India employs men in ape suits to drive away parliament's monkeys
Indian officials have adopted an 'if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach to scare away hordes of macaques plaguing its parliament, hiring ape-men to act as a deterrent
The Indian government is hiring men to pose as menacing langur monkeys to scare off the hundreds of macaques terrorising MPs and staff around its parliament and central government buildings.
M Venkiah Naidu, the urban development minister, told MPs on Thursday that 40 young people had been hired to disguise themselves as langurs - India’s bigger, predatory monkeys - to frighten away the macaques.
If the ape-men failed to rid the capital’s administrative centre of the monkey menace then marksmen armed with rubber bullets could be deployed.
The announcement reflects growing frustration at the continuing presence of macaque monkeys in the city centre and the terror and damage they cause.
The roam freely over the vast open lawns of India Gate, and assail government buildings where they chew through internet and telephone cables, attack staff for food, and occasionally jump in through the windows and pace the corridors of power.
Attempts to curb the menace were stepped up in 2007 when the city’s deputy mayor died after being attacked by monkeys and knocked off his balcony.
There have been drives to round them up and deport them to the jungles of northern India with the deployment of monkey-catchers who lead large, leashed black-faced langurs around the city in the hope their intimidating scent will keep the macaques at bay.
The macaques were reprieved last year when the use of captive langurs was banned over concerns of animal cruelty. In desperation officials teamed up with American zoologists to control monkey business by putting them on the pill. Officials planned to sterilise captured monkeys and mix oral contraceptives in food left for them on roads.
But for short term respite while longer term solutions are explored, Mr Naidu has chosen the men in monkey suits option.
"Various efforts are being made to tackle monkey and dog menace inside and around Parliament House,” officials said in a statement.
"Shri [S. Venkiah] Naidu said the measures being taken include: scaring the monkeys away by trained persons who disguise themselves as langurs.
"New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has hired 40 young persons for this purpose. NDMC also acquired Sure Shot Rubber Bullet Guns for scaring away the monkeys", the statement added.