City of apes needs pied pipers

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has a monkey on its back: it’s not been unable to control the primate population in the city.

Published: 13th August 2017 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2017 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has a monkey on its back: it’s not been unable to control the primate population in the city. With no sterilisation on cards, catching them is the only option the civic agencies have. But for that one needs catchers.

The last batch of monkey catchers that the corporations hired was during the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Since 2014, the corporation has given nine public notices inviting people who have the knowledge of monkey catching, but in vain.

On special occasions or when dignitaries are visiting, the agencies deploy their own administrative staff and put nets in place. That is exactly what the agency is doing ahead of the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort.

The civic agencies have even been regularly writing to states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, seeking monkey catchers or at least people skilled in training the MCD staff, but to no avail.

The civic agencies have filed a petition in Delhi High Court that monkey catching should be given to the state’s Department of Forest and Wildlife. “Although no monkey survey has been conducted, estimated figures of relocated animals to the 4,000-acre Asola-Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary here is around 19,000,” said A K Shukla, Chief Wildlife Warden.

Officials say this is only an average calculation based on a few pockets. After these monkeys are released in the sanctuary, nothing prevents them from fleeing. All it takes are a couple of leaps—literally.
Civic officials also blame animal lovers and the people’s behaviour regarding feeding the monkeys. Thanks to people feeding monkeys, the animals have gotten used to living in residential areas. They keep coming back from the sanctuary and the circle goes on.

“Many times people have registered complaints with the police regarding animal cruelty against our staff. We keep getting calls for letting loose caught monkeys because the rest of his family is left behind. How can we catch an entire troop?” asked an official.

This stops monkey catchers to come forward.        

The lackadaisical attitude of the civic agencies and the Delhi government has also affected the drive. According to officials of the Department of Forest and Wildlife, the huge cost of feeding the monkeys is a big problem.

Shukla said the forest department gets a daily supply of 200 quintal of fruits for the sanctuary, which is insufficient.

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