Jorhat, Feb. 12: Monkeys here have developed a fancy for human company, giving the latter sleepless nights.
Hordes of monkeys have laid seige to a cluster of villages on the outskirts of this town and some other areas of the district, including Majuli.
One of them almost killed a three-month-old infant at Hazarigaon near here a few days ago when it snatched the baby boy from its mother. It dropped the baby and fled when the woman raised a hue and cry.
Assistant conservator of forests Gunin Saikia said the forest department receives countless calls everyday from distressed villagers from all over the district seeking relief from the monkey menace.
Saikia said, “Booming population of rhesus macaque over the years in several places of the district has become a headache for the forest department.” Rhesus macaque is listed under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act.
According to Saikia, the problem started after a ban was imposed on using monkeys for laboratory purposes. Previously, rhesus macaques were used to conduct tests for human drugs.
Saikia said the biggest factor for the menace was that “monkeys have adapted to living with human beings.” Some monkeys have even taken a liking to toothpaste.
With the forest department having no solution to this problem, the villagers are left at the mercy of the simians.
“We have to keep our doors and windows closed all the time or the monkeys grab anything they can lay their hands on,” said Dwipen Gayan of Borholla Napam village located along the Assam-Nagaland border here.
Villagers of Lahdoigarh have stopped cultivating vegetables in their gardens altogether. “It is no use planting vegetables as it is impossible to guard the garden all the time. The monkeys come anytime,” said Gagan Gohain, who led a delegation from his village to the forest office here to lodge a complaint about the monkeys today.
Saikia said the forest guards have been chasing the monkeys from one village to another, but there is no end to the menace. “When we receive complaints from one village, we chase the monkeys but the group moves to another village only to return a few days later.”
He cautioned that unless a proper plan was worked out to check the booming monkey population, there would be a problem more serious than the man-elephant conflict. “Monkeys wills start entering towns and cities very soon,” he added.