Fed up with the damage done to their farms by monkeys, farmers in Himachal Pradesh have taken to guns to fight the menace.
Monkeys here often invade their farmlands and destroy crops. With all attempts to stop them proving fruitful, there is now a virtual shoot-at-sight order against monkeys invading fields. A few villagers of Nauradhar tehsil of Sirmour district have sought licenses from the wildlife department to rid themselves of the menace.
A team of shooters and a few experts from the wildlife wing of the forest department recently spread out into the fields to hunt down monkeys. The operation started after a resolution by 10 panchayats in Sangrah Block to start killing the monkeys on an “experimental basis”.
“We never wanted to kill monkeys. But we have been forced to do so as they have started destroying fields in the area. Moreover, there is has been initiative from the forest department to help us. The people had urged the department to employ shooters, but the department expressed its inability. So the farmers have decided to do the killing themselves, under the supervision of the forest department,” said the president of the Kisan Sabha in Sirmour.
Some also blame the forest department for their woes, saying that the department transported huge numbers of monkeys from Shimla to different parts of the state and spread the menace. “Had the forest department worked out a comprehensive policy to handle the monkey menace through scientific management on time, we would not have become part of this sin of killing the animals,” said some residents of Nauradhar.
“Himachal Pradesh had a provision for killing monkeys for the past 12 years. Under this, farmers have to take the prior permission of the forest department. But not many are aware it,” said Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Vinay Tondon. He had held a meeting with the villagers and forest officials a few days ago at Nauradhar.
According to reports, about half a dozen monkeys have been so far.