Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 update from Vatavaran Trust

On 10th of March 2008, Vatavaran’s writ petition in the Delhi High Court on management of monkeys of human habitation areas was heard. It was an appeal to the court.

In spite of providing the detailed plans about the monkey sanctuary, to the chief minister’s office on 22nd Jan 2007 and to the secretary (environment), Govt. of NCT Delhi on 25th Feb.2007-[as was asked for], the so called monkey sanctuary at Bhatti side of Asola Bhatti wild life sanctuary, defied each and every requirement.

The plans given had essential details for monkey proof fencing but the non monkey proof fence made by the flood department is resulting in monkeys biting the poor villagers.

As the case has been disposed off by the High Court of Delhi, probably because we intervened too late, our only hope is Supreme Court of India now. If it takes up the case, Monkey Sanctuary in Bhatti area of Asola Bhatti Sanctuary can be of help to commensal monkeys, eradicate unemployment of the villagers and generate revenue.

The first correction has to be making the fence monkey proof . Only materials needed are iron angles, mesh wire netting and PVC sheeting. The iron angles forming the posts should be five meters high. Number of posts will be total area divided by 5 and for each post two planks are needed.

First the posts are fixed, one meter below the ground level and rest above. Next is fixing /welding or of mesh wire netting to the posts. Third step is fixing / welding two planks, on the inner, upper side of each of the posts, at an angle. The upper plank is fixed one meter from the top of the post, because of its angle , its upper end is between ½ to ¾ of a meter above the post. The second plank is almost a meter below and parallel to the first one. The fourth step is to fix PVC sheeting to the planks. It is soft , transparent and one and a half meter wide. As the sheet is on the inner side and hanging loose from the planks monkeys cannot climb it. Thus without caging, the monkeys are restrained.

The second important aspect is the non involvement of the inhabitants of Bhatti village. Since 1994, when Delhi Ridge was declared a reserve forest, I have been of the opinion that villages included in the Asola Bhatti sanctuary should not be evacuated, but given the responsibity to look after the sanctuary. The basic idea behind the monkey sanctuary being on Bhatti side of the sanctuary was to first provide employment to villagers and later if monkey sanctuary becomes a tourist spot, provide opportunities for the villagers to set up a eco bazaar.

Let me now talk about greening of the monkey sanctuary. A list of 40 trees and 40 smaller plants are part of the plans submitted. On my last visit [more about that later] I saw a nursery, not of the plants suggested and badly managed.
As the area does not have food trees of monkeys, contract for food is with some one , not disclosed and it comes from Azad Vegetable market and Government ration shops - Kendriya Bhandars. I saw vegetables , sugarcane and grains in heaps on the ground. Not only the food is wasted but also there is no foraging involved.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

CPCSEA & PrimateEstate: Part 1

Bringing Tranparency to Monkey Matters: Part 1

CPCSEA (committee to control and supervise experiments on animals) is a government
body , constituted under an act of Parliament and for any experiment its sanction is a must. CPCSEA has never decided that monkeys must not be used for experiments, its rules only say that experimental animals should be procured from a registered breeder or from alternative legal sources within the country.

In its 17th meeting held in Feb. 2007 though it has approved the use of commensal monkeys for experiments it has not banned the use of forest monkeys for the same.

Recently Government of India has proposed to permit contract Animal Experiments by a registered establishment on behalf of any other agency observing the provisions of PCA act 1960.

The prominent Centers of Primate research in India are:

  • Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow
  • AIIMS, Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
  • National Institute of Virology, Pune
  • National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad
  • Institute for Research on Reproduction, Mumbai
    Areas of Research

    • Fundamental Research
    • Vaccine Research
    • Reproductive Research
    • Infectious Diseases Testing and Monitoring

    Till a ban on the use of monkeys for lab experiments can be brought about , Vatavaran feels that transparency be brought about in the system and the lay out plan of Vatavaran Primate Estate does just that.

    (continued in Part 2)

    CPCSEA & PrimateEstate: Part 2

    recommended trees
    Common and botanical names of the 44 trees recommended for Primate Estate at Bhatti Sanctuary

    polyalthia longifolia

    ficus benghalensis

    ficus racemosa

    ficus microcarpa

    ficus virens

    ficus religiosa

    anogeissus pendula

    acacia catechu

    acacia modesta

    acacia leucophloea

    acacia nilotica

    bombax ceiba

    bauhinia purpurea

    bauhinia variegata

    butea monosperma

    balanites roxburghii

    salvadora persica

    capparis decidua

    kala siris
    albizia odoratissima

    boswellia serzata

    murraya paniculata

    tamarindus indica

    dalbergia sissoo

    pithecellobium dulce

    schleichera oleosa

    manilkara hexandra

    drypetes roxburghii

    diospyros cordifolia

    ehretia laevis

    cassia fistula

    cordia gharaf

    mitragyna parviflora

    maytenus senegalensis

    gmelina arborea

    (continued in Part 3)

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    Primates in Delhi Part II: The Vatavaran Trust Solution

    The Vatavaran Primate Procession is the path that we shall follow in order to realise our goal of a monkey sanctuary, The Vatavaran Primate Estate, by means of a series of crossmedia intervention and events.

