Having demonstrated its success in mass-sterilisation of the monkeys—an effective option to control their population, Himachal Pradesh has received proposals from Sri Lanka, beside five Indian states and one Union Territory, Chandigarh seeking help in sterilisation of monkeys.
Since 2007, Himachal Pradesh’s wildlife department has has sterilised 94,334 monkeys. The success rate is almost 100 percent though its results in reducing monkey population will be visible in next 10 years, say state government officials.
Apart from neighouring states of Haryana and Uttrakhand, Karnata aslo has approached Himachal Pradesh seeking help. Sikkim wants to send its team to Himachal Pradesh to get its personnel trained in sterilisation while Delhi has asked for transfer of technology .
Union Territory of Chandigarh has written asking if wildlife department was ready to sterilise monkeys in Chandigarh and return them after surgical precisions done in Himachal at nearest places like Una.
“What made us (wildlife wing) feel happy was communication from the Sri Lankan government. The country wants to know the technology and also help to train its veterinary scientists. We have responded to all the states and to Sri Lanka as well”, state’s additional Chief Secretary (Forest and Wildlife) Tarun Shridhar confirmed.
As a step further, the wildlife department will raise the number of sterilisation centres to nine from existing seven and have also identified hot-spots (monkey concentration areas), where special mobile sterilisation vans will be sent for on-the-spot sterilisations. This is the second best option being exercised by the government after state High Court had partially stayed the shooting of the monkeys by the farmers. Till now, the state government has spent Rs 12 crore on sterilisation programme.
“We have given data of the crop losses to the High Court to seek relaxation of the ban on shooting of monkeys. While scientific culling remains world’s best option to reduce monkey population. The state government is doing to its best to use other viable options. The centre has been approached to seek lifting of the ban on export of monkeys for bio-medical search and declare monkeys as vermin to enable their selective killing,” said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Loss to the agriculture crops is around Rs184.28 cr per annum while horticulture loss are Rs 150.10 crores.
The state government is exploring an option to test oral contraceptives on monkeys as population control measure. However, before this could be adopted, the department has decided to seek feedback from the Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, Himachal Pradesh agriculture university Palampur, animal husbandry department and other related agencies.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to start a joint search project with primate research centre of University of Californian (Devos) to do a study on monkey behaviour and also diseases on the simians. The experts have been asked to survey if the diseases acquired by monkeys have any affect on the human population. Also, if there is a change in the behavior of monkeys over the areas at different places.
Forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said “We are taking help of all national and international agencies to see that monkeys co-exist with human population and d’nt pose any threat”.
There are six districts in the state which are worst affected by monkeys. These include Shimla, Kangra, Mandi, Bilaspur, Chamba and Sirmaur. The population of monkeys was around 3.19 lakhs in 2004, which was found to be 2.17 lakhs in 2013. But officials say “2.17 lakh figures is bit doubtful”.
Asked about use of ultrasonic vibrations to scare monkeys in Shimla—a trial already done, Shridhar said “The results will be analyzed for further experiments. The government is open to every suggestion which helps in tackling the menace”.