August 26, 2012

Monkeys in Parliament

SACRED MONKEY: A family walked out of the Lord Hanuman temple in the Karol Bagh neighborhood in New Delhi Tuesday. The monkey god is one of the most revered in Hinduism. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)

From The New York Times, May 22 2012:

“They were totally silent, very quick and highly effective.”

The monkey population of Delhi has grown so large and aggressive that overwhelmed city officials have petitioned India’s Supreme Court to relieve them of the task of monkey control.

“We have trapped 13,013 monkeys since 2007,” said R. B. S. Tyagi, director of veterinary services for Delhi’s principal city government. Nonetheless, Delhi’s monkey population has only increased.

The reason is simple: People feed them. Monkeys are the living representatives of the cherished Hindu god Hanuman, and Hindu tradition calls for feeding monkeys on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Dr. Tyagi expressed impatience with residents who feed the monkeys one day, then complain to the city when the monkeys steal their clothes on another day.

Dr. Tyagi’s agency has asked the city’s wildlife agency for help, but wildlife officials claim that the monkeys — a scourge of the city for years as urbanization has encroached on their original habitat — are no longer wild and are thus not their responsibility.

The New York Times, “Indians Feed the Monkeys, Which Bite the Hand”