Be it places of pilgrimage, forested hinterlands, coastal areas or a congested locality, monkeys are a common sight all over India, whose increasing population in recent times has translated to a menace at many places. While reports continue to surface about monkeys harassing humans for food, a very concerning aspect of this menace is often overlooked. Due to shrinking forests and rampant deforestation in cities and villages, monkeys are losing their habitats, which drive them to venture into human inhabitations in search of food.
To address a similar issue in Odisha, the Forest Department has decided to plant fruit-bearing trees in 363 hectares of vacant land to lure the monkeys back into their natural habitat.
The monkey menace of Kalahandi South Forest Division
In Kalahandi, Odisha, a 6-km long stretch of road between Biswanathpur and Kadalighat, have been infested by thousands of monkeys for the last two to three years. The trend started with a few passers-by offering food to a bunch of monkeys. It has now resulted in a bigger menace, wherein hundreds of animals rush in from the adjoining woodlands bothering the people for food. Many of the younger monkeys are also killed in accidents due to the speeding vehicles.
Speaking to Efforts For Good, T. Ashok Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer, Kalahandi Division (South) shares, “The monkey menace has been existing for the last 2-3 years. It has increased due to people’s habit of feeding morsels of food to the monkeys. We have repeatedly urged the passengers, truck drivers and the passers-by to stop sharing food so that the monkeys contain themselves in their natural habitat. We have even installed signboard forbidding the practice.”
Plantation of fruit-bearing trees
Kumar adds, “As an additional measure, the Forest Department has decided to plant fruit trees like amla, cashew, guava, jackfruit, tamarind, custard apple and other native fruit-bearing species, to lure the monkeys back inside the forests.”
“We have identified patches of vacant land inside the forests where the plantation will take place. Since it is impossible for us to relocate so many monkeys to safer territory with an abundance of fruit trees, we are opting for the next best alternative,” he informs.
The saplings of the trees are now being raised in nurseries which will be planted over 2019 and 2020.
The Forest Department is hoping for the success of this initiative, following which they will replicate the drive in other monkey-infested parts of the state as well.
Efforts For Good take
The Kalahandi South Forest Division has set an exemplary example for the nation to follow, in a humane dealing with habitat loss of wild animals while conserving the environment as well. Instead of going for cumbersome and risky procedures like the relocation of animals, as has been followed by a few states in the past, the Kalahandi South Forest Division has prioritised the safety and well-being of the animals above all. At the same time, the planting of fruit trees in such a vast expanse of land is in itself a laudable endeavour.