Kerala

In Wayanad, monkeys hold sway

The last proposal was to relocate them to islets in Banasurasagar

The increasing population of monkeys is a major concern in the urban areas of Wayanad district. They invade houses and destroy crops, complain harried residents. “We cannot grow any plants on the premises. As soon as they sprout, the monkeys would destroy them,” A. George, a resident of Kalpetta municipality says, adding that the simian population has increased manifold in a few years.

Often the intruders come in through ventilators or by breaking tiled roofs. They destroy utensils, tear up clothes hung on clothlines, destroy beds and pillows, and flee with food from kitchen shelves. The situation is not different in other parts of the district, including Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery municipalities.

The Forest Department had prepared a project in 2013 to sterilise the primate population in the municipal area with the assistance of veterinary experts from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) and the Kalpetta municipality. But, the project did not take off owing to alleged laxity on the part of the municipal authorities and the Forest Department.

KFD threat

The department had planned to set up traps in 12 sites. The municipality had earmarked ₹5 lakh for the purpose and the department had set up a laboratory at a cost of ₹7 lakh at Lakkidi. Delay in fund allocation and shortage of workers to trap monkeys after the outbreak of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD or Monkey Fever) in the district affected the project.

Later, the District Animal Husbandry Department took up the project, but it was a futile attempt owing to lack of technical staff and power connection to the laboratory.

Proposal shot down

Finally the Forest Department submitted a report to the Chief Wildlife Warden a few months ago to sterilise the primates and relocate them to the small islets formed inside the Banasurasagar reservoir under the department. But the proposal was rejected on the ground that the reservoir was also major a source of drinking water schemes for many grama panchayats in the district. Zoonotic diseases like the KFD that might break out among the simian population would harm the public. Now the Forest Department is trying to find out another location for the operation.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 11:15:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/in-wayanad-monkeys-hold-sway/article30832297.ece

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