Faced with the burgeoning population of monkeys that is fed by motorists on the highways resulting in the rising number of mishaps, the wildlife protection department has launched a drive against feeding monkeys to keep them away from roads.
Monkeys have become a menace on the highways where they are seen in large numbers waiting for residents of the town to feed them with fruit, bread, and other eatables.
Instead of searching for traditional food in the forests alongside the highways, the modern-day monkeys have developed a liking for burgers, fast food and can also at times be seen consuming coke directly from a bottle.
The monkey problem on highways is not confined only to Jammu and Kashmir but also to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Bikers complain of being chased by monkeys on the highway.
The drive of the wildlife protection department has two components- awareness of the people with respect to the habit of throwing food articles on roads and the second component is collection of such food articles directly from the people.
Suresh Kumar Gupta, Chief Wildlife Warden, said that there are instances of monkeys being injured and killed on the road which is a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act. He said that the Department has put up a number of hoardings along the roads for awareness of the people against the menace of dumping food on the road for the monkeys.
This is impacting the behaviour of monkeys which are getting habituated to throwing food and when these monkeys do not get thrown food they beg or steal food items from nearby houses.
He appealed to the people to co-operate with the Department of Wildlife Protection and requested that the people who want to give such food items to monkeys should hand over the same to the Department of Wildlife Protection staff so that food is fed to the monkeys inside the jungle and not on the road.
Because of various kinds of waste along the road and movement of people and vehicles, the food articles get infected and become a source of diseases to the animals.
The staff of the Department of Wildlife Protection is patrolling the vulnerable points to collect the food articles to be donated for giving the monkeys and creating awareness about the issue.
It was clarified that the awareness drive will continue so that adequate support from the people is garnered and those persons who will not co-operate shall be booked under law, he warned.
The abundant population of monkeys has taken a menacing proportion in the Jammu region. Almost all the towns are facing the nuisance of monkeys which has made life difficult for the people often leading to accidents in homes, religious places and roads. It is a common sight to see these monkeys mingling with the humans in all the areas of the Jammu region.
They live in groups of 30 to 50 and come in very close contact with human beings.
Feeding on highways and religious places have led to abandoning their natural habitat and migrating to towns and creating menace for people.
Very often the Wildlife Department is being asked to trap and Translocate these monkeys from Jammu city and towns too far off forests which is a difficult task, a spokesman of the department said.