A contingent of at least 10 langurs went on duty today at the site of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, according to Fox News and other media reports. Officials from the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) hope these large, often terrestrial monkeys will help rid the games of smaller simians, such as Rhesus macaques, which could bother visitors.
Most of the langur "security guards" are headed for the swimming complex, which has experienced simian-related problems in the past.
(Gray langur family near Theppakadu Log House, Mudumalai National Park; Wikimedia Commons image)
Fox reports that the NDMC has a regular team of 28 langurs that are used to scare away other monkeys at public venues throughout the Indian city.
Yesterday, an NDMC offical told the Press Trust of India news agency, "From tomorrow onwards we will increase the number of langurs from 28 to 38. The additional langurs will take care of the Games venues and other important areas."
Monkeys aren't causing the only headaches at the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to open October 3. A snake was captured in the tennis complex and stray dogs have been seen at other venues.
Monkeys, however, are among the most visible animals in the city. Government offices, courts, police stations and hospitals all reportedly are visited by monkey "gangs" from time to time. While tourists are often amused by such happenings, locals take the problem very seriously. In 2007, a horde of wild monkeys attacked the deputy mayor of New Delhi. He died after falling from a terrrace while trying to fight off the monkeys.
Nevertheless, monkeys are valued by devout Hindus, who believe Rhesus macaques exist on Earth as a manifestation of the monkey god Hanuman, according to the BBC. Hindus therefore are against culling the monkeys and will often feed the primates their favorite treats: bananas and peanuts.
Hopefully the langur-chase-monkey solution will work at the Commonwealth Games, saving both human and monkey lives. I just hope the langurs are treated humanely.
"Any langur will do the business," Zahid Khan told Time in an earlier report. Khan has been handling langurs since he was eight years old. "The monkeys are petrified of them."