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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Aping an Ape .... keeping monkeys at bay - human langurs at work

Interruptions in a Cricket match can arise due to host of reasons – ranging from – wet spots, bees swarming, ball getting out of shape, players injury, rain, bad light and even lightning ....  spectator running into the file (streaking included !) – and animal invasion too....... at Chepauk – have seen dogs running helter-skelter – entire stadium would laugh when the marker could not catch the stray dog – with play suspended briefly.  I had posted on a strange incident in Nov 2012 when England toured India and were playing a match for acclamitising  - the stoppage was due to simian invasion - a langur monkey,  running across the pitch, hampering the game and making its way off being attracted  by another female monkey on the boundary edge.

The noun ‘Monkey Business’ would mean :  Silly, mischievous, or deceitful acts or behavior.  The word ‘Ape’ means any of various large, tailless primates or in general a monkey.  It would also mean a mimic or imitator.  Aping would mean slavishly but often with an absurd result.  What would ‘Aping an ape’ mean ?????

Monkeys often cause trouble, tormenting people and then can be quite fearsome – the other day while ascending Sholinghur temple was scared beyond a point with hundreds of monkeys chasing pilgrims and snatching any eatable / baggage they had.  At places, where simian menace is at its height, some turn it to an opportunity by becoming trained monkey catchers.  Miles away in the Nouradehi forest division's Mohali range – people trap monkeys and release them in the wild, where ample natural food is available for them. Reportedly they charge over Rs.1000 per monkey besides allowance for travel too. 

An advisory issued by a Govt Dept read :  Do not make direct eye contact with monkeys;  Do not cross the path between a mother and her infant; do not tease them; be light footed while passing through a monkey group – should not run; do not go near a dead or wounded monkey; do not ever hit any monkey – one should only hit the ground with bamboo.... there is perhaps better method of dealing with them ‘the monkey way’.........

Gray langurs or Hanuman langurs, are a group of genus Semnopithecus – widespread in South Asia. Gray langurs are large and fairly terrestrial, inhabiting forest, open lightly wooded habitats, and urban areas on the Indian subcontinent. They are a protected species,  and in 2012 Govt told departments and agencies that langurs are covered by India’s Wildlife Protection Act, and that people who own, trade or hire out langurs face up to three years in jail ~ that has placed people and Parliament in a fix !!

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had to cancel contracts with around 30 langur men, who were paid about 10,000 rupees a month – yes they had been employed to keep monkeys at bay... Delhi as is some other areas is infested with monkeys. Grey or Hanuman langur is the natural enemy of the monkey.  They were used in a big way in Delhi, especially in Parliament in a big sprawling buildings – to scare and keep the monkeys away ......... but now the Govt orders has put them in a bind forcing the Parliament security to be taken to new levels, raising a new contingent of forces.

In an ingenuous attempt, 40 young men “impersonating” as langurs are utilised to protect our public representatives from the troops of monkeys that terrorise Members of Parliament and officials inside Parliament House, and other important buildings like the Supreme Court in the New Delhi area of the national capital, as reported in various newspapers. Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu told the Rajya Sabha that New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has hired “40 young” people for the purpose of scaring away monkeys. In a reply to a question from Bahujan Samaj Party MP Ambeth Rajan, Naidu said the 40 men were “trained persons who disguise themselves as langurs”. Naidu also told Rajyasabha  that NDMC has acquired "Sure Shot" rubber bullet guns for scaring away the monkeys.

However officials are quoted as stating that men merely "mimic langurs to frighten the monkeys away". – as  langurs cannot be held in captivity and cannot be used. According to a Times of India report when called to a spot where monkeys are running wild, these man-langurs "suddenly appear from behind bushes and trees to drive away the simians through sounds and gestures". -  the human-langurs have been every effective, adds the report. ........... and how much does a human-langur get? "Around Rs 700-800 per 'visit'" and "get work for around 10-15 days a month, earning anywhere between Rs 7000 to 10,000", says the report.In another strategy to keep monkeys within the forested areas, NDMC has started paying Rs 1.2 lakh every month to the forest department for procuring food for the animals. "The department places chickpeas, vegetables and fruits at different spots in the ridge on S P Marg ’.

Monkey Business (1952) is a comedy film directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, and Marilyn Monroe. To avoid confusion with the famous 1931 Marx Brothers movie of the same name, this film is sometimes referred to as Howard Hawks' Monkey Business.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Aug 2014.

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