At least five cases of monkey bites are reported in the Capital every day.
More than 1,900 cases of monkey bites were reported in 2015, an increase of over 400 bites over the previous year, the Lok Sabha was informed.
The civic agencies are largely responsible for relocating monkeys in their areas. A total of 408 monkeys were relocated in the last financial year, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, minister of state for home Affairs, told the Lok Sabha.
Municipal officials say animal lovers are the biggest hindrance in keeping a check on the simian population. “We catch monkeys one or two at a time, although the animal NGOs insist monkeys be caught in ‘troops’, which is next to impossible. This results in a relatively lower rate of monkeys being caught,” said an official.
The officials said catching monkeys was not the primary task of the municipal corporation. “Catching and relocating monkeys is the forest department’s job, although the high court in 2007 had asked the municipal corporations to keep a check on their population since we had similar system in place for canines,” said an official.
He said monkeys don’t fall in the municipal corporation’s list of animals to be kept in check. The corporations plan to file an affidavit in the high court, requesting the task to be handed over to the forest department.
“Our staff is not trained to catch monkeys but we still do the job. After relocating them, the forest department has to ensure food supplies to the monkeys,” said the official.
Monkey menace is a common problem in the city as monkey bites can cause rabies, which can lead to death. Monkeys are known to even steal food from people’s houses and attack them.
In one such incident, Delhi’s deputy mayor SS Bajwa had fallen from his terrace and died in 2007 after coming under attack from a group of monkeys.
Animal activist and wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan said that while monkey bites have been a result of unscientific capturing and relocation of monkeys, the lack of natural habitat plays a crucial role in them being aggressive.
“From jumping and swinging from trees, the monkeys are left to swing from wires and cables. Their natural habitat has been destroyed fully. Also the capturing also leads to them being furious,” he says.
He said monkeys in Delhi are of the Rhesus macaque species which is known to be a little aggressive and travel in group. When one of them is captured, it is almost like kidnapping to them.
“This results in them being violent and increases the number of bites. What the corporations need to do here is adopt a humane sterilisation program, to curb down their growth and insinuate a scientific method of trapping,” said Satyanarayan.