the crocs hang out. Man and beast seem to have a wary understanding of each other.

Canmore

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David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

The cute bunnies of Canmore. Photo: iStock

Where? Canada

The Rocky Mountain town of Canmore has spent more than a decade arguing about what to do with the rabbits running amok. The massive rabbit population is thought to stem from domestic pets released into the wild, but those free bunnies did what rabbits are notorious for doing. Now the town argues every year over whether to let thousands of rabbits roam, or attempt to destroy them as they might attract cougars.

Grafton

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David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: iStock

Where? New Hampshire, USA

In the early 2000s, a group of obsessive libertarians from around the US converged on Grafton, New Hampshire. They quickly outnumbered the locals, and took over the council, stripping budgets, taxation and regulation as their political mantra dictated. It ended up as a free-for-all, with many living in tents in the woods and – crucially – everyone disposing of their waste wherever it landed. This attracted black bears, and the bears were essentially rewarded with more food the more bold and aggressive they got. Oops.

Nara

Where? Japan

The deer that live in the sprawling Nara Park are regarded as sacred in the Shinto religion – they're supposedly the helpers of the gods. But lack of culling means there are thousands of them, roaming free and being fed special 'deer crackers' by tourists. Alas, when the tourists disappear, such as during a global pandemic, the deer spread further afield looking for food. Hence the last year has seen many more deer in Nara's streets. Take a look at Nara's deer in the video above.

See also: The Japanese city where the deer roam free

Coffin Bay

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David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: Getty Images

Where? South Australia

Coffin Bay is most famous for its oysters, but the emus certainly aren't shy about stating their case if you visit. Large numbers of emus live in the neighbouring Coffin Bay National Park, but they're brassy enough to branch out of the national park, ambling along Coffin Bay's beaches, pavements and roads. There's also a very good chance of seeing kangaroos in the mix.

Pasadena

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David Whitley Traveller 10 towns overrun by animals tra23-online-animals

Photo: Getty Images

Where? California, USA

When urban sprawl pushed out other species in suburban Los Angeles, the peacocks took to the trees, and bred for generations. They did so in such numbers that they're now roaming the streets, pecking at cars, ripping up gardens and giving unwelcome early alarm calls that some residents have likened to "a baby being tortured". The local authorities are now looking at passing a law banning the feeding of the peacocks.

See also: Australia's abandoned zoo home to our most infamous extinction

See also: Meet the Aussie behind the world's funniest wildlife photo

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