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India's Solution To The Monkey Menace? Put 'Em On The Pill!

A monkey invades the field during a cricket match in Ahmedabad, India, in 2012.
Gareth Copley
Getty Images
A monkey invades the field during a cricket match in Ahmedabad, India, in 2012.

Officials in some of India's major cities, who have been fighting a losing battle to control troops of marauding monkeys who snatch food, chew Internet cables and romp through government buildings, have decided to take drastic action: They are putting them on the pill.

Or at least oral contraceptives are part of a strategy that also will involve outright sterilization of thousands of rhesus monkeys.

In case you're inclined to discount the seriousness of the problem, The Telegraph points out that in 2007, Delhi's Deputy Mayor S.S. Bajwa was killed when he fell from his balcony as he was trying to fight off a determined onslaught from the pesky primates.

"The population is increasing in the cities; they are causing a disturbance," said professor P.C. Tyagi of the Wildlife Institute of India. "People can't come out of their houses; they're taking clothes, biting people."

Monkeys even tried to spoil Vice President Joe Biden's photo op during a stop at the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi this summer.

The Telegraph reports that it's gotten worse in the past year since "monkey catchers" in the capital were forbidden from using black-faced langur monkeys to scare away the smaller macaques.

So, India's Central Zoo Authority, in collaboration with the National Primate Center in California, developed a strategy with the Wildlife Institute of India to use oral contraceptives, female sterilization and vasectomies.

A pilot project will be started in the northern state of Uttarakhand and "depending on its success we will scale it up in other states battling monkey menace," B.S. Bonal, member secretary of the Central Zoo Authority, told The Indian Express.

"While monkeys that can be captured are proposed to be sterilized, oral contraceptives mixed in food are being considered for roaming troops of monkeys," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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