To fight monkey menace, Himachal to try ultrasonic shots

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Shimla: Faced with troops of marauding monkeys that have been stealing food and menacing the streets of this popular resort and nearby areas, Himachal Pradesh’s wildlife wing is planning to ‘fire’ ultrasonic waves to keep the simians at bay.

On a pilot basis, the wildlife wing plans to install a machine on the Mall Road, the famous promenade that was developed when this hill town was the summer capital of British India.

“Initially, one machine will be installed for 15 days. If the results are good, we can fix more machines at various locations,” Chief Conservator (Wildlife) P.L. Chauhan told IANS.

He said that before installing the machine, the department was taking opinions of health experts regarding any harmful effects of the ultrasonic waves on humans.

One machine, which costs around Rs.20,000, will cover an area of 1,000 square feet. The company which is providing the machine claims it will generate a sound of 110 to 130 decibels, which doesn’t affect humans at all.

Shimla Municipal Corporation deputy mayor Tikender Panwar said every month more than 200 monkey bite cases are reported in Shimla.

“The proposal by the company speaks about a temporary solution which scares away monkeys in an area of 1,000 square feet. This has to be tested, tried and then established, which requires a place to install a machine,” he said.

Panwar said the corporation has already identified the place, but the wildlife wing was deliberately delaying permission for installing the machine. “The monkey menace has reached an alarming proportion and it should to be tackled scientifically and on priority,” he added.

In area like the Mall Road, the Ridge, Jakhu, Tutikandi, Summer Hill, Tutu, Boileauganj, Chhotta Shimla, Sanjauli and Khalini, it is common for free-roaming monkeys to growl at humans in a menacing manner. In most of the localities, people have literally converted their houses into jails by erecting iron grills on doors and windows to check intrusion by the monkeys.

Mamta Sachdeva, a mother of two, died in November last year after jumping in panic from the balcony of her house when she was attacked by monkeys, police said.

“They enter houses, open cupboards and steal food. It’s a very frightening situation at times,” Shimla resident Lalita Sood said.

Wildlife officials said the monkey census of 2013 showed their population in the state at 236,000. This represented a decline from 319,000 in 2004.

Shimla is home to over 1,400 monkeys, as per the census.

Wildlife officials said around seven years ago, the monkeys were trapped from Shimla and banished to the jungles and that was the best technique to reduce their population.

“Now their population has grown manifold and they need to be relocated once again,” an official said.

Fed up with the failure of successive state governments, Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, state convener of farmers’ outfit Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said selective killing of the marauding monkeys was the only solution.

“The high court in 2011 restrained the state government’s decision to allow farmers to shoot monkeys that have been destroying their crops and fruits. Since then, the previous (BJP) and the present government (Congress) have failed to convince the court about the need to go for selective killing,” Tanwar told IANS.

Export of monkeys, which was allowed till 1978, for research was the only option to tackle their growing numbers, Tanwar added.

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