    A team of Vatavaran experts, specialists from various fields, and volunteers will be involved in this process.

    The Primate Procession aims to create awareness about the monkey problem as well as its proposed solution, and concurrently raise support and funds in order to achieve this
    solution and provide an end to the ongoing monkey crisis.

    for more information:

    Primates in Delhi Part I: The Challenge

    A letter to Ms.Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister, Delhi

    To: Ms. Sheila Dikshit, chief minister, delhi

    Subject: Monkey Sanctuary in Asola Bhati Sanctuary

    Dear Madam

    We would like to offer our services for the management of monkeys in the human habitation areas of Delhi.

    According to our studies the five problems with the existing system are:

    1. the menace created by monkeys

    2. bringing in langurs to disperse them

    3. wrong methods of trapping

    4. confining them in a cage in Rajokri

    5. releasing them any where –if ever!

    Vatavaran has a model to over come all of this. Our model requires participation by the Government, people at large and teams of experts.

    The Government’s immediate role would be to allocate part of the Asola Bhatti sanctuary, for the creation of a Primate Estate. The area required is only 25 acres. Land near the hanuman temple located in the sanctuary would be ideal.

    People’s role would be to contribute towards the making the sanctuary. Funds will be raised from corporate houses, religious bodies and people at large.

    Vatavaran’s role would be to undertake awareness and fundraising campaigns, contact experts for technical support and involve the best monkey sanctuaries of the world in creating this Primate Estate.

    A more detailed package with project information will be delivered to your office on Monday, 22.01.07.

    We request you to allocate 25 acres in the Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary, near the temple, and obligue the people and monkeys of Delhi.

    Thanking you,
    Dr. Iqbal Malik, Ph.D.

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Vatavaran Trust announces new programs to protect primates


    At present there are approximately 6000 monkeys in Delhi and 75% of them are in human habitation areas. Langurs brought in since 20000 have aggravated the monkey menace. The monkey cage at Rajokri is a small cage not conducive for monkeys and according to official records 200-250 monkeys can be kept there, leave alone 2000 that must be removed from Delhi immediately.

    Vatavaran intends to undertake an awareness/fundraising campaign, Vatavaran Primate Procession with the goal of garnering public suppourt and funding in order to set up the monkey sanctuary Vatavaran Primate Estate in India. This campaign will consist of three phases as described below.

    phase 1
    Awareness and Fundraising efforts using print based and local level efforts in public sphere spaces such as colleges etc.

    phase 2
    Seminars, discussions, meetings and other larger scale public events to gather support for the cause.

    phase 3
    Inclusion of electronic (TV , radio) and web media into the campaign.
    The expected time period is approximately one year, however based on the response from the Delhi Chief Minister and Rajasthan Chief Minister and support generated from corporate houses and religious bodies, making of the sanctuary can start concurrently.
    Due to lack of government support where funds are concerned Vatavaran plans on contacting corporate houses, religious bodies amnd the public at large. IPPL USA and UK have already agreed to contribute for the first phase of the awareness campaign.

    25 acres of land near the Hanuman mandir of Asola Wildlife Sanctuary has been identified for Vatavaran Primate Estate. A reply from the government is awaited

    The Vatavaran Primate Estate

    vatavaran primate estate

    The Estate would be a sanctuary for monkeys, set up in their natural habitat. It will have a total area of 25 acres , 75% of which would stay unaltered, in the natural way and the built area would not exceed 3%.

    Vatavaran primate estate would be an eco friendly place in absolute terms. All construction would be in harmony with the natural habitat and only local materials would be used. Soak ways, septic tanks, pit for biodegradable, rainwater harvesting and use of photovoltaic energy would be integrated into the infrastructure.

    The territory would be designed in away that animals of all hierarchies feel comfortable there. Overhead runs and pathways would interconnect the facilities. There would be "crush cages" at strategic points.

    All major facilities would have double doors for people to come in and out of them.

    High standards of personal hygiene would be ensured for all primate keepers to avoid any zoonotic infections.

    The nutritional content of the diet for the monkeys would be as close as possible to that of their diet in the wild. The food would be stored off the ground with adequate provisions for air circulation. The areas used for the preparation of animal food would be scrubbed daily with a disinfectant followed by thorough rinsing.

    Quarantine and health screening protocol for each animal would be maintained. Detailed documentation would be undertaken and data would be stored in central database.


