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Simian armies continue to cause panic in Taj city

Simian armies continue to cause panic in Taj city
Highlights

A month after two shocking deaths and a series of attacks by monkey armies, Agra continues to remain in panic mode as government agencies indulge in passing the buck Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar and District Magistrate N G Ravi Kumar have had several rounds of meetings with the Forest and Wildlife Department officials but all have raised their hands in utter helplessness

A month after two shocking deaths and a series of attacks by monkey armies, Agra continues to remain in panic mode as government agencies indulge in passing the buck. Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar and District Magistrate N G Ravi Kumar have had several rounds of meetings with the Forest and Wildlife Department officials but all have raised their hands in utter helplessness.

An official said there was neither the expertise nor the funds to deal with the thousands of rampaging monkeys. “Also, even if we manage to capture some, where do we house them or free them? The provisions of the Wildlife Act leave no room for any drastic measures against the monkeys,” the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Officials of the Wildlife SOS, an NGO running sloth bear and elephant centres in Agra, have offered to help with sterilisations and build a secure shelter for the simians, but need funds from the state government which has declined for the moment to support any such programme.

For the district authorities, the simian menace is right now a major concern as tourists visiting the historical monuments have been repeatedly attacked by the monkeys.

Tourism industry leaders have called for prompt measures to insulate the Taj Mahal from simian invasion. “Foreign tourists feel insecure and restrict their movements fearing attacks from stray animals. So many cases of bag snatching and monkey bites have been reported that a sense of fear grips the visitors when they arrive here,” claimed Taj Ganj hotelier Sandeep Arora.

Civic authorities seem helpless in tackling the menace. The situation is worse in the holy towns of Mathura, Goverdhan and Vrindavan. According to the locals, there is a certain herd mentality among the monkeys.

Every shrine has dozens and dozens of the primates who have only become more aggressive over the years. For the pilgrims -- especially women and children negotiating their way through the lanes was always a bit difficult with cows and stray dogs everywhere. Now the simian menace has made it more troubling.

By Brij Khandelwal

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