India Hires Monkey Mimics to Scare Off Monkeys, Mankind

The Indian Parliament is no longer monkeying around.

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The Indian Parliament is no longer monkeying around.

After years of rhesus macaque monkeys menacing New Delhi's government buildings, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation has hired 40 men to impersonate the langur monkey, a larger species, to scare the rhesus monkeys away. The men will cry like the monkeys and threaten the cheeky trespassers.

"Various efforts are being made to tackle the monkey and dog menace inside and around the parliament house," India's Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu told parliament on Thursday. "The measures include scaring the monkeys away by trained persons who disguise themselves as langurs."

For reference, this is a langur monkey:

Poised. (REUTERS/Amit Dave)

And these are rhesus monkeys clambering onto the gate of the Presidential Palace:

You know the one on the right's going to steal that star. (AP/Gurinder Osan)

The scarers, however, won't be dressing up as langurs.

"These men who are village performers and some of them have played monkeys on stage," PK Sharma, the chief health officer for the NDMC, told The Guardian. "So they mimic the sound of the langur and it scares the smaller, red-faced macaques away."

The monkey menace has targeted the city's government buildings for years, and are more than capable of passing through security as they travel in groups, cheerfully attacking officials and destroying files with abandon. Outside the buildings, the monkeys ride on the city's metro trains and roam public spaces.

Their presence has also caused serious accidents. In 2007, a deputy mayor died after falling off a terrace during a monkey attack at his home. And because the country's Wildlife Protection act of 1972 prevents langurs from being owned, sold, or hired out, humans must be used instead.

Even so, some say mimicking the monkeys will do little to deter them.

"We are wasting money by training humans to scare away monkeys," MP Ambeth Rajan told the Business Standard. "The simians should be caught and released in a jungle."

The NDMC, however, said they do capture and release them in the wild, but monkeys inevitably return to the city in search of food. And according to Sharma, the next step would be to pelt them with rubber bullets until they learn not to enter government buildings.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.