The Man-Monkey Conflict in India - Absurd but True!
The New Age of Old World Monkeys
I'm from a beautiful country called India which has some wonderful and incredible stories associated with it. Indian culture is extraordinary and you can never cease to be amazed by the uniqueness of it all. In this country, people worship many Hindu gods and goddesses.
Ramayana and Mahabarata - the two classical Hindu epics - depicts most animals such as bulls and cows as holy creatures. Ramayana contains a very notable character in it - Hanuman (The Monkey God) who is considered as Lord Rama's helper in the epic Hindu tale.
Because of this very reason, monkeys are considered sacred in most parts of the country. They are allowed to roam around freely, do whatever they want, and also eat whatever their little heart desires.
Even though this coexistence of man and monkey remained peaceful for some time, matters got less than comfortable when these monkeys started breeding in large numbers.
Keep on reading to know more.
Have No Fear When the Monkeys Are Here?
I was in my car when I noticed a large group of monkeys enjoying their snack offered by devotees outside the temple. I was really amused by it all. They didn't appear to be the least bit scared of us humans and just continued with their daily activities.
When I went on a family tour to Ooty, a monkey literally snatched a packet of chips away from us.
Now imagine this same sort of situation happening at a more religious place with more devotees. More food is offered and as a result, more monkeys relocate to the place. This is what you see at Vrindavan, India.
Vrindavan - the Monkey Haven
Vrindavan has a religious history behind it and is also considered an important Hindu pilgrimage site. The place is completely infested with monkeys and they are adept at stealing anything and everything.
I recently saw a show on Discovery Channel where an old man gets attacked by hundreds of monkeys just so that they could take away his basket of veggies and fruits. The man claims to have lost a considerable amount of money this way - it was a scary sight!
Since monkeys are considered sacred, there's hardly anything these people can do. Devotees offer a lot of food to these religious creatures and hence they end up breeding in large numbers at Vrindavan.
Monkeys were generally gentle creatures that became bolder as time went by. They became more aggressive and firm due to which they ended up considering human beings as competitors for food and shelter. If needed, they were even ready to attack humans for food.
Solutions to the Monkey Problem
When man-monkey coexistence ceased to be peaceful at Vrindavan, some suggestions were made by animal welfare -
- Shifting the monkeys to a different place - A difficult task because of the large numbers.
- Creating Zonal Monkey Sanctuaries - A more practical solution to the problem as suggested by Iqbal Malik, a primatologist, who considers the welfare of monkeys before anything else.
- Using trained langurs to combat Macaques - Yes! A monkey-monkey combat! Have you heard this anywhere else? Langurs are larger monkeys as compared to macaques and coexist peacefully with humans. Next to the macaque, a langur appears to be a model student.
The Rise of the Monkey Man
Like I mentioned earlier, no one was able to do anything when it came to dealing with sacred creatures. Many people were attacked at night but they couldn't blame the monkeys because they were religious creatures. They then decided to put all the blame on an imaginary character - the monkey man! At night, people were unable to see the creature properly and said it resembled a monkey but only larger. They were dead sure that it was half-human and half-monkey which roamed around in the evening looking for new victims. Experts say that this character was just a figment of many people's overactive imagination - a character that was born out of fright because no one wanted to put the blame on a sacred animal and in return face the wrath of religious leaders.
I had seen a Hindi movie called Delhi 6 where the monkey man played an important character but I never knew that India had once upon a time had actually faced this problem! The whole of Delhi had gone into a collective hallucination of sorts at that time with panic breaking out in the evenings all because of the monkey man! You can read it on Wikipedia here.
Time to Share Your Own Unique Story!
At times I wonder if such things only happen in India. Do you have any unique stories to share about your country? Something fascinating that you believe happens nowhere else?
Share it in the comments section below - I would love to know!