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Donations to be sought from Hanuman devotees for captive monkeys in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand forest department will seek donations from Hanuman devotees to provide food and facilities to the monkeys that will be kept in captivity in a proposed sanctuary, officials said.

dehradun Updated: Jul 23, 2018 22:21 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Monkeys,Hanuman
A pilgrim offers nuts to monkeys near Mansa Devi temple in Haridwar. Uttarakhand accounts for nearly 2 lakh monkeys. Simian attacks are often reported from cities and rural areas in the hill state. (HT File Photo)

The Uttarakhand forest department will seek donations from Hanuman devotees to provide food and facilities to the monkeys that will be kept in captivity in a proposed sanctuary, officials said.

On the lines of Delhi’s Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, the department has mooted a plan to establish a 100-hectare sanctuary near Haldwani for the simian population.

The sanctuary will have two segments. Monkeys caught in the wild will be released in the bigger segment (two-third of the space). Of the wild monkeys, the sterilised ones will be kept in the second segment for monitoring, forest officials said.

The sanctuary will be governed by the administration of Pt GB Pant High Altitude Zoo, Nainital, and will follow Central Zoo Authority (CZA) norms. The pilot project will have a capacity to house at least 10,000 monkeys.

“Just like people give donations for the upkeep of zoo animals, similarly we will seek donations for captive monkeys,” said Parag Madhukar Dhakate, conservator of forest (CF), western circle.

He said the donations would support the management of Nainital Zoo that houses at least 10 mammal species, including tigers, leopards, Tibetan wolf and serows, besides birds.

The hill state accounts for nearly 2 lakh monkeys. Simian attacks are often reported from cities and rural areas. The department started sterilisation centre at Chidiapur in Haridwar in 2016 to rein in the simian population. Of 13000 monkeys caught in two years, 1700 were sterilised. Another sterilisation centre at Haldwani has begun functioning.

“Because of Hindu belief (monkeys are a manifestation of lord Hanuman) the population of monkeys couldn’t be checked and the problem has gone out of control today. The devotees will now have an opportunity to please their god by donating for captive monkeys,” a senior forest officer said, requesting anonymity.

Some officials claim Delhi had spent crores in managing the captive monkeys, yet adjoining areas are reeling under conflicts. Donations will be sought as Uttarakhand cannot afford to set up such an expensive project.

“We are working on a DPR (detailed project report), which will be sent to government for approval. After that CZA approval will be taken to start the work,” said Kapil Joshi, chief conservator of forest (CCF), Kumaon.

Officials claim sterilisation of simian population was carried out on a large scale in Himachal Pradesh, but there was no way to monitor the monkeys released after the surgery. The Uttarakhand model will provide an insight on the success rate of sterilization, officials said.

Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is also working on measures, including oral contraception, to check population of the species.

“I am not sure the expenses involved can be raised from donations, and management of a huge captive population of an aggressive species is not going to be easy. This idea does not seem practical to me,” said Ullhas Karanth, eminent conservationist and wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 22:21 IST