CHANDIGARH: As lockdown keeps millions of people in their homes and social distancing measures meant to slow the spread of coronavirus have brought clear skies, quiet streets and tranquil shores, animals are timidly pushing their boundaries towards human habitats.
However, animals such as monkeys which have become habituated to humans especially for food are having a bad time. Himachal capital Shimla has a different story to tell about the semians. The tourist town, which was facing a monkey menace, is now witnessing a reverse situation. The animals, which were a menace at the famous Hanuman temple at Jakhu in Shimla, have also left the shrine.
The unruly raiders there have now shifted their base back to the forests as their food source has depleted, officials said.
Talking with this correspondent, Dr Savita, Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Wild Life), Himachal Pradesh, said: "Due to the nationwide lockdown, the monkeys in Chamba, Kangra and Manali are now going back to the forests as they are not getting street-food waste to survive."
"There were some 2,000 monkeys in Shimla alone and they were in groups of 30 to 35. The groups have become half in size now as most of them have gone back to forests. Moreover, there were sightings of leopards in Shimla twice a month. But that too has stopped due to the same reason." she says.
She said that the lockdown has been good for the monkeys and hoped that they might not return back.
She said as pernthe the latest census carried out in December last year, the monkey population in the state was 1.37 lakh, a decrease from the previous figure of 2.7 lakh. It was due to the consistent efforts of the state government to sterilize them, Dr Savita added.
In 2016, a notification was issued to declare monkeys are vermin. That allowed forest authorities and people to cull monkeys but it was not effective.