India’s government has gone to the monkeys.
New Delhi’s finance ministry, defense ministry and the presidential palace, among other government entities, are plagued with thousands of monkeys. Specifically, rhesus macaques – one of the most common breeds of monkeys found in south and central Asia.
Officials estimate there are between 4,000 and 5,000 monkeys living in and around the red sandstone buildings, wreaking havoc on the surrounding areas, including stealing food, damaging power lines and stealing documents through windows, Reuters reported. Employees say they take extra precautions on their way to work to avoid the mischievous monkeys.
“This is a problem that will get solved only with time,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, a local animal rights activist.
He explained the first step in eradicating the problem is to encourage the local population to stop feeding the monkeys – a task that will prove difficult since feeding the monkeys bananas is common in the area as many Hindus believe primates are a reincarnation of Hanuman, the monkey god.
“Stop feeding monkeys,” said Satyanarayan. “Do not feed monkeys at all because you will confuse them and then they will expect to be fed all the time.”
Another crucial precaution includes being wary litter, he said.
“You have to understand that you must not throw garbage,” Satyanarayan said. “If you have garbage and food available then you are sending wrong signals to the monkey. It's going to think you are keeping food available.”
Indian authorities have also hired a group of Kandalars, a tribe who traditionally catch monkeys and train them to dance on the streets.
Their trick is to mimic their natural predator, the langur monkeys, said Gul Khan, who comes from a line of monkey chasers.
Meanwhile, Indian authorities are warning people to protect themselves by avoiding eye contact with the primates and not crossing between a mother macaque and her baby.