Cut-outs of langur to scare off monkeys along G20 routes in Delhi

Aug 29, 2023 11:37 PM IST

Experts doubt the effectiveness of the measures and call for a more extensive study to tackle Delhi's monkey problem

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has begun installing life-size cut-outs of grey langurs on roads along the Central Ridge in an attempt to keep rhesus macaques, colloquially known as rhesus monkeys, away from transit routes and venues during the G20 Summit. The civic body will also deploy 40 trained workers who will mimic the sound made by grey langurs in an attempt to keep monkeys away from hotels and G20 Summit-related venues, senior officials aware of the matter said.

Langur cut-outs at SP Marg, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Vipin Kumar/HT)
Langur cut-outs at SP Marg, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Vipin Kumar/HT)

NDMC vice chairman Satish Upadhyay said that these temporary steps are being taken in coordination with the Delhi forest department to ensure that monkeys remain inside the Ridge and do not cause disruptions to the motorcades of dignitaries.

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“The langur cut-outs have been put up on an experimental basis, and we will have to see how much actual impact they have on the monkey density. We also have trained people who are experts in making sounds similar to langurs. They will be deployed at various sites across New Delhi to keep monkeys in check,” Upadhyay said.

However, experts expressed their doubt over whether these methods will be successful, and called for a more extensive study to tackle Delhi’s monkey problem.

Delhi has never carried out any monkey census, but their unchecked population growth has led to monkey attacks being a regular feature in various parts of the city.

One of the most high-profile monkey attacks occurred in 2007, when deputy mayor SS Bajwa was attacked by monkeys, fell off the terrace of his house, and died of head injuries. Shortly afterwards, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) began catching and relocating monkeys to the Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary following orders from the Delhi high court.

Over the last 16 years, more than 21,000 monkeys have been relocated to Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary, an MCD official said.

In May this year, the rhesus macaque was removed from schedules of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), which allows them to be treated akin to street cats or dogs.

However, NDMC does not deploy any monkey catchers to relocate the simians to the sanctuary, and is thus using langur cut-outs and calls to drive monkeys away from New Delhi.

Faiyaz Khudsar, the scientist in-charge of Delhi Development Authority’s biodiversity parks programme, said the experiment of placing langur cut-outs may not succeed as movement is a necessary component.

“Even if such an experiment is being undertaken, movement is a critical factor, and stationary cut-outs may not help. They should put up these cut-outs in large numbers as multiple replications will be needed to ascertain the impact,” Khudsar said.

He added that several factors need to be studied to make effective interventions — agencies should study the movement patterns of monkey groups, if they need to cross roads to reach certain habitats or water sources, and if the movement is much more prominent on Tuesdays and Saturdays in anticipation of food being distributed.

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