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Lucknow: Tough to cope with marauding monkeys

Out of control: The cheeky animals strut about the city, invading kitchens, destroying gardens and tearing clothes.Their population is increasing rapidly but a permanent solution is still awaited

lucknow Updated: Oct 05, 2017 16:43 IST
HT Correspondent
The recent spate of attacks by rampaging monkeys in the city is a cause of worry for the residents, so much so that the forest department’s Indira Nagar control room gets calls every day.
The recent spate of attacks by rampaging monkeys in the city is a cause of worry for the residents, so much so that the forest department’s Indira Nagar control room gets calls every day.(HT Photo)

An apex institute, some local residents and the Northern Railways here have one thing in common: they all either deploy a tamed langoor or use its voice to scare away aggressive monkeys.

The recent spate of attacks by rampaging monkeys in the city is a cause of worry for the residents, so much so that the forest department’s Indira Nagar control room gets calls every day.

“There isn’t a day without calls. Be it Indira Nagar, Aliganj, Gomti Nagar, Mahanagar or any other area, marauding monkeys have been harassing people everywhere,” said Ayodhya Prasad, senior forest officer of Lucknow division.

In fact, the largest number of complaints at the cell pertains to monkeys and snakes and the least to crocodiles.

“Monkeys uproot flowers, eat petals and roots and leave behind mud, broken pot and ravaged plants,” said Kamal, a gardening enthusiast.

The aggressive beasts also raid kitchens and snatch food. They scatter the litter on the balcony or the roof before leaving. “The worst thing is that they tear clothes hanging outside,” said Rashmi, a resident of Vinay Khand. “Monkey population is increasing and so they are troubling residents for food as they do not find it elsewhere,” she said.

The issue of existence

Monkeys, experts say, have a tendency to coexist with humans since ages. They are classified as wild animals but their existence has been close to humans. One may find them on trees eating fruits but as there are hardly any fruit-bearing trees left, they mostly wander about in search of food. Entering kitchens is a habit as the leader in the pack knows this is the place where humans keep food.

The solution

What frequently happens is this: a call goes to the forest department. The staff arrives and catches the monkey(s). The animals caught have to be released somewhere else so that they might not trouble humans. There are three big forest spots for this, the nearest being Kukrail forest area. The other two are Sarojininagar and Mohanlalganj forest areas.

As these areas also have human population just outside the forest pocket, hence the simians frequent houses in Kukrail, Sarojininagar and Mohanlalganj forest areas. They reach nearby villages and if they do not get food enough for the entire pack, they travel long distances to open fridges in buildings.

“The situation is such that if we leave monkeys in a particular forest area once, we cannot do the same next time. If we go again with a dozen monkeys there will be at least 50 villagers from the nearby village to stop us from doing so, the reason being that these monkeys invade their homes once we leave them there,” said Ayodhya Prasad.

Monkeys can reproduce every six months, hence their population grows rapidly. So the size of their pack grows from just four or five in the first year to over a dozen in the next .

The history of monkey catching

Till 10 years ago, catching monkeys was the job of the municipal corporation . Once a communication between forest department and municipal corporation on finding a solution to the problem concluded that since monkeys were wild animals, hence municipal corporation should not interfere.

The then Lucknow Zoo director Eva Sharma was entrusted the task of getting monkeys out of residential areas where they were creating a nuisance. . There was a separate budget for this work as it required hiring professionals, because no one in the forest department was trained to catch monkeys.

Now there is no budget for this work and if it is required to hire a private professional, the forest department manages funds from some other head .

At times, even complaints to the forest department do not yield results , particularly if it is a holiday. Hence residents themselves pay the professionals for catching and leaving monkeys away from their locality.

Not just monkeys

It is not just monkeys troubling people but even stray dogs and cattle, which make commuting difficult. Statistically about 30 lakh residents in the state capital live with about 60,000 stray dogs roaming on the streets. The LMC’s complaint cell receives around 75 complaints per week regarding stray canines .

Stray cattle on roads disrupt traffic movement as their owners abandon them on the roads when they are of no use .

LANGOOR ON GUARD AT SGPGI

Lucknow: Known to have the state’s best doctors, the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) has a staff langoor too, to scare away monkeys.

Monkeys make a mess on the 500 acre campus, particularly in the hospital wing. Patients often complain that monkeys trouble them while they commute from the main gate to the OPD building or even from the parking area to the main building.

While doctors here get over Rs one lakh as monthly pay, the langoor gets about 40,000. Some people have complained that monkeys enter through the ducts of ACs or reach the wards by breaking false ceilings and take away edibles . Often they cut wires and even fiddle with oxygen pipes.

If the sources are to be believed, the monkeys cause heavy loss to SGPGIMS every year.

An attendant, whose relative was admitted to the Critical Care Unit said, “It was a horrible experience to see a monkey entering the ward where all patients are serious. I too was shocked like the other attendants.”

People are scared to leave their edibles in the open even for a minute. The monkeys here have become so bold that they even come inside the wards unchallenged by damaging the to duct area. But with a langoor as guard, there is some relief. It is said that at the very sight or smell of langoors ensures that the monkeys keep away.

“There are some monkeys here, but they have never been a threat to anyone,” said medical superintendent SGPGIMS Dr Hemchandra.

“We have asked professionals for their advice about handling the monkeys. They told us that wherever there are langoors, the monkeys do not stay there. So, we decided to hire a langoor ,” he said .

“We are also mulling over the idea of hiring monkey catchers to end the menace. There has been no case of monkey bite but still we have to be cautious,” he said.

Read: Stray animal menace continues to haunt Lucknow

However, other staff members say that monkeys keep on destroying ducts and wires, causing loss of lakhs .

SOUND EFFECT COMES HANDY AT STATION

Lucknow: On a visit to Charbagh railway station, one may came across a weird scene—a youth making funny noises, largely resembling to those produces by grey langoors. It’s neither a prank nor is the person mentally unstable. The act is a part of his duty.

Since passenger safety is a prime concern for the railways, Charbagh railway station has a man who can chase away monkeys.

The man Kismat ensures none of the 1.25 lakh passengers who come and leave the station are harmed by monkeys and for this railways’ Lucknow division pays him ₹1.44 lakh per year.

Shivendra Shukla, senior DCM, Northern Railways, Lucknow Division, says monkeys have not been troubling passengers ever since Kismat was deployed. “As of now, there are no complaints of monkey menace on the station ,” he said.

Officials said Kismat was the best option . “We were fortunate that Kismat approached us. He can copy a langoor’s voice so well that just by producing the sound , he can keep the monkeys out of the station ,” said an NR official.

Kismat earlier owned a langoor and was in monkey scaring business but he had to leave his pet in the jungle. “It was the only source of income for me . Then I decided to copy his voice,” said Kismat.

Kismat said after practising for almost three months, he mastered the voice of the langoor. Then he approached the Railways and finally bagged the job of scaring away the monkeys.

Kismat’s appointment made a huge difference. “Cases of monkey bites were very frequent. But from the very first day of his appointment the scenario began to change,” said an officer at Charbagh station.

Kismat’s day begins at 6am. “I start from the circulating areas and then cover all the platforms. Besides, I also keep a vigil on the trees to ensure that no monkeys are around,” Kismat said.