Monkey terror shift from city to Delhi’s fringes
Ten-year-old Jhanvi never sits next to the window in her classroom. Her classmates also avoid the seats near the windows.
A student of Class 6 at Government Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Jaunapur, Jhanvi recounts incidents when monkeys entered her classroom through the windows and snatched books, lunch boxes and bottles.
Though the school is located nearly three kilometres from the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary (only place in city identified for relocating monkeys), “menace” of monkeys is increasing everyday in the neighbouring areas.
Locals blame the government authorities for shifting the problem of monkey menace from the city to its fringes. “The simians, which were relocated to the sanctuary, are moving to nearby residential areas and schools because the sanctuary has crossed its carrying capacity and has no space to accommodate more monkeys,” said Saraswati Kumar, resident of Sangam Vihar.
At Asola Village, around 28 kilometres from India Gate, the animals enter. Scared, the residents have covered their roofs with thorny branches to prevent the small simians from jumping onto it.
“Children carrying food items are particularly vulnerable that’s why they run after seeing them and get injured. Why should we bear the burden of the entire city and let our children become victims of the monkeys,” said Champa Singh, resident of Asola Village.
At the government school in Jaunapur, the problem was brought under control for a few days when the school authorities hired a langoor. “But we can’t afford to hire a langoor for the whole year. It is important that the concerned authorities help us is getting a permanent solution,” said the school teacher.
On July 27, area councillor Vedpal wrote to the deputy chief minister and Directorate of Education. “If no timely action is taken than it can risk the lives of students. We have requested the Delhi government to arrange for at least two langoors to keep away the simians from schools. Fences should be put up around the place immediately,” said Vedpal.
The problem is shared by other areas close to the boundary of the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary such as Chandan Hola, Maidan Garhi, Sainik Farm and Deoli village.
“Although the fence is meant to stop monkeys from entering the village, it doesn’t prevent them from doing what they do best. They scale it with ease. It is important that the municipal corporation makes arrangements to catch the simians at regular intervals,” said a forest official, Delhi Government.
However, the veterinary officials who work for the municipal corporation said that they can’t deal with problem alone.
“The Delhi government is not doing enough to preserve the natural habitat and plant more fruit bearing trees in the sanctuary. Not just that, residents have also become habitual of offering food to monkey near parks, religious and other public places. But once the simians invade urban areas, they tend to come back again and again in search of food. They barge into neighbouring villages when they cannot find food,” said the veterinary official working with North MCD.
MCD officials said that the Forest Department needs to step in to control the problem. “As per the Wildlife Protection Act, catching wild animals is not our job. It is the responsibility of the Forest Department. They have the staff trained for this purpose,” said a veterinary department official.
The agency had also asked the Forest Department to provide trained monkey catchers.
A senior official from forest department said there is no specific training given for catching monkey. “Even our staff are not trained as such. It’s just that they do it again and again to attain expertise. Moreover, monkey menace in city is a civic issue and only MCD can deal with the problem. From our side, we provide all assistance to deal with problem. We never stop MCD from leaving monkeys in the sanctuary and provide cages regularly, as per their requisitions,” said the official.