Dehradun : Monkeys are becoming a major problem not only in the rural areas of this small hill state, but even in the urban areas, where the municipal authorities are fighting a losing battle with the simians, much to the chagrin of school going children, who have to bear the brunt of the menace in the cities.
Forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal admitted that the simians are a major problem for Uttarakhand and the forest department is doing its best to cope with the problem. “Though no official census of the monkey population in the state has been done, but their number is put at about five lakhs, which by any account is a large number”, he added.
He said that experts have been called from outside the state from time to time to help trap the monkeys and also train the forest department staff in catching the monkeys in traps. However, many felt that it was not an immediate problem to the solution and some thing needed to be done in real earnest to tackle the problem which is increasing in magnitude in every passing day.
The minister said that the problem had been aggravated because of the fact that a large number of monkeys were being quietly left in the forests of Uttarakhand after being caught in traps in the neighboring states. “We have asked the forest department staff to maintain a vigil against such vehicles that come with a large number of monkeys and ensure that they are not left in the forests of the state”, he claimed.
He said that to tackle the problem it had been decided to vasectomies the male monkeys in large numbers and then let them off in the forests. Centres for vasectomising the male monkeys will also be opened at the Haldwani Zoo, Malsi Park in Dehra Dun, Almora and Nainital so that the exercise can be strengthened to bring some relief from the simian population.
But what is causing concern to the people is the fact that the monkey population is increasing rapidly in the major cities of the state, including the capital, where garden owners complain that their kitchen and flower garden are literally destroyed by the simians. What is more is the fact that a large number of children almost every day suffer from monkey bite and have to take anti-rabies shots.
An official of the forest department said that it had been decided that the department would now provide anti-rabies vaccines to victims of monkey bite so that they do not have to spend their money. Though it is no solution to the large number of monkeys in the city but victims of monkey bites will have some relief, he claimed.