Thiruvananthapuram

Where monkeys are a poll issue

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Monkey menace in at least three wards of Anad panchayat

A mandate to keep monkeys at bay is the campaign catchphrase of candidates of all hues in at least three wards in Anad grama panchayat on the outskirts of the capital.

For the past five years, large troops of marauding wild monkeys have periodically terrorised residents in the verdant agrarian suburbs of Vettampally, Thanimoodu and Thiruchitoor villages in Nedumangadu taluk. S. Shiju, former Thiruchitoor ward member, says the worrying man-animal conflict is at the heart of electoral politics in the region.

Voters invariably confront candidates with uprooted tapioca plants, half-eaten banana flowers, ripped-open coconuts, and displaced roof tiles.

Seeking compensation

They demand compensation for their agricultural losses and the capture and relocation of the monkey population.

S. Sajith, a local resident, says that monkeys often upend the daily life of families.

They excrete into wells, break into houses, raid kitchens, soil bedspreads, and break clotheslines and television cables. Residents have found dead monkeys in their homes. Mothers are loath to let children out when the monkeys come raiding. Few residents have had to take anti-rabies and tetanus shots after stumbling on internecine monkey fights and getting attacked in the melee.

Various reasons

Saji Palode, a wildlife photographer, says environmental degradation and, partly religion, has caused the conflict. Three forested rock formations overlooking the wards are home to an estimated 200 bonnet macaques. Granite quarrying had forced some to forage in nearby human habitations. One of the 200-m high rocks became a pilgrimage centre of late. Visitors fed the monkeys who soon developed a taste for cooked food.

Moving Lok Ayukta

The residents had moved the Lok Ayukta to solve the issue. Consequently, the Forest Department trapped and relocated a few. The electorate has now demanded that the grama panchayat capture monkeys with help of the Forest Department and sterilise them. Most residents feel that it was the only humane solution to control the monkey population.



Voters confront candidates with uprooted tapioca plants, half-eaten banana flowers, ripped-open coconuts, and displaced roof tiles.



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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:31:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/where-monkeys-are-a-poll-issue/article7817022.ece

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