Updated: March 20, 2016 9:38:14 pm
THE STATE government has, in a proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), sought the Centre’s intervention to declare monkeys as vermin so as to allow their selective killing in hotspot areas.
At least seven tehsils in Kangra district, five each in Una, Bilaspus and Sirmaur, are among 39 tehsils in the state’s 10 of 12 districts that have been identified as monkey hotspots — where the concentration of the simians is very high.
Barring Mandi district, where only one tehsil i.e. Sundernagar has been identified as monkey hotspot, Shimla and Chamba have four each and Kullu three, which also include popular tourists destination of Manali besides Sainj and Kullu.
The state’s communication was sent on March 14, 2016 after the issue was raised in the state assembly.
While the government in the proposal detailed the steps, including sterilization of monkeys since 2007, taken so far, it also tried to convince the Centre that every year agriculture crops worth Rs 184.28 crore were destroyed by the monkeys. They also destroyed horticulture crop worth Rs 150.10 crore as per the 2014 studies.
As per the data complied by the wildlife department, there has been a rise in monkey attacks on human beings — from 18 in 2007 to 402 in 2011.
The highest number of monkey attacks — 513 — was reported in 2013-2014.
The proposal also adds: “Since the government has exhausted all possible deterrents, yet the problem is still alarming, which calls for considering the request to declare Rhesus macaque ( Monkeys) as vermins under Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, initially for a period of one year and only in the selected hotspot tehsils.”
Earlier in May 2015, the MoEF had declined Himachal Pradesh government request to declare monkeys vermin till a proper census was conducted to identify hotspots. The government informed the MoEF that a survey of the monkey population has been done in July 2015.
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