Change in cities led to monkeys’ displacement
Orchards, small farms, empty spaces or even forts-places they lived in, are disturbed, developed or destroyed. They are forced to move out in groups to clash with human beings.
For the last year, I have been learning about the monkey-crisis in one village of the Akhnoor subdivision of Jammu. Last week, an old woman estimated half her mango crop was devoured by the Rhesus Macaques. This, a resident tells me, is a phenomenon no older than ten years. The villagers suspect that the forest department trapped the monkeys from another area, perhaps a city, releasing them here. But they also blame another phenomenon: a new roadway, frequented by pilgrims- a new food mecca for these monkeys, whose blessings these passing pilgrims seek. The villagers are stuck: they don’t want to deny the sacred monkeys food, but they are uneasy about these co-inhabitants who bite.
This village isn’t a lone example. Monkeys are increasingly seen as a menace. This is sad as they are, in reality, internally displaced animals. As cities change, their traditional eating habitats are lost. Orchards, small farms, empty spaces or even forts-places they lived in, are disturbed, developed or destroyed. They are forced to move out in groups to clash with human beings. As pressure mounts to get rid of them, they are often captured and released elsewhere. If their groups are fractured, the lone stragglers turn aggressive.
The solution is not to dump them elsewhere. A combination of meticulously undertaken and monitored sterilization processes, innovative awareness to end public feeding and ensuring natural food sources are key to a win-win. Over time, the population might reduce, but for now, there is no short-cut to bearing this expense.
(The writer is Founder and Director Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)