New Delhi authorities search for monkey catchers

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NEW DELHI, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Municipal authorities in the Indian capital, who have failed to tackle the city's monkey menace, are advertising the post of monkey catchers, the Pioneer newspaper said Wednesday.

"We are sending two teams of officials to Assam and Tamil Nadu where monkey catchers are available in plenty," the newspaper quotes Mayor Arti Mehra as saying.

The decision was taken following the death of Deputy Mayor S. S. Bajwa, who died after falling from a first-floor terrace while fending off an attack by wild monkeys.

Rhesus monkeys are a severe problem for the residents of the city as their habitat is taken over by ever-expanding urban development, but culling the creatures is forbidden by Hindus, who consider them sacred.

The hordes of aggressive animals can cause serious injuries, snatching food from passers by, breaking into houses through open windows and raiding fridges leaving them empty.

There are currently only three monkey catchers in the whole of New Delhi and only 1,200 monkeys are reported to have been caught and removed from the city to date. Although the authorities pay the hefty sum of 450 rupees ($11) per monkey, catchers are understaffed.

"We want at least one monkey catcher per zone and for areas that have more monkeys, we need more of them to tackle the simian menace," the mayor said.

Earlier the city authorities spent 600,000 rupees ($15,000) advertising the jobs in newspapers, but as most professional monkey catchers are illiterate it proved a waste of time.

"We have yet to decide where to take the trapped monkeys," Mohan Bharadwaj of the city municipality said.

Feeding the animals is cited as the main cause for the monkey eruption in New Delhi, and local police plan tougher measures for those who violate the feeding ban.

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