For simian head count, state ropes in top primate scientists

  • Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Jun 06, 2015 21:47 IST

Struggling to put an end to monkey menace, the wildlife wing of the forest department has planned an exhaustive head count to ascertain the actual simian population that has been raising concern among the authorities as well as the agrarian community.

The survey is aimed at enabling the department to evolve a better strategy for controlling the growing simian population.

The monkey menace is on the rise in Himachal Pradesh and threatening the agrarian activities across the state. The state government has been devising various mechanisms to tackle the problem, but to no avail.

"The department focuses on identifying strategies, suggesting solutions and devising control mechanisms for which reconnaissance and a surveys is required for an accurate, fresh estimation of the simian population," additional chief secretary (forest) Tarun Shridhar said.

The department has decided to rope in Dr Mewa Singh of the University of Mysore and Dr HN Kumara, a scientist at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, and Dr Ajith Kumar of National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, along with his research scholars. These scientists would camp at Shimla from June 25 onwards to guide and monitor the field officials, Shridhar added.

The monkey census carried out in 2004 put the simian population in the hill state at 3,17,112 while in 2013, the number fell down to 2,26,086. "There is still a question whether the declining trend is accurate. Partial monkey census surveys were also carried out in 2010 and 2012, in selected forest divisions, which too could not give a conclusive report on the trend of the simian population to the department," he added.

As per the plan prepared by the forest department, master trainers would be deputed from June 14 to June 20. Thereafter, the field staff would go in for reconnaissance, beat-wise, to identify the monkey troupe locations from June 21 to June 27.

"A comprehensive survey will be carried out from July 1 onwards and subsequently it would be repeated in December," a forest official said.

"Territorial forest guards as well as wild life guards will carry out the monkey population count in their beat jurisdiction exhaustively. The forest guards will visit all monkey troupe locations, identified during the pre-survey period, with the assistance of 3-4 forest workers," said Shridhar.

The estimation of monkey population would be done through actual counting of male, female and young monkeys in each troupe and number of troupes at each location. The status of monkey population would be estimated in 5 categories of areas, namely forests, urban, rural, temples and roadsides, separately by following the 'direct head count method'. On June 30, a day before the actual head count of monkeys starts, all forest guards will carry out a pre-survey of all monkey troupe locations and estimate population of each troupe.

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