Shimla: Unable to check its marauding monkeys, Himachal Pradesh has offered Rs.500 each to youths who can catch the animals. The wildlife wing`s target is to sterilise 200,000 monkeys in the next eight months for which it requires simian trappers, an official said.
"Any person or group that catches a monkey from any town or village in the state and hands it over to the forest authorities is entitled to get a cash incentive of Rs.500. The trappers can leash as many monkeys as they can," Chief Wildlife Warden AK Gulati told agency.
The wildlife wing would provide cages to the trappers for housing the monkeys, he said. Even forest guards are entitled to earn the incentives, Gulati added.
As per government estimates, it has to shell out Rs.10 crore for catching 200,000 monkeys.
The state cabinet last month gave a nod to containing the monkey menace more effectively by setting up 25 new sterilisation centres across the state. These will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.
After vasectomy, the monkey will be released in the same area where it was trapped.
The new sterilisation centres would be operational by November-end, Gulati said.
Four monkey sterilisation centres are at present functioning in the state. They are at Tutikandi in Shimla, Sastar in Hamirpur, Gopalpur in Kangra and in Una, where 36,000 monkeys have been operated upon.
As per forest department estimates, more than 900,000 farmers are affected by the simians in the state. Monkeys, numbering over 300,000, target mainly cereal and fruit crops.
Their menace is more acute in Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Una, Mandi and Kangra districts, causing heavy losses for the people.
The problem is so huge that the state government has been requesting the centre to include the appointment of protectors of crop from wild animals, especially monkeys, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
To get rid of monkeys scientifically is one of the poll promises of his party, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told agency.
"We are on the job. Mass sterilisation is the best option. Its positive results will start emerging once half their total population is sterilised," he said, adding "the cash incentive (for catching monkeys for vasectomy) will also be a source of income for local unemployed youths."
A large number of farmers under the banner of Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti procured permits from the state wildlife authority in December last year to kill the monkeys that have been damaging their crops, a move that has angered wildlife activists.
The Himachal Pradesh chapter of NGO People for Animals and central agency Animal Welfare Board of India knocked on the doors of the high court against the animal killings.
Coming down heavily on the state government, a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Ahuja directed the authorities Jan 6 to stop issuing the permits.
The case is still pending in court.