Indian court banishes 300 monkeys from New Delhi
Thursday, October 12, 2006
NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court ordered wildlife authorities to catch hundreds of monkeys that roam the Indian capital, often terrorizing residents, and relocate them thousands of miles away, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The roughly 300 Rhesus macaques will be shifted from New Delhi to the dense jungles of Madhya Pradesh state, whose government will receive $54,000 from the federal government to cover the cost of reintroducing the monkeys to the wild, the Hindu reported.
Government buildings, temples and many residential neighborhoods of New Delhi are overrun by an army of macaques. The monkeys scare passers-by, and occasionally bite or snatch food from unsuspecting visitors.
For years, state animal welfare agencies have tried to rid the capital of the simian scourge, but their efforts have been defeated, in part, by Hindus who believe that monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman.
Many feed the monkeys nuts, bread and bananas, encouraging the animals to frequent parks, temples and other public places.
Scores of monkeys caught by animal handlers have been left to languish in cages while the government ponders what to do with them. This has sparked protests by animal rights activists.
The ruling Tuesday was prompted an animal rights activist's petition saying that the animals would die if held in captivity for too long.
Six states in north India have refused to take the New Delhi monkeys, saying they already have enough of the animals, the government's counsel told the court, according to the newspaper.
Court officials were not available to comment Wednesday.
Other initiatives to rid residential and office neighborhoods of the monkeys, such as scaring them off with langurs -- a particularly fierce breed of apes -- met with limited success when the monkeys moved to nearby locations.