BHOPAL: Conflict among humans for scarce water during summers isn’t new. But there seems to be a battle underway between groups of monkeys for water in the jungles of west-central Madhya Pradesh.
The death of at least 15 monkeys over the past five days in the Joshi Baba jungles of Punjapura forest range in Dewas district has prompted the forest department to begin a probe into all possible reasons, including a battle between rival groups of monkeys for water, as daytime temperatures touch the 45 degrees Celsius mark in the region.
“We’re probing all possibilities, including the possibility of conflict between groups of monkeys for water in the forest, as well as any contagious disease having caused the deaths of 15 monkeys from a 30-35-strong group of monkeys living in caves,” Dewas DFO PN Mishra said.
While nine monkeys were found dead in the caves and outside on Thursday, six more carcasses were found on Friday, when the DFO led a team to the spot, located 65 km from the district headquarters.
Autopsy by veterinary experts has revealed heat stroke as a possible cause of death, but the forest department is sending viscera samples to a lab in Sagar for further analysis to ascertain the possibility of any contagious disease having caused the deaths.
“There are around 5-6 groups of monkeys inhabiting that particular area of the forest, which has adequate water sources. But local inputs suggest that certain groups of monkeys which are large in number and dominate that part of the forest which is close to water sources could have scared away the smaller group of monkeys from the water bodies. The fear of getting attacked by the stronger group could have forced the smaller group to stay confined to their caves, unable to access water even when the temperature rose to 45 degrees. This might have seen them die due to heat stroke. This possibility is rare and strange, particularly as herbivores don’t indulge in such conflicts,” said Mishra.
Deers not affected
Deers are most sensitive to heat and water scarcity, but none among their population has died in the same jungles. The forest department has provided water near the caves inhabited the monkeys.