The loss of green cover, the mushrooming of apartment complexes and the growing piles of garbage have compounded the monkey menace in the city, especially on the outskirts.
Now, it’s a double whammy for citizens. They have to pay a bomb to get rid of the animals. Apartment associations are being asked to pay anything between Rs 65,000 and Rs 1 lakh for the capture and release of monkeys to conducive habitats.
“Monkeys raid our place every day. They rummage through garbage buckets, snatch lunch boxes from children and even enter our homes. We approached the Karnataka Forest Department, which routed us to monkey catchers, who in turn demanded Rs 1 lakh. The relief lasted just a week... the monkeys returned,” said Dinesh, a resident of an apartment complex in Vidyaranyapura.
Sujatha from Sarjapura Road had a similar experience. “Initially, the rescuer demanded Rs 1 lakh. He claimed to be an expert from Maharashtra. When we tried to buy time, he brought the fee down to Rs 85,000. Monkeys have attacked children and women,” she said.
Some apartment complexes are using firecrackers to drive away monkeys. This “special” duty is entrusted with the security guards.
Karnataka Forest Department officials said that it was up to the apartment owner and animal rescuer to fix the cost. The department has only given permission to catch monkeys and release them into conducive habitats under Section 11(1-A) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, said R Gokul, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru.
“People approach us, saying there is a threat to children and that properties are being damaged. Appropriate directions have been issued to the deputy conservator of forests. Unlike rural areas, monkeys face no threat from predators like leopards in the city. Food is also in abundance. They are unable to move around, as there are no vast spaces in the city. Thus, the menace is increasing,” Gokul said.
Forest Department and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials cite garbage mismanagement. “Since citizens are not managing their garbage, monkeys and street dogs are thriving,” said a BBMP official.
However, urban conservationists are divided on whether to capture the simians or let them be.
Fruit trees to feed monkeys
The Forest Department has come up with some novel initiatives to address the monkey menace in urban spaces. It plans to plant as many fruit trees as possible in the forest areas surrounding Bengaluru. The decision has already been implemented at the Jarakbande Kaval forest area near Yelahanka where the department officials have taken up planting of native species, especially fruit-bearing trees, on close to 50 acres.
Speaking to DH, a senior official of the Bengaluru Urban forest department said, "Currently, most of the forest patches around Bengaluru have eucalyptus trees. But ever since the government banned these trees, we have been clearing them in a phased manner as and when the plantation is ready for harvest. Soon after clearing these trees, we are planting native species, including fruit varieties like mango, tamarind, jamun and ficus species, so that they provide food for the monkeys. This has begun at Jarakbande Kaval," the official said.
It is the lack of food in the forest that has prompted the primates to stray into human habitations, the official observed.