What does Delhi do when faced with mischievous monkeys on a romp? String together an army of langurs, pit simian against simian and hope for the best. The world, meanwhile, looks on aghast. Such is the indignation at this absurd theatre being played out in the city that international wildlife activists have offered financial and technical help to find a "permanent, scientific solution".
The International Primate Protection League, a non-governmental organisation from the US and the UK, has approached Delhi-based NGO Vatavaran with an offer to provide initial funding to a project that ensures the problem of urban monkeys gets a lasting solution.
In an offer to the NGO, the IPPL has pointed out that the problem here needs to be tackled with non-governmental initiatives. But the activists are amazed at the lack of funds and initiative on a problem that has rocked the capital, from the corridors of power to residential colonies. "It is difficult to understand why funds cannot be raised in India. There are many wealthy people and a tradition of respect for monkeys. The problems are readily apparent and the need for a humane solution should be easy to demonstrate." The plan is to scientifically trap monkeys, treat them and then release them in forest areas congenial for their survival. For that, Vatavaran will map forest areas through GIS.
But the langurs do drive the monkey menace away, don't they? Fumes environmental activist Dr Iqbal Malik of Vatavaran. "Using langurs to drive away monkeys has made the Indian authorities a laughingstock in the international wildlife activist community."
But the image-problem aside, the langurs do not address the real issue, say experts. According to the latest study by Vatavaran, 70 per cent of Delhi's monkeys now live in urban areas and not in forests like the Ridge.
The problem in Delhi, Dr Malik said, has proliferated horizontally as well. Until a few years ago, groups of monkeys would be spotted in areas closer to the Ridge like Rajendra Nagar, Vasant Kunj and the likes. "But now, for instance, Patparjanj in east Delhi faces this unique problem. While the shrinking green cover in Delhi drives monkey away from the Ridge, langurs drive them to parts of the city where they never ventured before," Dr Malik said.