Patiala, December 3
A gang of thieves is giving sleepless nights to residents in and around the city, but there is not much that the police or the residents can do about them. The reason? The gang comprises monkeys on the prowl, and they are in the habit of stealing food, clothes and sometimes even items that are of no value to them.
The marauding primates have become a problem here. Angry residents want to get rid of the simians. A Sular resident, Arjesh Kumar, said, “They come out of the Bir area every evening and sit on rooftops or near residential gates. They sometimes become ferocious and even attack the residents if they do not get something to eat.”
The monkey population here and on the outskirts has become a problem for the residents as well as the commuters. The cause of the growth in population is the protected forest lands in Bir on the outskirts of the city.
Anil Joshi, a resident of Lal Bagh, said, “A gang of notorious monkeys has been coming in and stealing away whatever they can find lying in the open. From cricket bats to wooden baskets and, in some cases, even books, these monkeys leave nothing behind.”
Divisional Forest Officer Neeraj Gupta told The Tribune that earlier this year, according to the recently amended Wildlife Protection Act, 2022, which came into force on April 1, monkeys are no longer under their ambit as they are not a scheduled animal. He said, “The responsibility for monkeys lies with the Municipal Corporation or the district administration, as is the case with dogs.”
Already burdened with the growing dog menace, the administration now has the task of tackling the growing monkey population, too. A senior Wildlife Department official said, “Bir will no longer accept monkeys that are caught outside. The ones inside the protected areas will continue to be treated as wild.”
A wildlife expert, Jaskaran Singh Sandhu, said, “The need of the hour is to have a rescue centre for monkeys invading human territory. The administration must ensure food and water inside the forest land so that the monkeys do not come out. An earmarked area for people to feed monkeys with permission from the authorities concerned may also be a plausible way out of this problem.”
Deer park jail at Motibagh forest
The lone monkey jail in Patiala was earlier situated in a corner of the zoo called Deer Park in Motibagh Forest. The jail, defunct and closed almost a decade ago, had a single cell about 15 feet wide, 15 feet deep and 12 feet high. Monkeys causing trouble were brought here before eventually being released in the wild. This jail was closed due to a lack of funds.
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