Forest rangers have been attempting to drive troupes of monkeys (stump-tailed macaques) back to Son Tra Nature Reserve in the central city of Da Nang.
Vice Director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Viet Phuong said a group of 30 monkeys that used to gather by Linh Ung Pagoda seeking food from visitors have been on the move since social distancing orders were implemented from April 1.
Phuong said no tourists meant no food for the monkeys, so they would be forced to return to their natural habitat to forage for themselves.
Recent research on the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 passing from humans to monkeys found there was a chance if the two were in close contact.
Tran Huu Vy, a biodiversity conservationist, said in order to stop the monkeys gathering at tourism sites, it was necessary to stop feeding them.
Last year, the city warned tourists not to feed animals at the Linh Ung Pagoda, Son Tra Temple and Intercontinental Da Nang Resort.
The monkeys were getting used to taking candy, snacks and fruit from visitors. Several conflicts have occurred since last year.
A baby monkey was grabbed by a local man at the Linh Ung Pagoda, while two other monkeys were killed by household dogs at farms in the Son Tra Reserve.
An older monkey was also hit by a car at the foot of Son Tra Mountain.
The 4,439ha reserve is a safe habitat for the red-shanked douc langur (Pygathryx nemaeus), an endangered primate species listed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.