Monkey Gang Wars Keep Killing People in India
In the last three months, fights between monkeys have resulted in seven people dying.
On October 6, Laxman Tulsiani, a gold dealer, and Veera, a caretaker, were examining a construction site in Agra city in north Indias Uttar Pradesh (UP) state. A massive monkey brawl broke out at the property, resulting in a wall collapsing on the two men. Laxman and Veera died at a nearby hospital.
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In July this year, a family sleeping in their courtyard were crushed to death after the wall beside them was violently shaken by a troop of brawling monkeys in UPs Shahjahanpur district.
With a monkey population of more than 50 million, there have been at least 13 deaths caused by monkey attacks across India since 2015. More than 1,000 cases of monkey bites are reported every day in Indian cities, according to a government run primate research centre.
India has been facing a monkey menace since the late 80s. Before that, humans and primates peacefully co-existed without such conflicts, Dr Iqbal Malik, a primatologist, with 40 years of experience in studying monkey species in India, told VICE News.
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Dr Malik points to a variety of reasons behind the deteriorating relationship between humans and primates. Lack of population control of both humans and monkeys, depletion of forest areas which could have been habitats for monkeys, and shift to monoculture farming has led to increased rivalry and aggression amongst monkeys.
This aggression then carries on to humans, especially in cases when the land inhabited by monkeys is usurped by the authorities.
Between 2002 and 2018, India lost 310,624 hectares of forest cover due to deforestation and industrialisation.
Depending on the scale and nature of damage, state governments have come up with various ideas to tackle the issue. In the national capital, Delhi, the government has been relocating monkeys to a wildlife sanctuary. There have also been efforts to shift monkeys from Delhi to forests in neighbouring states. In 2016, the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh declared monkeys as vermin, allowing people to kill them. In 2019, Uttarakhand state followed suit. In east Indias Bihar state, farmers have tried to persuade local politicians to contain attacks of monkeys on crops.
In India, peoples cultural beliefs impact the way they treat monkeys. Hanuman (also called Bajrangbali), the monkey deity, is one of the most popular gods in Hindu mythology.
People call me to relocate monkeys in urban areas, but I cant bear to see them caged. After all, they are our lord Bajrangbali, Ravi Kumar, a monkey chaser in Delhi, told VICE News. Kumar, who chases monkeys by imitating their sound, describes himself as a security guard for monkeys......
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Many if not all of the curses we deal from day to day (socio-political, environmental or what have you) are functions of the big one -- too many people by a factor of 10, 20 or more. But it's virtually unnoticed outside of specialists. The situation exists in a blind spot, if at all, for most people of any worldview.
Rightists deride the idea. Even the great Rivero is fond of sneering "Anybody who thinks we need less people in the world should start by taking himself out". But the truth comes out in too many news features for comfort.
What I've never heard anybody answer is what was so terribly wrong with humanity clocking in at (for instance) only one billion around the year 1800. How about 1600 AD when it was only half a bil -- was this somehow shameful or disadvantagious?
The next question is obviously what would be wrong with it if humanity could be persuaded to benignly, organically, peacefully, nonviolently, voluntarily shave its numbers back in that direction (VHEMT.org). It's kind of happening anyway with many races or ethnicities while the dumber, more primitive and savage ones breed like rabbits.
So here we have yet another case -- people bulldozing natural habitats (thanks, A. even if you didn't mean it that way) and paying the price with displaced, very populous wildlife. I tho't the critters at least had some respect for architecture....