Indian court: Get monkeys off the streets of New Delhi

A top court reprimanded civic authorities in the Indian capital for not doing enough to stop hundreds of monkeys in the city from terrifying residents, news reports said Thursday. As forest cover around the area has shrunk, the city has struggled with a growing simian population. Government buildings, temples and many residential neighborhoods of New Delhi are overrun by hundreds of Rhesus macaques. They will occasionally snatch food from unsuspecting passers-by and even bite them. "If you can't control the monkeys, what can you do?" the Delhi High Court asked representatives of the various municipal authorities, the reports said. The court was acting on a petition filed by the harassed residents of a posh residential neighborhood. City authorities weren't immediately available for comment. Over the years city authorities have tried all sorts of innovative methods to deal with the problem. They've recruited langurs - a larger and fiercer kind of simian - to scare or catch the macaques. Earlier this year the country's Supreme Court ordered wildlife authorities to transport some 300 macaques from New Delhi to the dense jungles of Madhya Pradesh state. The Madhya Pradesh government was to receive 2.5 million rupees (US$54,000) from the federal government to cover the cost of reintroducing the monkeys to the wild. Efforts by animal welfare agencies have been defeated, in part, by Hindus who believe that monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman. They are often fed bananas and peanuts which encourage the animals to frequent public places.