Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reform School for Monkeys in Punjab, India

"A school for monkeys"
FOXNews (July 28, 2009)

"The Punjab government has sought clearance from the Central Zoo Authority to set up an ultra-modern facility to tame, rehabilitate and teach manners to rogue monkeys.

"The first-of-its-kind monkey school will provide inmates with medical care and good-behaviour training. 'In addition to veterinary doctors, the centre will have experts and it would be a sort of good manners school for the monkeys,' said a senior official of the Punjab Wildlife Department, on Friday.

" 'There have been several cases of monkey bites and the problem has reached such an alarming situation that every week there are one or two cases of monkey biting from across the district. This is why we have decided to build a rehabilitation centre adjacent to a mini zoo in Patiala. This will be the first such centre in the State,' Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab R.K. Luna said...."

Being an American, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind, reading the article was the question - had anyone read the macaques their rights?

Seriously, the Indian state of Punjab has around 50,000 monkeys sharing 50,362 square kilometers with about 24,359,000 people.1 ("243.59 Lakh for the year 2001" - which seems to be 243.59 x 100,000) About 10,000 monkeys live in Patiala - district or city, the article doesn't appear to make it clear which. Although I may have missed something.

Bottom line: you've got the equivalent of a square about 225 kilometers (roughly 140 miles) on a side that's home to upwards of 24,000,000 people and 50,000 monkeys.

That's upwards of 1,200 people per square mile, or a bit over 470 per square kilometer: if I got my numbers right. I live in central Minnesota, where the state averages about 65 people per square mile (or roughly 25 per square kilometer), and grew up in the Red River Valley of the North - so Punjab sounds crowded. Sort of like San Francisco, where I lived for a while (around 17,000 per square mile, or 6,600 per square kilometer)

Back to the Monkeys

The training program sounds like a humane solution to a the monkey issue in Punjab. Besides biting people, monkeys have done significant property damage, like wrecking television antennas, tearing down clothes lines, damaging scooters and motorcycles. And, they're accused of terrorizing children.

I suppose it would be possible to eradicate the macaques, but it would be nice to teach them how to get along with humans.

This news article is a pretty good look at how one state in India is dealing with the sort of problem we run into fairly often when people and, say, pigeons gather in large numbers.
A tip of the hat to FOXNews, for linking to this article in The Hindu.

1The contemporary Indian state of Punjab is on the Indian-Pakistan border. I'm aware that these two countries are far from being on the same page on many topics. ("India, Mumbai, and the Pakistan Connection: Following Facts" (December 31, 2008)) People in that part of the world have ancestors who saw Alexander III of Macedon come come through. (Most English-speaking people know him as Alexander the Great) I'm not going to try to sort out over 23 centuries of wrangling between people who have been living on land before the contemporary nation-states existed.

This post is about a sort of reform school for monkeys - a noteworthy effort.

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