Mangalore Circle of forest department has mooted a proposal to set up a rescue and sterilisation centre for monkeys on the lines of such centres existing in Himachal Pradesh.

Its objective is to control their population as monkeys have been damaging crops worth crores of rupees extensively in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

The proposal has been mooted after a team of forest officials of the circle and farmers visited Himachal Pradesh four months ago to study how such centres are functioning in that state, sources in the department told The Hindu.

The team comprised an Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), three Range Forest Officers (RFOs) and four farmers representing Bharatiya Kisan Sangha (BKS).

S. Shantappa, Conservator of Forests, Mangalore Circle of the department told The Hindu that the proposal has been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife). The place for setting up such a centre under the circle has not been finalised. The proposal is in its preliminary stage, he said.

However, other sources in the department said that the department is planning to set up the centre on a ten acre land somewhere near Karkala in Udupi district.

It might require Rs. five crores for setting the centre. The State government is likely to reserve Rs. two crores for it in the 2011-12 Budget.

Monkeys are known for damaging arecanut, banana, tender coconut, cocoa, vegetables and other seasonal crops in the two districts. Though farmers have been trying different methods to keep them away the human-animal conflict has never come to an end.

A forest officer who was part of the team which visited Himachal Pradesh in August, 2010 said that there was no provision in the department to provide compensation to the crop loss caused by monkeys. The department has provision to provide compensation to crop loss caused by peacocks and other wild animals, he said.

The member said that there were three rescue and sterilisation centre for monkeys in Himachal Pradesh.

“We were told that wild life division of the forest department in Himachal Pradesh had sterilised 20,000 monkeys in the past three years,’’ he said.

Monkeys had been damaging prominently apples and vegetables and other crops in Himachal Pradesh. A monkey park set up there on 90 acres in 2000 proved a failure. Later the government there resorted to setting up sterilisation centres, he said.

The forest officer said that animal compassion will be borne in mind while sterilising them. Pregnant monkeys, such monkeys which have not even reproduced once will have to be spared from sterilisation.

He said that the team was satisfied over the sterilisation programme in Himachal Pradesh.

However, some media reports of 2008 available on the Internet on sterilisation programme in Himachal Pradesh said that some monkeys sterilised in 2007 had become pregnant.

A report quoted Lalit Mohan, the then conservator of forests (wildlife), Shimla admiting that there were some flaws in the sterilisation programme.

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