Is this a monkey or a man? It looks like a langur monkey, but if you're visiting India's capital, you might want to look again. That's because the Indian government has just fired 40 Indian men to impersonate langur monkeys to scare away some of the smaller, red-faced macaque monkeys that infest Delhi's parliament and other government buildings.
1000s of macaques monkeys roam the streets and alleys of Delhi, trashing gardens, attacking people for food, and disturbing the legions of humans who sleep in the streets. Unfortunately, Hindus consider the animals sacred -- incarnations of Hanuman, the monkey god -- so the devout often feed them and encourage them to stick around. What to do?
Delhi's civic authorities tried using real langurs to keep the macaques away from the parliament buildings. However, after protests from animal rights activists and a court order that keeping monkeys in captivity was cruel, they had to come up with a Plan B.
So, India's Minister for Urban Development told Parliament yesterday, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation has hired "40 young persons" trained to impersonate the langurs and scare the macaques away. Officials of the NDMC called the monkey impersonators "very talented", experts in imitating the whoops and barks of langurs and hiding behind trees to ward off the aggressive animals.
So far the impersonators are only working in and around the parliament buildings -- particularly the defence ministry and the prime minister's office -- but consideration is being given to deploying them on the city's metro trains, where they are a great nuisance, refusing to produce tickets and generally annoying the passengers both inside and on the roofs of the railway cars.
Lesson for Americans: Having the deer and the antelope roam through your country is nothing compared with troops of macaques!