    The the list below highlights the various components in the Vatavaran Primate Estate

    major components

    1. The Holding Facilities will be 3/4th open green area and 1/4th built area. It would have 5 parts:
    [a] Large green open area where monkeys would be housed as soon as they come. The area would be able to hold 500 to 700 monkeys at any one time. From here monkeys would go for their health check ups to b and c
    [b] X-ray room
    [c] Lab Facilities. After check up monkeys would go to either d or e
    [d] House for monkeys suffering from non contagious disease
    [e] House for monkeys with contagious diseases
    2. Hospital — it would have 3 parts:
    [f] Pre-operative room
    [g] Operation theatre
    [h] Post-operative room
    3. Quarantine Center — It will have 2 parts
    [i] Quarantine area for monkeys that will be handed over to CPCSEA(Committee for the control and supervision of animal experiments)
    [j] Quarantine area for monkeys who would stay in the monkey home of the primate estate.
    6. Monkey Home — Area where the monkeys staying permanently will be homed.
    minor components
    4. Disposal Site — monkeys which would not get cured of the infectious diseases would be buried here initially and later at some stage. If need be an incinerator would be installed
    5. Misc. Area
    [k] Store/Kitchen
    [l] Parking area

    Dr. Iqbal Malik, Primatologist, Founder Director Vatavaran
    Prof.Carol Burman, Primatologist, State Univ. of New York Buffalo, USA
    Gill Mately, Cornwall Monkey Sanctury, Cornwall , UK
    George Kollias, School of Veternary Medicine, Cornell University, USA
    Cyril Rosan, Secretary IPPL UK
    Dr. Shirley McGreal, Chairwoman IPPL USA

    Dr. Manu Jaggi, Joint Director, Dabur Research Foundation
    Dr. Vinod Sharma, Chief Managment Officer, Jeev Ashram
    Dr. Ekwal Imam, Primatogist, Aligarh Muslim University
    Dev Kabir Malik, Communication Strategist, Creative Director,
    Dev Kabir Malik * Design

    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Rhesus in India

    Rhesus in India
    Ms Iqbal Malik


    Although Rhesus macaques are the most widely and commonly present monkeys in India they are in peril now. The Reasons include counter productive are wrong management policies and the upcoming excessive, no holds barred scientific collaboration between Western and Indian lab researchers.


    Indian monkeys have always been in great demand by the Western world. Until 1978 India exported tens of thousands of rhesus monkeys to the western world for all types of biomedical, space and nuclear research by pharmaceutical companies, biomedical, military, space and nuclear research institutes. Only when the horrid nature of these experiments was revealed did then Indian Prime Minister late Mr. Morarji Desai ban their export.
    The export altered the age and sex ratio of the monkeys because animals of specific ages and sexes were trapped to meet the demand of the labs [Malik& Johnson 1992]. After 1978, trapping of forest monkeys continued for the lab research with in the country. Field research has proven that the haphazard trapping of rhesus leads to chaotic fissioning of the groups and to their dispersal into human habitations [Malik 1993].
    In the early 1980’s there were about 200,000 rhesus in India and about 15% were commensal. They were living within or off of human communities. By late 1990’s the population of rhesus in the country had gone up to 350,000 and about 30% had become commensal .By 2005 the number of rhesus went up to about 500,000 and around 45% of these were commensal.


    In 1989 the first plan for the management of human habitation monkeys was submitted to the Central Government-- Ministry of Environment and Forests. The issue was then raised at the meetings of the Wild Life Board of India (the highest body for wildlife) as I happen to be the member of WLBI but alas the matter was not taken seriously. No government body addressed the problem of commensal monkeys. However research and writings on lab experiments, human-monkey relationships, commensal monkeys and management continued. The research helped us realize that commensalism in monkeys and human-monkey relationships are directly affected by the management policies and the use of forest monkeys for lab experiments.
    The recent interest of the multi-national companies [MNC] in starting their laboratories in India, the collaboration of Western and Indian scientists undertaking laboratory experiments on monkeys, pressure from various government and private organizations to soften the rules for controlling and monitoring the experiments on animals in India and the repeated visits by Western primatologists to India to ensure the availability of nonhuman primates for collaborative institutes point towards one fact: Instead of restarting the export of monkeys, it would be better for the West is to use Indian monkeys in Indian laboratories and by Indian scientists. For Indian rhesus it definitely is a loosing battle.


    In 1999, when the residents of Delhi started complaining about damage from monkeys, the Ministry of Environment and Forest asked me to tell them how to manage the monkeys. If only the Government had acted in 1989- 90 on the plan I had submitted, the situation would not have arisen.
    From 89 to 99 the number of monkeys in the city had almost doubled, the green cover in NCR Delhi was reduced, and with the increase of human population in the city, tolerance towards monkeys had decreased. I could not recommend the management measures suggested in 1989 (like translocations, rehabilitation and peaceful coexistence as the monkey friendly forests had deteriorated and population of monkeys had increased). A new plan was suggested. Its important components was sterilization, and converting a recommended part of some reserve forest into a monkey sanctuary..
    However for some unexplainable reasons none of this was done, and instead a ‘Monkey Cage’ was built in Rajokari, the arid forest area close to the Delhi. This rectangular cage with a dome like cover made of mesh wire and floor of concrete with no sign of water around-was the home that the government had built for the monkeys. This was worse than a cage in the zoo, could not be used for sterilization, aftercare, or housing of monkeys. It was not used.
    In 2000 the authorities came up with a new way to tackle the problem of monkeys invading hospitals, government offices and other buildings. Where the authorities had failed, langurs were brought in to manage the monkeys. This move seemed to mock the gravity of the situation. The langurs scared away the rhesus monkeys and they just shifted their residence from one office building to the other. The langurs proved to be good photo opportunities for the press, but they offered no useful results to the problem. It was amply clear that the langurs were forcing the rhesus to disperse and move to newer localities. This led to monkeys visiting places where they had not been found earlier.


