Sterilisation and not relocation solution to contain monkeys in Delhi, say experts
A decade has passed since Delhi planned to ‘shift’ its monkey-problem to the city’s fringes. Hundreds of monkeys were captured every year from the capital only to be relocated to the 4,000-acre Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. But the problem seems to be far from over.
Experts suggest that the only permanent solution to contain the monkey population lies in sterilising the animals and not relocating them. They claimed that relocation has just ended up in ‘shifting’ the problem to newer areas without solving it.
It was in 2007 that the authorities started relocating the animals on the orders of the Delhi High Court following the death of then deputy mayor SS Bajwa. He had fallen from the terrace trying to fight off monkeys. Since then about 19,674 monkeys have been relocated.
The state Forest Department claims that on the one hand, fruit bearing trees are planted regularly in the sanctuary, on the hand, monkeys are provided with about 2,500 kilos of fruits every day. But one can hardly find any fruit bearing trees in the sanctuary.
“It is because most of the trees die as it is a rocky area and those, which manage to survive, have a stunted growth with hardly any fruits. Monkeys and nilgai also destroy the saplings,” said AK Shukla, chief wildlife warden of Delhi.
Former chief of the state forest department GN Sinha recalls that the court order was to carry out the relocation process within a period of three months. A timeframe was set to prevent the growth of monkey population in residential areas.
“However, the work was not carried out in a time-bound manner which resulted into partial removal with simultaneous addition to monkey population in the residential areas. This aggravated the problem,” said Sinha.
Sources also pointed out that the amount of fruits has not been increased in the last few years even though about 200-300 monkeys have added to the sanctuary over the past few years. This results in monkeys straying out of the forest into nearby localities in search of food.
So what is the solution?
Experts claimed that relocation of monkeys is just shifting Delhi’s problem to the fringes without any permanent solution. Neither can keeping langoors to ward off the monkeys be a solution.
“The only permanent solution lies in sterilising the animals and not relocating them. In Agra, a NGO has been successfully carrying out sterilisation camps for long and the population has
been somewhat contained,” said Sonya Ghosh, member of the state advisory board for animal welfare and also a member of
the monkey translocation committee.
Earlier this year, a NGO working on wildlife gave a presentation to the forest department top brass on sterilisation of monkeys. But nothing moved thereafter.
“Delhi needs to come up with a permanent solution instead of fiddling with short-cut measures to address the problem. The only solution is sterilisation as is being done in the case of dogs. We need to come up with a standard operating procedure,” said Sinha.