In injectable contraceptive, forest dept finds a solution to control monkey menace
To control the monkey menace in the city, the Delhi government’s forest department is pinning all its hopes on an injectable contraceptive, developed by an IIT Delhi professor in the 1980s, for human males.
The drug — Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG) — developed by Sujoy Guha has been successfully tried on animals such as rats, rabbits and the common monkey (rhesus macaque) besides humans. It has been declared safe by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) in 2018 and is now awaiting mass production.
An affidavit — filed by Ishwar Singh, the Delhi forest department’s chief wildlife warden (CWW) — before the Delhi High Court on Thursday states that the RISUG is a viable option after three failed attempts to get NGOs to conduct laparoscopic sterilisation of the simians. Any invasive procedure is scorned at by wildlife activists for the fear of monkeys scratching open their stitches.
Delhi’s monkey population is estimated at a few lakhs, and is burgeoning — with areas such as Tis Hazari in the northern ridge and Sunder Nagar reporting violent man-simian conflicts. The forest department has been translocating all monkeys caught to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary since 2007. Since then, the government has been spending ₹8 lakh on feeding about 19,000 of these primates a diet of 2,500 kilograms of fruits and vegetables per month.
“A meeting (on this issue) was conducted by the chief secretary, Delhi, on April 22, during which it was pointed out by veterinary doctors that successful trials of RISUG have already been conducted on primates,” the affidavit reads. Trials on monkeys at AIIMS, the Central Drug Research Institute (Lucknow) and University of Rajasthan (Jaipur) have shown full success and safety. This has also been reported in top international scientific journals.
A senior forest official, who requested anonymity, told HT, “Since the earlier drug we were considering, Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP), had to be imported from Africa at a huge cost, and its effectiveness had not been tested on monkeys, we found RISUG to be a much better option.”
When contacted, Guha said he has, indeed, been contacted in this regard. “This is a viable option. The delivery of a RISUG injection to monkeys takes just 15 minutes with no incision or stitch and is effective for a lifetime.”
Wildlife activist Sonya Ghosh said any such medical intervention has to be done carefully. “We have to be 100% sure that it will be safe for the animals,” she said.
Meera Bhatia, the lawyer who has been fighting a case in the Delhi High Court for monkey control in New Friends Colony since 2001, said she will be happy with any effective remedy. “This legal struggle to find a solution to the monkey menace has been going on for 18 years now.”