The 40 men hired by New Dehi Municipal Council (NDMC) may be able to scare away monkeys from around Parliament and the bungalows of judges and ministers, but the remaining part of Delhi is struggling to deal with the simian menace.
According to the forest department, drives in NDMC area — which is only 3% of Delhi— will not be effective. “NDMC also wants to catch all the monkeys in its area but such drives have to be carried out in all parts of Delhi simultaneously as monkeys keep changing locations,” said a senior forest official.
The three other civic bodies that cover the rest of the city have less than 40 monkey catchers. “We recently held a meeting with the corporations who said they can’t find catchers as the remuneration — Rs 600 per monkey — is too low. We suggested there has to be a sustained drive and catchers should be adequately compensated,” said Delhi’s chief wildlife warden AK Shukla.
The meeting decided to advertise the vacancies. “The possibility of outsourcing this job should be explored. The forest department will arrange training for such catchers. Civic agencies can submit their demands for cages,” he said.
“The biggest problem is that Delhiites continue to feed monkeys despite a ban. And monkeys have been able to figure out our tricks. Moreover, civic agencies have also lost their zeal,” said Shukla.
A court-appointed monkey rehabilitation committee met recently to explore options to contain “the alarming growth of monkeys” and decided to conduct a census.
“We cannot keep translocating monkeys to Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary forever. It’s frightening to see a large number of baby monkeys in the sanctuary. There is no vegetation suitable for them; we cannot keep supplying feed. This may affect their adaptability to a changed ecosystem,” said an official.
“Rising population of monkeys is damaging new saplings and seriously affecting plantation in the sanctuary,” he said. After a High Court order, the corporations in March 2007 started capturing monkeys from residential areas in Delhi and releasing them in the sanctuary.