After simian, Taj city hit by canine nuisance
Agra: India’s tourist destination number one, the Taj city, has raised an alarm against stray animals on the roads. Not just ordinary people, but even tourists have been targetted by monkeys and rampaging bulls. On several occasions in the past, government offices, police stations and hospitals have been ransacked by monkeys and dogs whose population is competing with human population in the city.
The district and other government hospitals in Agra have run short of anti-rabies vaccines, as hundreds of cases are being daily reported of dog bites.
Concern has been raised as there have been several deaths in the rural areas due to rabies. Vaccines have not been supplied to the primary health centres in time and the delay results in horrible deaths, says a former village panchayat member Laxman.
While the locals blame the government agencies for failure to round up stray dogs, the Agra Municipal Corporation claims neutralising hundreds of dogs to control the exploding canine population. The Corporation veterinarian said “each day our teams do the rounds in different parts of the city to catch the stray dogs who are vaccinated, and neutered before releasing them”.
After the bovine and simian attacks on citizens and tourists, its now the canine nuisance that is worrying the local population. Each day cases of dog bites are multiplying, with no relief in sight, as vaccines are in short supply.
Stray dogs menace has hit outlying colonies in the city.
“Morning walkers and late night returnees face hordes of dogs chasing mobikes or cycles. People either fall off or are bitten. So many complaints have been filed but the action is never prompt,” says Gajendra, a school teacher of a colony. Dogs are everywhere, even near monuments and hotels on the Fatehabad road. Children can not be left alone to play in parks, complains a home maker Rajni.
“Agra faces not just canine threat but also is plagued by the simian menace for decades, with the monkey population exploding at a threatening pace,” says a resident of the Yamuna Kinara road, Jugal Kishor Pandit. Residents of the city often have to restrict their day-to-day activities too due to fear of the monkeys. People have stopped going to their terraces as the ferocious monkeys target children and women.
The Medical College in Agra has been badly hit by the simian menace.
“Patients are bitten, food packets snatched away, sometimes the monkeys run away with medicines. They are all over the place. They(monkeys) run away with cough mixtures, glucose bottles or just anything they can lay their hands on, including spectacles. There have been so many cases of monkey bites in the premises,” a junior doctor said. The locals are continuously waging a war against the marauding monkeys whose population has crossed 50,000. Even the rural hinterland is seriously affected by simian nuisance.
“We have noticed a change in the behaviour of monkeys who are becoming much more aggressive and violent these days. The shrinking green cover all around Agra has forced the monkey population to migrate to the city where enough litter is available to sustain them,” says Eco Club President Pradip Khandelwal, who thinks greenery has suffered a lot due to these monkeys. Local citizens are helpless against stray animals whose population shows no signs of decline.
“Stray dogs and rampaging bulls are ubiquitous, even in tourist areas. The administration is totally helpless for want of a clear policy direction.”
In fact these animals have made life hell for residents of whole of the Braj mandal. From Vrindavan to Mathura and Gokul, and from Goverdhan to Barsana, the bovine, canine and simian nuisance is causing alarm after a series of attacks on women, children and pilgrims. The local residents complain that despite numerous complaints to authorities, neither the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department nor the municipal authorities have shown any interest to contain the growing menace. The crux of the problem is the rule book that says monkeys can attack humans but humans are not permitted to kill or shoot them. Raising his hands in helplessness, a Forest department official said “we have no funds for these activities. Moreover when you can’t kill the monkeys where would you keep them?”
On every road crossing one can see dozens of stray animals, old or sterile cows merrily grazing away, an injured donkey or dozens of dogs chasing you wildly and if you manage to escape safely, the waiting monkeys will pounce upon you from the tree tops or balconies, often snatching away glasses or the bags.
The nuisance is now unbearable, say the locals.
“You can’t freely move around, or keep flower pots. The marauding monkeys start their journey a little after dawn and take the circuitous route jumping from one terrace to another or running across streets to settle on the Yamuna ghats where they hang around whole day running and attacking people. The return journey in the evening is equally devastating for the residents.
Thousands of monkeys across the city continue to make life hell in urban Agra. Despite regular incidents of deaths and monkey bites, the district authorities have been dragging their feet on implementing decisions taken in the past to contain the simian menace.
The lanes are full of stray animals, dogs, monkeys and cows. Bulls have been attacking tourists outside the Taj Mahal and Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra.
“The Agra Municipal Corporation is supposed to capture these animals and house them in enclosures, but the officials are not at all serious,” says Lok Swar President Rajiv Gupta.
A municipal official said “where can we keep these animals and who will feed them”. The Gaushalas are already full.
“As for the monkeys, there are legal restrictions on capturing them and releasing them in the wild. The monkeys can not be transported anywhere. All plans to relocate them have failed.”
“We now need a network of ‘Bandar Shalas’ (Monkey shelters) with electric fencing, where these animals can be kept, given food and water. A number of colonies and residential complexes are now installing battery-run electric fencings, to keep away the monkeys,” says a social activist Deepak Rajput.