Monkey business

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Monkeys have become a menace for farmers and citizens alike. Now and then, voices of dissent are heard in the matter. The monkey nuisance has even become a political issue with various parties posing to be the saviours of farmers raising voice for effective measures to curb monkey menace. Every session the issue is talked in the Vidhan Sabha, with multiple legislatures debating on it. Only to find no effective results.

Even after being declared vermin by Government of India (Twice), attributed to the religious values never has a human deliberately killed a Monkey. Thereby leaving only a few solutions to curb the menace, of which sterilisation is most important. Reducing their population to a desired level could be the only wayout. However thirteen years of Monkey sterilization program have gone past (2006-2019). Yet effect achieved from the program is bare minimum. As per forest department data in 2004 there was a total population of 3.17lac monkeys in the state, which in 2019 as per departmental sources (Unofficial) remain at 2.50lac monkeys approximately. A reduction of merely 21% in simian population.

Experts say that the problem is with the irrational method being applied for the target setting exercise of simian sterilization. Working on such half baked strategy, the authorities would never be able to curb down this menace, they add. “The birth rate among monkeys is approximated at 22% per annum. Of the 22% around 7% is considered to be mortality rate. Leaving around 15% monkeys which are likely to play role in giving birth to new ones,” inform experts.  Talking in numbers if there are a total of 2.50lac monkeys, then those with potential to give birth in a year should be around 38 thousand, add experts.

Another factor is that out of the total monkeys caught for sterilization roughly 20% are repeat i.e those which have been already sterilised before. “So to compensate an extra 20% monkey need to be sterilized yearly basis to meet targets,” added experts.

In numbers if 38000 monkeys is the yearly target then additional 20% i.e 7600 monkeys also need to be caught to compensate the figure.

Clear from government data that average monkey being sterilized per annum are around 12 thousand state-wide. Thus letting loose another 33 thousand which have potential to give birth. Among the left over 33 thousand (considering half males and half females) if each female gives birth to 2 siblings, then yearly 32 thousand more monkeys get added to the population. Cumulative in since last 10 years, the population must have increased by 3.20lac.

The forest department data also shows that till date around 1.54lac monkeys have been sterilized. Only if those numbers could have been sterilized in a scientific manner, the menace should have been over now. It is obvious that if the number of simians has been declining so fast the nuisance they cause would not have increased to such an alarming extent that calls for drastic measures like killing, they added.

No wonder the forest department understands about the gap in their working methodology, which could be reason that no monkey population figures have been released publically after 2015.

Though the forest department website displays monthly data of monkey sterilization being done, but site does not provide figures about sterilization target per annum, already operated monkeys caught in the process and other such details. Clearly the sterilisation methodology needs correction or the simian population will continues to escalate with no solution.

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