Agra monkeys have the last laughFebruary 10th, 2009 - 11:02 am ICT by IANS
Agra, Feb 10 (IANS) There is unlikely to be any let up in Agra’s monkey business any time soon.
The plan of local authorities to banish 7,000 monkeys from the city of the Taj Mahal has backfired. Residents and tourists will still have to run the gauntlet of the aggressive monkeys that scare everyone here, and have even led to three deaths in recent times.
Last week, Agra Municipal Corporation chief Anand Bardhan had announced that the monkeys would be transported to Chitrakoot, which is around 550 km away though in the same state of Uttar Pradesh, with the help of local NGOs.
But the forest department in Chitrakoot has now said no. It has reportedly said it has enough monkeys of its own, and more will create problems.
Local wildlife experts say many of the monkeys here carry the tuberculosis germ. They are often seen eating from garbage dumps. They attack people carrying food, and scratches and bites left by them often turn septic. All three deaths took place as panicked victims fell from terraces in their effort to escape the monkeys.
The officials are now planning to raise resources to develop a monkey rescue centre here on the lines of the bear rescue centre at Keitham in Agra district.
Local resident Mukesh Jain, who last year had financed dispatch of more than 1,000 monkeys from Agra to forests in the Chambal ravines nearby, said a permanent solution would have to be worked out as nobody seemed interested in offering hospitality to these monkeys.
“Very soon we will have a contest to get designs for new cages where monkeys can be kept and fed. The Yamuna riverbank can accommodate dozens of such big cages. A team of volunteers will look after the monkeys. The devouts can feed them there,” Jain said. Monkeys are considered holy by many Hindus.
At a meeting with the NGO Wild Life SOS, the municipal authorities also decided to sterilise the female monkeys to restrict the population. “But this will be a costly affair, for which funds would need to be raised,” an official said after the meeting, which took place Sunday.
The simian nuisance is likely to become a poll issue. Most residents do not agree with the official estimate that there are 7,000 monkeys in the city, placing the figure closer to 25,000. The city electorate will seek a commitment from candidates to find a permanent solution, said green activist Ravi Singh.
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: chambal ravines, chitrakoot, costly affair, female monkeys, forest department, garbage dumps, gauntlet, germ, hindus, jain, last laugh, local authorities, monkey business, municipal authorities, permanent solution, riverbank, taj mahal, terraces, wild life, wildlife experts