The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Langur on lawn, Priyanka dials for help
- No monkey business

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Even Priyanka Vadra’s elite SPG commandos couldn’t keep this intruder at bay.

She has now joined the growing list of VIPs to dial the monkey hotline after a langur dodged her multi-layered security ring for a stroll on her lawns last evening.

Members of the security squad, unequipped to deal with such a trespasser, speed-dialled the enforcement department of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the civic body that oversees Lutyen’s Delhi, for help.

“A langur catcher was sent to her house within 10 minutes,” said an official. But despite the efforts of the one-man squad to trap the animal, the monkey gave him the slip.

The monkey catchers, who have had a tough time fighting the menace since they were brought in after deputy mayor S.S. Bajwa fell to his death while shooing away a simian last month, got lucky in another part of the capital.

They finally trapped the monkey that had gone on a biting spree over the weekend — 32 people, including women and children, suffered injuries — in an east Delhi neighbourhood under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

But others facing the simian offensive haven’t been able to breathe easy. Many blamed the monkey-catching drive itself, saying the plan to snare one at a time had left many of the animals lonely, orphaned and aggressive.

Animal rights activists accused civic bodies, the NDMC and the MCD, of using faulty trapping methods that made the simians, gregarious by nature, violent.

According to animal rights activist Sonia Ghosh, lonely monkeys would typically turn aggressive. “Monkey trappers often don’t wait for the whole family.”

Civic authorities argued that catching entire families was always easier said than done. “If there is a family of 10 monkeys and we manage to lure eight into the cage, we can’t wait endlessly for the rest,” said R.V.S Tyagi, who heads the MCD’s veterinary services wing.

Tyagi claims he requested animal activists to help the civic body but they refused. “They (the activists) have told me that they can only advise us. But this method of waiting for all monkeys doesn’t work on the ground.”

The MCD offers a catcher Rs 450 for each simian. However, the money is not proving attractive enough and the civic authority is unable to find enough takers for the job.

East Delhi, gripped by the simian scare, has only one catcher who is available for a week in a month. “We have advertised across India. But no one applied,” Tyagi said.

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