Fearing that the establishment of a monkey park near human habitation may trigger diseases similar to Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), the residents of Nittur Gram Panchayat in Hosanagar taluk have opposed it and plan to resist if the government does not drop its plan.
The State government recently passed an order on establishing a monkey park in Shivamogga district to address the monkey menace. Following this, a team of officials from Revenue and Survey, Settlements and Land Records departments conducted a survey at Nagodi village in Nittur GP limits for establishing the park there. The team found 150 acres of unused government land at Survey Number 305 near Nagodi suitable for the proposed park.
The residents expressed apprehension about the park at a special Gram Sabha of Nittur GP last Friday. Srikanth, a farmer from Nagodi, told The Hindu that the place identified for the monkey park was 500 metres from the closest human settlement. As the villages here are in the forest fringe area, and are thereby vulnerable to KFD, a viral infection transmitted from monkeys to humans through tick bite, there is fear that establishing a monkey park will make them more susceptible to the disease. They also fear that apart from KFD, other infections may spread with the confinement of a large number of monkeys near human dwellings. In 2018-19, 12 persons died owing to KFD in Shivamogga district. As many as 341 KFD cases were reported there during this period.
Subrahmanya Bhat, a farmer from Nagodi, said that though the locals are not opposed to the idea of a monkey park, because they have suffered heavy losses owing to primates raiding their crops frequently, they do not want a monkey park set up near human habitation. Moreover, prior to conducting the survey, the residents were not taken into confidence. He said the State government should take a call on the issue after consulting with medical and veterinary experts, virologists and entomologists. The impact of establishing a monkey park on the wild and domesticated animals in the vicinity should also be studied, he added.
Sridharamurthy, tahsildar of Hosanagar, said that the survey was conducted on the direction of the government. He said the government would be apprised on the opinion of the people.