    In January 2001 I submitted my plan to manage monkeys for patenting. It was ‘A System, Apparatus and Method for the Management of Nonhuman Primates and a Monkey Sanctuary/ Transit Home for Nonhuman Primates’ I took this step because I was frustrated with the way things were being handled by the government. I had spent over twenty years of my life working with monkeys, and based on my experiences, had conceived a plan to manage commensal monkeys. I did not want the government to implement it in part or in a crude, half-hearted, unscientific manner and later blame me, as they had started doing by then. To give an example, as and when the monkeys were trapped by any which way and and released anywhere (hand snare traps were used to trap individuals and were released right outside the city limits) it was called translocation; they had the gall to say that the govt. was following my suggestions.

    Patented Plan

    My plan was to divide the country into zones and have a monkey sanctuary in each. Monkey sanctuaries were to be big green open spaces. They would be some part of the reserve forests of the zone. A pre-determined number of animals were to be trapped in an animal friendly and scientific manner from human habitation areas and taken to the sanctuary. All monkeys were to be tested treated and quarantined. Monkeys needed by research laboratories that were conducting experiments approved by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) were to be handed over through CPCSEA. The rest of the monkeys were to spend their life in the sanctuary. A selected number of males were to be sterilized.
    I received a letter from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India saying that my proposal was practical and workable, if implemented jointly by the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) and Vatavaran (the non-governmental organization of which I am the Founder and Director). The CZA was ready to financially assist the project provided the NCT government identified a suitable piece of land. The land would be State government property and Vatavaran would provide technical assistance and over all supervision.
    I received another letter from Ministry of Environment and Forest asking me to attend a meeting to finalize a strategy for tackling ‘monkey menace and stray dog problem’. At the meeting held on 11th September 2002, I was asked how I could help the government. I once again disclosed my updated action plan to capture two thousand monkeys and to construct a zonal monkey sanctuary on fifteen acres of land, where the monkeys not going to research labs would stay. The plan was immediately accepted.


    On 24th September 2002 I received a call inquiring whether I could start trapping the monkeys from the next day onwards. Surprised I asked them how was it possible to capture two thousand monkeys at a day’s notice. I was instructed to just capture fifty or hundred so that the Government can claim that the work has started. When I questioned where the monkeys would go, the answer was the facility at Rajokari. Dismayed, I argued that it was a mere cage without any facilities. I was asked to just capture the monkeys and the rest would be taken care off. Enraged at the suggestion, I flatly refused to be a part of such a sham.


    In October 2002 the Government gave the contract to trap the monkeys to someone to whom they could dictate the terms. About 150 monkeys were trapped haphazardly, secretively and probably in the cruelest way Monkeys were put in Rajokari cage. For how long they languished there we do not know. By chance when a conscientious passers-by noticed, the press came to know of it. The press immediately highlighted the scene at Rajokari shelter, showing pictures of monkeys escaping from the broken parts of the cage. It published quotes of concerned officials regarding the inadequate facilities at the shelter. The govt. got frantic to find a place to release the monkeys. Finally monkeys were released in the jungles of central India. No one knows what has happened to them. The trapping operation was aborted due to its failure.


    The Ministry of Environment and Forests has been told many times that for effective management, certain administrative and legal constrains must be eliminated, but until now this has not happened. Monkeys are commensal wild animals. The Forest Departments should manage them but here the Municipal body along with domestic animals like dogs, cats and cattle manages them. Monkeys are a State subject; the States are often reluctant to accept trapped monkeys from other States. This creates difficulties in releasing trapped monkeys to appropriate forests. The situation would be better regulated if monkeys were made a Center subject. The right management tool to be adopted will depend upon the total number of monkeys involved, the extent of available forest cover, the operative laws, the attitude of the people towards monkeys and how many times monkeys have been exposed to trapping previously.

    An Appeal

    Throughout India there are hundreds of laboratories, where experiments upon thousands of animals are being conducted. Although most are highly unkempt, without even water for the animals, there are some sophisticated laboratories, conducting experiments that follow the international and national guidelines for the housing and upkeep of the animals. Sadly most of these laboratories also subvert laws regulating the experiments. Also in all cases the monkeys are fed monkey chow and compressed food. Animals never forage, groom or play with their mates. Their behavior changes. They become restless, aggressive, listless and dull. Lets get together and save monkeys.
    In the recent past there have been developments both in India and abroad, which should alarm monkey lovers. In India there are moves to relax the norms for clearance of animal experiments, and the collaboration of Indian and western scientists for all types of animal experiments and human trials is all time high. Abroad there is news about the increase in the use of Indian animals in Indian labs. While in the Western countries, the number of animals used for research would get reduced by 50% that number would be increased here. In this scenario a nontransparent policy and a lack of records on commensal monkeys either before management or after would surely interest the vivisectionists, and it must be a point of concern for all.
    Let us consider the present scenario regarding animal experimentation in India. Every year over fifty lakh animals (rats, mice, hamsters, monkeys, snakes, frogs, rabbits, cats, dogs, geese, ducks, sheep, horses, buffaloes etc.) are experimented upon behind the closed doors of over five thousand laboratories in big and small cities of our country. While some laboratories are sophisticated with controlled environments and proper facilities for the animals, most are small, dirty and without proper food or water for the animals. I agree that, until other alternatives to animals are found, certain researchers will continue to use animals for experimentation. But the need for animal experimentation must be weighed by judging the competence and standard of the research project. A panel of scientists along with social scientist and non-terrorist [members who only believe in picking the animals away from the labs] members of CPCSEA should judge the competence and standard of the research project. The CPCSEA should encourage the use of alternatives by setting up tissue culture banks in the country and helping the research institutes who cannot afford the alternative techniques obtain them.
    I often wish for a world where we do not need to exploit voiceless animals for the betterment of the human species. Let all of us, those involved in experimentation and those far removed from it; be more compassionate and humane towards all life forms.

