A team visited Himachal Pradesh to study the working of such a centre

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

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

The proposal had been mooted after a team of Forest Department officials of the circle and farmers visited Himachal Pradesh four months ago to study how such centres functioned, 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 had been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife). The place for setting up such a centre under the circle had not been finalised. The proposal was in its preliminary stage, he said.

However, other sources in the department said the department had been planning to set up the centre on a 10-acre plot near Karkala in Udupi district. While the cost of setting up the centre is estimated at Rs. 5 crore, the State Government is likely to reserve Rs. 2 crore for it in the 2011-12 Budget.

Monkeys are a menace in arecanut, banana, tender coconut, cocoa plantations and also there were reports of them destroying vegetables and other seasonal crops in the two districts.

Although farmers had been trying different methods to keep the simians away, their efforts had proved futile.

A forest officer who was part of the team which visited Himachal Pradesh in August, 2010, said there was no provision in the department to provide compensation to the crop loss caused by monkeys. The department had provision to provide compensation to crop loss caused by peacocks and other wild animals, he said. The member said there were three rescue and sterilisation centres for monkeys in Himachal Pradesh.

“We were told that wildlife 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 of land in the year 2000 proved a failure. Later the Government there resorted to setting up sterilisation centres, he said.

The Forest Department officials said that animal compassion would be borne in mind while sterilising them. Pregnant monkeys and those that had not reproduced even once would be excluded from sterilisation. He said that the team was satisfied with the efficacy of the sterilisation programme in Himachal Pradesh.

However, there were reports in the media that the sterilisation programme in Himachal Pradesh had failed as monkeys that were supposed to have been sterilised in 2007 had become pregnant. A report quoted Lalit Mohan, the then Conservator of Forests (wildlife), Shimla, admitting that there were some flaws in the sterilisation programme.

  • Monkeys damage arecanut, banana, tender coconut, cocoa and vegetables
  • In Himachal Pradesh, 20,000 monkeys have been sterilised in past three years