Delhi Metro moves to keep monkeys at bay
Officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said signs have been installed at all its stations across its 391km network where conflicts between humans and monkeys are a routine problem, or where access is easy for simians
The Delhi Metro is trying to tackle a monkey problem that has bogged down its stations for over two decades now. And it hopes signage that asks people not to feed or lure monkeys, and deploying staffers armed with bamboo sticks, will keep simians away from its stations, especially in areas surrounded by green spaces or the Ridge, Delhi’s green lungs. The agency also plans to hire people who can mimic the sound of langurs, to scare the monkeys away.
Efforts to keep monkeys away, officials said, were stepped up last year after a video of a monkey taking a trip on a Metro train went viral online.
Officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said signs have been installed at all its stations across its 391km network where conflicts between humans and monkeys are a routine problem, or where access is easy for simians.
These signs ask passengers not to lure monkeys with food, and to ignore a monkey if spotted. They remind commuters to keep a safe distance from the monkeys, and to avoid hitting them. They also bear helpline numbers, including DMRC’s own (155370), the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) monkey or cattle menace helpline (23348300, 23348301) and wildlife helpline numbers (9871963535, 46601096).
Though staffers are armed with bamboo sticks, or other non-conductive material, in the event of a monkey sighting, they are warned against hurting the animals.
“Our staff is counselled not to hit or harm the monkey or any other animal that has entered the Metro station. Staff must keep hitting the ground with a stick to ensure that monkeys or any other animal leave the Metro premises,” said Anuj Dayal, principal executive director of corporate communications at DMRC.
In recent weeks,, monkeys have been spotted at the Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar and Sukhdev Vihar Metro stations.
Delhi has long had a problem with its monkey population, with a 2007 Delhi high court ordering simians to be shifted from the city to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary after an attack by monkeys led to a senior government official falling from his roof.
It is estimated the sanctuary presently has over 25,000 monkeys, even as there is no count for Delhi’s total simian count, with the state planning a fresh monkey census this year in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India.
In December last year, the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) said it will fine people found feeding monkeys, after a recommendation from the state forest department.
Of Delhi’s 10 Metro lines, the Yellow (Samaypur Badli to Huda City Centre), Magenta (Botanical Garden-Janakpur West) and Blue (Dwarka Sec-21 to Noida Electronic City/Vaishali) lines most frequently report simian sightings.
Though the Yellow line passes through the Southern Ridge near Chhattarpur, most sightings on the line are at the Kashmere Gate station in north Delhi.
Metro officials said they were now also looking at the possibility of hiring more people to imitate langur sounds.
“Such people can be hired to scare away monkeys at spots where they’re frequently spotted. We could also use repellent devices that make shrill noises,” Dayal added.
Last June, a monkey was spotted on a Metro train from Yamuna Bank to Indraprastha, with the simian reportedly entering the Akshardham station. While no passengers were harmed, the video of the incident went viral, prompting the agency to create a standard operating procedure to tackle the problem.
Thus includes asking train operators to make regular announcements asking passengers to stay calm and move to other coaches if a monkey enters the train, officials said.
“All efforts necessary will then be made to move the animal out of the train with the assistance of station staff. Similarly, if the monkey is spotted on a moving train, announcements will be made to alert the passengers and the animal will then be moved out at the next station,” Dayal said, adding that if efforts to move the monkey out fail, all passengers will be asked to get off, and the empty train taken to the depot to remove the animal.
Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist-in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP) in north Delhi, said monkeys are seen in urban settings even where the Ridge is not near, with the guarantee of food a major factor behind their high count.
“We have to stop feeding monkeys at public places and so the DMRC’s approach is good. These monkeys, or any animal, is only able to breed freely if there is food security. By feeding them, an artificial food security is being created. This also makes the monkeys more reliant on humans, destroying their natural foraging nature,” he said.
Sonya Ghosh, a member of a Delhi high court-appointed committee to translocate monkeys, said the state’s simian census should put an actual number on the problem, with a plan then needed to sterilise monkeys in high-population or conflict areas first.
“Translocation is not the solution, but instead, the monkeys need to be sterilised, without being separated from their pack,” she said.