    Appendix II

    Man and Monkey- An Enduring Relationship

    They are known to be destructive they damage crops and property. For this they are harassed, trapped, hunted and even subjugated to government sponsored extermination campaigns. They are the commensal primates, species that live off and around humans without meaning to cause them harm.
    In India rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), Bonnet monkeys (Macaca radiata) and Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus) have always been commensal. Driven from their habitats by rampant exploitation and destruction for the sake of urbanization and development, these primate species are increasingly being observed in human habitations. The monkeys have benefited from India’s tradition of worshipping them. Whenever they have been seen in and around human habitation areas, the humans have reverently offered them food. It is at times amazing to watch the copious quantities of food that the devout feed the monkeys. In any area where monkeys abound the roadsides are invariably littered with peanuts, gram and bananas.
    Iqbal, you should probably check the dates for Ramapithecus, the ice age and the appearance of humans advanced enough to communicate tales about creatures such as Ramapithecus. I think that Rama came and went long before anything like symbol using or language-using hominids came along. Also the last ice age was only in the order of a few tens of thousands years ago.
    The Indian religious fascination with monkeys has often made me wonder whether there is something more to the legend of Hanuman. To search for an answer we need to examine the evolution of the earth and humans, especially in our subcontinent. The earth is at least four and a half billion years old. The first monkeys appeared fifty five million years ago and the apes emerged thirty five million years ago. About twelve million years ago the apes spread from Africa into Europe and Asia. Around that time there was an ape called the Ramapithecus- Ram’s ape, roaming around the forests of present-day China, Pakistan and India. Characterized by a massive body and small canines, it lived in partially wooded areas probably subsisting on nuts, fruits, roots and seeds. Though it is not possible to be sure but it probably looked like the images of Lord Hanuman as seen today. Human like apes appeared five million years ago and the prehistoric humans (probably originated in Africa) entered the Indus- Jhelum area in Punjab and Kashmir around two million years ago.
    The last Ice Age submerged the earth in far reaching transformations about one and three quarters of a million years ago. Several glaciers advanced over much of North America, Europe and Asia. The high reaches of the Himalayas and the valley of Kashmir also experienced tremendous changes. Many mammals became extinct due to the climatic changes. Ramapithecus may have been among them. Maybe our ancestors had seen and interacted with this huge ape. Awe- struck by its enormous size and strength they may have invented myths and legends about this ape, even though it became extinct. Probably this is how the legend of Hanuman emerged.
    As with the theories of evolution there are many lacunae even in this theory. The shifting of continents over the period of evolution of primates has significantly affected the course of evolution in general and the evolution of man in particular. However it is still believed that monkeys and apes appeared thirty million years before man. Ramapithecus is not in direct line of man’s evolution. Despite living on nuts and fruits it was massive in size and had enormous strength. Its existence was confined to Asia. What we are not sure of is whether prehistoric man interacted with Ramapithecus? Or for how long did they co-exist? And how did the tales of Ramapithecus pass down the generations?
    I am sure that even before the Ramayana was written man was interacting with monkeys, but they were not revered in a religious context. With the creation of the legends of Hanuman, Bali and Sugriva, man- monkey relationship acquired a religious hue and monkeys were elevated to the position of demigods. Over the years the monkey population has grown substantially along with an increase in the human population. As more and more monkeys started becoming visible in and around human settlements disharmony between the two species increased. It was just a matter of time before human resentment against commensal rhesus monkeys reached a dangerous level. In no time the gods got converted into pests.
    Rhesus monkeys are widely distributed occurring throughout the northern two-thirds of the country. Till the ban on export of monkeys in 1978, India exported one to two lakhs of monkeys annually to researchers in the US and Europe. The Delhi monkeys like their counterparts from the rest of the country were also being trapped for export. In 1980 there were two thousand rhesus monkeys in Delhi, of these thirty percent were living in human habitations and the relations were fairly harmonious. By 1997 there were five thousand monkeys and fifty five percent were present in human habitation area resulting in increasing monkey-related problems. In 2002 there are around five and a half thousand monkeys in Delhi of which sixty percent are living in human habitations and the problems have reached such a level that the citizens have approached the courts.
    Monkeys who start frequenting a colony are mostly loners- males who have left their groups and are wandering till they get an opportunity to join a new group. They will become regular visitors to an area if they have easy access to food. They can be discouraged if food becomes hard to come by- no offerings are made, the dustbins covered and the houses securely guarded. In fact to prevent monkeys from entering an area it is important to make sure that food is not easily available to them. Monkeys should not be fed randomly on the rooftops, around the houses or on the roadside. If monkeys are visible in an area it is best to ignore them.

