Govt steps in to check monkey population

Indian monkeyThe common Indian monkey has stepped out in huge numbers from the wilderness to urban settings

Tubectomy, vasectomy and oral contraceptives are the answers to the monkey population leading to human-animal conflict in urban settings in India, the National Primate Centre, California and the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have concluded.

Encouraged by this, and the success of the monkey sterilisation programme in Himachal Pradesh, the government has decided to scale up measures to check monkey population in urban areas.

Uttarakhand — another state facing the simian problem— is soon expected to begin sterilisation of monkeys as a pilot project, officials confirmed.The Rhesus Macaque or the common Indian monkey has stepped out in huge numbers from the wilderness to urban settings, and the human-monkey conflict has turned intense in several parts of the country.

With state after state complaining about monkeys getting aggressive, the Central Zoo Authority stepped into the picture earlier this year inking an MoU with the California centre, an expert on simian behaviour, to find ways to address the problem.

The California Centre, it is learnt, advised oral contraceptives, fed through food, as one of the most effective ways to control monkey population. They have monitored the use of oral contraceptives in monkeys in a few other countries.

"It has been agreed that the pilot project will start from Uttarakhand and depending on its success we will scale it up in other states battling monkey menace. There will be a combination of approaches though the focus will be on controlling breeding of monkeys. While monkeys that can be captured are proposed to be sterilized, oral contraceptives mixed in food are being considered for roaming troops of monkeys," Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, B S Bonal told The Indian Express.

WII is keenly examining feasibility of delivering oral contraceptives to monkeys and tracking them for booster doses. "The California centre's recommendation to use oral contraceptives is interesting but we have sought more clarity on operational issues, how it can be effectively used in a non-zoo like setting for monkeys roaming in groups in cities.

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