India deploys ‘monkey-men’ to scare away primates from G20 summit

Published August 31, 2023
A cut-out of a langur is tied to a fence alongside a road to scare away monkeys, ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2023. — Reuters
A cut-out of a langur is tied to a fence alongside a road to scare away monkeys, ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2023. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: Indian officials preparing for the G20 summit next week have hired teams of “monkey-men” and erected primate cutouts to deter marauding monkeys from munching on the floral displays laid out for global leaders.

New Delhi’s city council has hired more than 30 “monkey wallahs”, or “monkey-men”, who mimic the hoots and screams of the aggressive langur monkey — the natural enemy of the smaller rhesus macaque primates who wreak havoc in the capital’s leafy government areas.

“We can’t remove the monkeys from their natural habitat, so we have deployed a team of 30-40 men who are trained to scare away monkeys,” Satish Upadhyay, the vice-chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Council, said on Wednesday.

“We will deploy one man each at the hotels where the delegates would be staying, as well as in places where monkey sightings have been reported.” Though revered in the majority Hindu nation, monkeys are a major menace, often trashing gardens, office and residential rooftops and even viciously attacking people for food.

The Delhi metropolitan area, home to around 30 million people, has been on an intense beautification drive since India assumed the G20 presidency last year.

Police have readied a near-shutdown of the centre of the capital for the September 9-10 summit, with roads blocked and a holiday declared with businesses shut.But worries that troops of monkeys may charge in front of the conveys of cars ferrying presidents and prime ministers from the Group of 20 nations meant the council turned to the forest department for a plan.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2023

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