Tamil Nadu

Youth show the way in caring for animals

A godsend: Volunteers feeding muskmelon to monkeys at Theerthamalai on Friday.

A godsend: Volunteers feeding muskmelon to monkeys at Theerthamalai on Friday.  

A group pools money and feeds the monkeys of Theerthamalai; a farmer too chips in

At a time when pets are being abandoned in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, a village near a pilgrimage site in Dharmapuri district is showing the way to care for animals.

The people of the village are doing it for the monkeys of Theerthamalai. A group of youth, supported by a largely caring society, has been diligently feeding the simians of Theerthamalai for a week now.

Theerthamalai hosts the famous Theerthagireeshwarar temple, which on an ordinary day, sees a turnout of 1,000 pilgrims. A week ago, the temple was closed. With the temple shut and the pilgrims, who fed the monkeys barred entry, hundreds of simians were facing starvation as devotees used to give them fruits.

Namadhu Theerthamalai, a group of local youth, started purchasing fruits for the monkeys. The group has been pooling in their meagre savings to purchase fruits from shops at discounted prices since Saturday. ““The monkeys were facing starvation having got used to regular supply of food, water, fruits and puffed rice from the pilgrims. The shops were looking at a loss with an imminent shutdown. We went ahead and bought apples and tomatoes for the monkeys from fruit stalls,” says Udhaya Kumar of Namadhu Theerthamalai. Soon, Udhaya Kumar and his friends reached out to farmers who were looking at fresh harvests that were unlikely to reach the market.

Karthik, a 28-year-old farmer of the neighbouring Kurumpatty village, offered muskmelon to feed monkeys. He gave away 500 kg of muskmelon, a part of an acre of his total three-acre harvest. “Karthik gave us some seven sacks of muskmelons and he joined us in the feeding sessions,” says Mr. Kumar.

For Mr. Karthik, that was the right thing to do. “I had one acre of muskmelon harvest left. This was the best thing to do, to feed the monkeys. I also distributed some to the houses in our village that was all locked up due to the curfew,” says Karthik.

This week, each day, the group went up Theerthamalai, lugging cartons of muskmelon, stopped at every stretch, and laid out the neatly cut fruits for the monkeys. They fed the monkeys to their heart’s content. For now, Mr. Kumar is glad that they have enough fruits for Saturday. “From Sunday, we’ll find a way to feed them,” he says.

Every now and then, there is an occasional visitor from the foot of Theerthamalai hill, who climbs up with curd rice cooked to feed an unknown monkey of Theerthamalai.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 7:25:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/youth-show-the-way-in-caring-for-animals/article31187194.ece

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