Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Monkey menace in Darjeeling poses serious threat

Darjeeling, Oct 3 (UNI) The sudden growth in population of monkeys in West Bengal's most popular hill resort has posed a serious threat to not only the people but also the administration.To combat this menace, the administration has held several meetings with various educational institutions, the general public, NGOs and wildlife division of the Forest department but has failed to derive any solution.District Forest Officer of the Wildlife division Sunita Ghatak held discussions with the administration and NGOs in this connection here yesterday.It was pointed out in the meeting that the monkey menace was not a new thing here, particularly in the Mal area of the Chowrasta, considering the fact that the natural habitat of the monkeys is the Mahakal Shrine atop the Mal.There had been several incidents of biting, food snatching and terrorising of children by these monkeys in the past, but any deterrent action against them by the authorities had been foiled by the animal rights society.Consequently, the monkey population grew to such an extent that it posed serious threat to students of the Loreto Girls College, located just below the Mahakal Shrine, the Central School for Tibetans, the people residing in the Bhotia colony.Earlier, cages were set up to trap the monkeys but had to be withdrawn due to protests by animal lovers.They protested such actions on the grounds that monkeys had been included in Schedule-3 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and International Union for Nature Conservation.However, the wildlife division obtained special permission from the higher authorities to combat the growing monkey menace in Darjeeling.Ms Ghatak said they would place the cages at various places around the Mal and town areas as well as the Loreto College Complex.The caged monkeys would then be sterilised by injections and later released in the remote forest areas away from the town.Sterilisation was essential to check the monkey menace, she added.However, the reaction of the animal lovers society as well as Ms Maneka Gandhi, who earlier opposed any action against monkeys, was yet to be seen.