Anjali begins her duty early in the morning after a frugal breakfast of some fruits and vegetables. Every day she along with her owner circles government and private colonies till late in the day scaring away monkeys. Anjali, much like her colleagues working in other parts of the Capital, is engaged without any day-offs, no sick leave or any retirement benefits.
Her handler, Aftab (name changed on request), engaged in one of the government buildings says: “I bought Anjali (langur) from my friend and she earns almost Rs.10,000 for 20 working days. I look after her well and also give her adequate rest. Because of the monkey menace in Central Delhi, we are often engaged all days of the month and there are hardly any breaks/holidays, except on festival days. I, however ensure that my langur gets some rest in the afternoon each day. As far as her medical check-ups etc. are concerned, I take care of any minor ailments that she has.”
Anjali’s owner, however, claims not to be aware of any ban on capturing and using langurs for commercial or personal use. “Even government official call us for work and we operate in several government colonies/residential complex so where is the question of ban. This is our livelihood and we look after our animals very well. There is no form of any ill treatment,” he adds.
Though the langur owners working in and around Delhi claim to be ignorant about any ban on the use of the animals, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972), acting on complaints that some Government Ministries had hired the services of langurs for the security of the their buildings, had issued a notice asking them to stop the practice.
“Langur is listed under Schedule-II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and it cannot be owned, traded or hired. Contravention of the provisions of the Act carries punishment up to three years of imprisonment or fine or both. For any violation, besides the handlers, the officer of the Ministry responsible for hiring the services of the animals will be deemed to have contravened the provisions of the Act and is liable for prosecution under Section 52 of the Act,” said a senior official in the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
He added that orders were issued last year itself asking Ministries to remove any langurs hired from service immediately. “These animals are to be handed over to the chief wildlife warden of the Delhi Government,” he noted.