The animal birth control (ABC) programme, which so far has focussed on stray dogs, could soon be extended to another adroit species that has become the subject of daily calls to the BBMP animal cell: monkeys.

A group of officials and veterinarians from the Forest Department will soon visit Himachal Pradesh to learn about that State’s population programme for monkeys and implement it here, Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Wildlife, told The Hindu. Thousands of animals have been sterilised in Himachal Pradesh to address the conflict between people and macaques, especially in orchards where they often feed on produce.

“We understand sterilisations can be done quickly and cheaply and they are a better way to manage monkey populations than relocating troops,” Mr. Luthra told The Hindu.

Bonnet macaques, a primate species found only in south India, now venture into the burgeoning urban jungle, scaling up the tallest apartments to dextrously filch anything from fruits to packaged food. A few days ago a pair was shot dead by residents of a Koramangala apartment complex.

A better option

Anindya Sinha, a primatologist with the National Institute for Advanced Studies, says the macaques are in fact declining in number in the city. “It could be not much more than a decade before bonnet macaques disappear from the city altogether.”

Sterilisation is however the best bet to control their numbers and a more practical option than translocation, he added. “Translocating monkeys essentially means transferring the problem somewhere else. You cannot put them in forests because they might carry disease that could spread to wildlife, so they would generally be released in villages, where they plague people there.”

Sterilising females, not males as is often done, is a more scientific and efficient approach, Dr. Sinha said.

‘Fast food’ for primates

Garbage management, especially in large apartment complexes, is key, believes Sharath Babu, a wildlife warden at BBMP Forest Cell. “Primates have gone from foraging to scavenging in houses, which now act as fast food joints for the primates. This is a dangerous habit, which needs to be curbed.”

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