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News 22 Oct 07
Indian capital can't cope with monkey menace, mayor says
The mayor of the Indian capital said Monday that authorities could not deal with the scourge of violent monkeys, blamed for the death of a top city official over the weekend.
The danger posed by the estimated 10,000 monkeys that roam the city was brought home sharply on Sunday when deputy mayor S.S. Bajwa, 52, died after falling from his apartment while fighting a horde of wild simians.
"We have neither the expertise nor the infrastructure to deal with the situation," said Delhi's mayor Aarti Mehra, amid a barrage of criticism.
If the animals are caught, "we are under pressure to release them due to pressure from animal activists and from people due to religious reasons," Mehra said.
Culling is unacceptable to Hindus who revere the monkeys as a living link to the deity Hanuman, a monkey god who symbolises strength.
The animals routinely invade parliament, ministries, courts and government offices.
In May, federal lawmakers demanded protection from the marauding simians, which have even broken into the complex that houses Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office.
Several city residential districts petitioned local courts in 2001 to initiate steps to make New Delhi "monkey-free."
But primatologist Iqbal Malik said local authorities have failed to take action.
"I was first approached by the authorities in 1987 when I drew up a plan to relocate the monkeys," she told AFP. "But all that the authorities have done is listen."
Activist Kartick Satyanarayanan, who heads Wildlife SOS, said the problem was due to the "constant erosion" of the animal's natural habitat.
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