    Monkeys are not naturally aggressive towards humans however they are wild animals and we should never forget that while dealing with them. In most situations – areas where green patches can contain the limited number of monkeys, if humans will leave the monkeys alone the monkeys will not bother them. By walking calmly in the presence of monkeys, keeping eyes lowered and staying away from the closely protected infants, humans can avoid confrontation with the monkeys. If monkeys try to bluff by making a ‘Kho-kho’ sound they should be ignored. When a monkey tries to touch or come near gently but firmly keeping a book or any other object between can discourage it. Beating a big bamboo stick on the ground or loud sound of crackers will make monkeys leave the premises. If by chance a monkey collides with any transport, it is prudent not to stop as the monkey group can attack in retaliation. Humans should also not go near a dead or wounded monkey because the group, which is very uneasy, can become aggressive. However once ascertained that the wounded monkey is alone, it should be approached from the back and covered preferably with a net. Then it should be taken to the organizations that look after sick and injured animals.

    It’s a common belief that monkeys are rabid. This in fact is not true. Monkeys will have rabies germs only if a rabid animal like a dog, a bat or a monkey affected with rabies has bitten them. The chances of this are very remote as monkeys do not interact with bats (as shown by my research) and adult monkeys can scare away stray dogs and protect their young from any such danger. However if an infant gets separated from its group there are chances that it might get bitten. In a natural population this will rarely happen. Madaris have told me that monkeys also bite them but they do not feel the need to get anti-rabies injections. During my twenty-two years of research only one of my fieldworker got bitten ever and none of us thought it essential for him to get anti-rabies injections, his wound was washed with an antiseptic and kept covered and he was given an anti-tetanus injection. Both the monkey and the fieldworker are perfectly fine till today. Touch wood.

    Recently my mother got bitten and scratched by an adult male monkey who along with his group had started visiting the colony after the government sponsored trapping in 2002. She took the complete course of anti- rabies injections because the bite was in the upper half of the body (this is considered more dangerous than the lower half by the doctors) and we did not know the monkey.

    I have discussed these matters with medical doctors and according to them also they recommend anti- rabies shot only because they do not want to take any chances. Living in close proximity to human population the monkeys acquire the diseases of their human neighbors. Thus it is necessary to get monkey bites and scratches properly treated.

    Large monkey groups living in human localities can become a menace. It is thus essential to rehabilitate them to appropriate forests. Relocation of monkey groups done responsibly and in accordance to the social biology of the animals makes good conservation sense. Managing commensal monkeys demands sufficient knowledge of monkeys, flexible planning and a lot of public support. In North India translocations should take place preferably during the winter months. WhenAs the need to drink water is reduced, monkeys like to huddle together, and the cool temperatures reduce the stress brought on by trapping and transportion to distant habitats.

    For successful translocation it is important to study the monkey groups present in an area and identify their sleeping sites and feeding areas. It is also necessary to locate forests with fruiting trees and shrubs and water bodies where the monkeys can be rehabilitated. For trapping the monkeys, the traps, either walk-in cages (if monkeys are localized in a concrete area) or nets (if monkeys are in an area with lots of earth and mud) or both, should be fixed near the monkeys sleeping quarters or feeding area when the monkeys are not around. Banana, gram, peanuts, tomatoes or oranges can be used as baits. The trap should be closed only when a complete group gets in. Here it is essential to emphasize that Tran located individual monkeys, but not the groups, usually disperse after release. Relocating animals from a single parent group allows each of the affected monkeys to adapt better to the new surroundings.

    The trapped monkeys need to be transferred to smaller transportation cages. Adult males should be kept alone while females and young ones should stay together. Food and water should be provided to the trapped monkeys. The cages should be covered with thick sheets to provide them with a sense of security to make the monkeys relax (bright light can be frightening to the trapped animals) and prevent the cold weather from affecting them. The transportation cages should be gently loaded in the vehicle and should reach the relocation site preferably by sunset. The cages should be kept near a group of fruiting trees. The monkeys should not be released but the sheets can be removed. The trappers and other worker should camp in the area. Next morning before sunrise the monkeys should be fed on food similar to the bait. As monkeys are still recovering from the trauma of trapping efforts should be made to not interfere with their acclimatizing process.

    For the next five to fifteen days the amount of naturally available food should increase and the man made food should decrease. This ensures that the monkeys becaome familiar with the area. Depending upon how the group is behaving the monkeys can be released on the third day, fifth day, and tenth day, so on and so forth, at sunset. Monkeys initially will run around and finally will climb onto some trees. For the next one month after their release, the area should be visited every morning and evening. A food call should be given their health and behavior should be accessed and the monkeys can be fed also (if the primatologists think so). This will guarantee that the monkeys will not leave the area till they get a chance to explore it and begin to like it.

