How to catch a monkey: Karnataka Forest Department comes out with SOP

Karnataka High Court directs government to implement them in letter and spirit

August 24, 2022 11:46 pm | Updated August 25, 2022 05:25 pm IST - Bengaluru

The SOP was formulated by a technical expert committee (TEC) formed by the Forest Department following a direction by the High Court of Karnataka.

The SOP was formulated by a technical expert committee (TEC) formed by the Forest Department following a direction by the High Court of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: DEEPAK KR

The Forest Department has issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to capture, translocate, release, and rehabilitate monkeys as well as for protection of the animal in conflict with human in both urban and rural areas across the State.

The SOP was formulated by a technical expert committee (TEC) formed by the department following a direction issued by the High Court of Karnataka in a PIL petition, filed by advocate B.S. Radhanandan of Bengaluru, to the government to tackle monkey menace and protect Bonnet Macaque species of monkeys from the hands of unauthorised capturers.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty, which took note of the SOP, has disposed of the petition by directing the State government to enforce the SOP in letter and spirit.

The SOP was prepared by the TEC comprising Mewa Singh, a primatologist and ethologist of Institute of Excellence, University of Mysore, H.N. Kumara, Principal Scientist-Conservation and Biology, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, and the Chief Wildlife Warden.

Complaints on monkey menace in writing can be made directly to the jurisdictional forest office or through the offices of all the local bodies, or through the FD helpline number 1526 and helpline numbers of the local bodies.

SOP Highlights
Monkeys to be captured by a team of trained staff of Forest Department headed by a deputy RFO and comprising representatives of local bodies, and a veterinarian.
Existing traditional capturing practices/skills to be used till formulation of alternative scientific techniques
Tools like walk-in cages, throw nets, blow pipes (when darting absolutely necessary, and transportation cages can be used
Monkeys captured in urban areas should not be released in habitats having risk of spreading acquired pathogens to other wildlife species
Monitoring behaviour of translocated monkeys in collaboration with institutions/researchers/volunteers

Jurisdictional Range Forest Officer, on verification of complaint including through filed inspection, will submit report to the higher officers to seek necessary order for capture, release, etc.

While permission can be granted immediately in emergency situation like monkey entering an apartment or household or monkey requiring urgent veterinary care due to injury, the SOP says in other cases RFO requires to examine radius of conflict zone, nature of conflict, species of monkey, their group size, previous instances of conflict or capture, etc. A committee comprising experts, volunteers, NGOs also can be set up to study the nature of local conflict.

The Chief Conservator or Conservator of Forests can grant or refuse permission for capture, translocate, or rehabilitation based on the report, the SOP states.

In case of urban areas, the SOP states that local bodies having severe conflict issues have to develop monkey rescue and rehabilitation centres in collaboration with FD and provide land, infrastructure and financial assistance.

In rescue centres facility to be developed for sterilization of monkeys and post-surgery care to control population in the long run.

Causes of conflict

Cause for monkey menace in Bengaluru and other urban areas, as per SOP, is because of fast urbanisation and adequate availability of food in garbage, waste dumps, and feeding of monkeys by the public. While pointing out that provisioning at temples or tourist sites also increased cohabitation with human resulting in a conflict situation, SOP states that conflict in rural areas is mainly in the form of crop foraging.

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