The Himachal government’s plan to translocate monkeys to Northeastern states has met with another hurdle as the Nagaland government has rejected the proposal on grounds of suitability of habitat.
In a letter sent to the Himachal government, a copy of which is with The Statesman, Nagaland Chief Wildlife Warden Satya Prakash Tripathi has rejected the proposal.
“After detailed discussion, it was decided that there are no suitable/appropriate habitats in the state for monkeys proposed to be translocated from Himachal to Nagaland,” he stated.
“Introduction of translocated monkeys in forests of Nagaland may disturb the habit and behavior pattern of the locally inhabiting species. Further, the ecology of the area/forest is also likely to be disturbed which is the reason that the proposal of translocating Rhesus Monkeys from Himachal to the state cannot be considered,” the letter added.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the proposal of the state government was already in soup as the Nagaland government had requested HP government to provide habitat to elephants in the state in lieu of relocation of monkeys in the Northeastern state.
Earlier, Humane Society International (HSI) had objected to the move on translocation of monkeys, contending that it would only aggravate human-monkey conflict.
It had also written a letter to the Himachal Pradesh government and Union Ministry of Environment and Forest in this regard.
The primates and other wild animals have turned out to be a nuisance in the entire state as together with other wild animals, they are estimated to be destroying crops worth over Rs.500 crores annually, according to Himachal Kisan Sabha.
The population of monkeys in the hill state has, however, decreased from 3.14 lakh in 2013 to 2.70 lakh in 2015 due to continuous sterilization drive over the last decade.
The damage by the monkeys in the agriculture and horticulture farms in Himachal Pradesh has been quite high, forcing the farmers to abandon their fields.
Sensing the political overtones that the ‘monkey menace’ issue takes in the run up to the assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh, the state government had recently got the monkeys declared as ‘vermin’ in Shimla municipality and 38 other tehsils of the state by the Government of India earlier this year with a permission for killing.
The government’s angle was that the people, who are incurring losses in agriculture due to monkeys or are attacked by the wild animal, can kill them in the notified area.
But not a single person chose to kill a monkey for religious reasons so far.