    To trap monkeys from anywhere, it is essential to get permission from the local civic authority or the Chief Wildlife Warden of the area. Trapped urban monkeys should not be released in forests unless they are quarantined, as any disease they maybe carrying might spread to other monkeys or other wildlife. For this purpose there should be monkey transit homes where the monkeys can be quarantined and those suffering from illness can be treated. A predetermined number of male monkeys can also be sterilized to control the population growth. (Why males? Because it is easier and safer? But females mate with many males and are likely to become pregnant even when the male to female ratio is low.) The Government should set up monkey sanctuaries, which could be located near places of pilgrimage, where there is ample forest cover, source of water and natural food. People can buy tickets to visit these sanctuaries where monkeys can be fed by the devout or simply watched for pleasure. The revenue earned could make the sanctuary self- sustaining.

    Under the Wildlife Protection Act, the buying or selling of monkeys by ordinary citizens can result in prosecution. Many people keep infants of rhesus monkeys and langurs as pets. Monkeys, though lovable and humane, should never be kept as pets. Monkeys are wild animals and thus cannot be domesticated. Once these pets grow up they begin to bite and the owners look for ways to get rid of them. It is an extremely time and energy consuming process to rehabilitate such animals. I have rehabilitated many such pets and I am strongly against any attempt to keep monkeys as pets.

    Monkeys are made to undergo excruciating training in the false belief that they can be excellent companions to war victims and quadriplegics. These humans do not have the sufficient experience and knowledge on how to manage monkeys. Monkeys being temperamental in reality are not an ideal companion. Moreover most of the tasks like picking up phones, answering doorbells etc that monkeys are taught under duress can be conducted by remotely controlled gadgets.

    Monkeys are an integral part of our ecosystem. They have the same rights to the resources of this planet as us humans. The Indian Constitution enshrines the concept of environmental protection through the section on Directive principles of State Policy by assigning duties for the state and all citizens through Article 48 A and Article 51(g) which state that the “State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the country”, and “to protect and improve the national environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for all living creatures.” There are also numerous and wide-ranging policies, programs and projects which directly or indirectly serve to protect and conserve biological diversity. But there are none for the management of commensal wild animals. Thus the emphasis is mostly laid on only protecting the ‘star species’ like the Tiger, the Elephant and the Rhino rather than the complete ecosystem. Destruction and changing the nature of the specific ecosystems are affecting many wildlife species. Where monkeys are concerned urbanization, encroachments, altering the tree species are three of the seven reasons for the increased number of commensal monkeys in the country. The other four are haphazard trapping, decreased availability of water, decreased human tolerance and decrease in human tolerance.

    Declaring monkeys as pests or persecuting them is extremely disturbing fallout for a relationship that has endured for many centuries. In a country where there is a large population of commensal wild animals, the government should have a proper policy for their management. All species have a right to exist and thus equal emphasis should be placed on the conservation and management of all. If humans become intolerant towards monkeys despite sharing a relationship bound by culture and tradition, what are the chances of survival of other animal species?

    List of Publications (Scientific Papers)

    1. Malik I. Seth P.K. and Southwick C.H. 1984. Population growth of free- ranging rhesus monkeys at Tughlaqabad. American Journal of Primatology, 7, 31-321.
    2. Malik I. 1984. Time budget and activity patterns of free ranging rhesus monkeys of Tughlaqabad. International Journal of Primatology, 5(4): 0144.
    3. Malik I. Seth P.K. and Southwick C.H. 1985. Group fission in free-ranging rhesus monkeys of Tughlaqabad northern India. International Journal of Primatology, 4, 411-421.
    4. Malik I. 1986. Increased home range for a self-sustaining rhesus population at Tughlaqabad. Primate: The road to self- sustaining population (K. Benirschike). Springer- Verga Press, New York (USA), 189-195.
    5. Malik I. 1986. Time budgets and activity patterns of free- ranging rhesus monkeys of Tughlaqabad-India. Primate Ecology and Conservation V.III (Ed. P. Lee and Else), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 105- 114.
    6. Wolfe L. 1986. Initiation of the birth season in two troops of rhesus monkeys. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 69 (2): 281.
    7. Malik I. 1986. Time utilization by free- ranging rhesus monkeys. Proceedings of the 73rd session of the ISC, VII: 97.
    8. Malik I. 1986. Fusion: the means of self- sustenance. Primate Report, 14 (519): 09.
    9. Malik I. 1986. Sustenance through viable group sizes and expandable home range by free- ranging rhesus monkeys. Proceedings of Primatological Society of India, 6.
    10. Malik I. 1987. Fusion: The environmental consequences. Proceedings of the 74th session of ISC, IV: 11.
    11. Malik I. 1987. Feeding behavior of the rhesus of Tughlaqabad. The Bombay Natural History Society, 4 (2), 336 –349.
    12. Malik I. 1987. Fusion the means of self-sustenance of free ranging rhesus population of Tughlaqabad. Journal Primate Report F.R.G. 18, 39- 47.
    13. Malik I. and R. Johnson, 1987. Population dynamics seasonal breeding patterns of the rhesus of Tughlaqabad. International Journal of Primatology 8(5): A-001.
    14. Malik I.! 987. Fissioning and fusion for self- sustenance. Proceedings of Ethological Society of India, 43-53.
    15. Malik I. and Southwick C.H. 1988. Food and activity patterns of the rhesus monkeys of Tughlaqabad. Ecology and Behavior of Food -Enhanced Primate Groups. (Ed. J.E. Fa and C.H. Southwick). Alan Liss, New York (USA), 95- 111.
    16. Malik I. 1988. Possibilities of self- sustenance of rhesus population of Tughlaqabad. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 85 (3) 578- 584.
    17. Malik I. 1988. Spatial distribution of free – ranging rhesus of Tughlaqabad. Journal Primate Report. F.R.G. 22, 43- 51.
    18. Malik I. 1989. Population growth and the stabilizing age structure of the Tughlaqabad rhesus. Journal Primates, 30 (1), 117- 118.
    19. Malik I., Johnson R., and Berman C. 1989. Onset of mating behavior in female rhesus monkeys: Internal and external control. Proceedings of the national Symposium on Animal Behavior, pp. 75-82.
    20. Malik I. 1989. Female rank and daily activity patterns among free- ranging rhesus population of Tughlaqabad. Proceedings of 75th session of ISC, VII 90.
    21. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1989. Age related changes in feeding time among free- ranging female rhesus monkeys. American Journal of Primatology, 18 (2): 154.
    22. Malik I., Berman C.M. and Johnson R.L. 1989. Rhesus mother- infant relations, Inter- population differences, Abstracts: 21st International Ethological Conference, Utrecht- The Netherlands, and pp. 107.
    23. Johnson R.L., Berman C.M. and Malik I. 1989. Control of Mating Onset in Female Rhesus Monkeys, Abstracts: 21st International Ethological Conference, Utrecht- The Netherlands, pp. 90.
    24. Malik I. 1990. Rhesus Translocation: A demonstration to manage the urban population of monkeys in India. Abstracts: National Symposium on Conservation and Management of Living resources, pp. 62.
    25. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1990. Conservation of Rhesus Monkeys in India. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Primate Conservation in China, pp. 31.
    26. Malik I., Johnson R.L. and Berman C.M. 1990. Maternal Transport of Infants in Rhesus. Proceedings of XIII IPS, pp. 110.
    27. Johnson R.L., Berman C.M. and Malik I. 1990. Maternal style affects the timing of estrus in free- ranging female rhesus. Proceedings XIII IPS, pp. 112.
    28. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1991. Trapping and Conservation: Development of a Translocation in India. Primatology Today (A. Ehana et al) Japan, 63- 64.
    29. Johnson R.L., Malik I. and Berman C.M. 1991. Age and dominance- related differences in the feeding time among free- ranging female rhesus monkeys. International Journal of Primatology, 12 (4): 337- 356.
    30. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1991. Group fission induced by trapping among rhesus at Tughlaqabad. American Journal of Primatology, pp. 117.
    31. Malik I., Johnson R.L. and Berman C.M. 1992. Control of postpartum mating behavior in rhesus. American Journal of Primatology, 26: 89- 95.
    32. Malik I. 1992. Consequences of Export and Trapping of Monkeys. Primate Report 34: 5- 12.
    33. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1992. Reproduction, Maturation and Senescence in Female Rhesus. Primate Report 34: 25- 32.
    34. Malik I. and Menon V. 1992. A comparative study of free and caged Rhesus. Primate Report 34: 33- 46.
    35. Malik I. 1992. Lacunae in the upkeep of LTMs at NZP. Primate Report 34: 85- 90.
    36. Johnson R.L., Berman C.M. and Malik I. 1993. An integrative model of lactation and environmental control of mating in female rhesus monkeys. Animal Behavior 46, pp. 63- 78.
    37. Malik I. and Johnson R.L. 1994. Commensal Rhesus in India: The Need and Cost of Translocation. Revued Ecologie 49: 233- 243.
    38. Malik I. 1995. A Study of Health Foods of the Monkeys in the Wild. Primate Report 42, pp. 61- 64.
    39. Malik I. 1995. Experiments on Monkeys: A Report. Primate Report 41, pp. 71- 76.
    40. Malik I. and Menon V. 1995. Asian Primates: Conservation Priorities and Legal Status. Primate Report.
    41. Malik I. and Menon V. 1995. Trade Routes of Primates in South East Asia. Primate Report.
    42. Malik I. and Thadani R. 1995. An Overview of Lion- Tail Monkeys in India. Primate Report 41: 65- 70.
    43. Johnson R.L., Malik I. and Berman C.M. 1998. On the Quantification of Suckling Intensity in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 105: 33- 42.
    44. Southwick C.H., Malik I. and Siddiqi M.F. Rhesus Commensalism in India: Problems and Prospects. In Press.

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    Primates in Peril

    Exposing threats to wild and commensal primates worldwide