Picture source: hostels247

The students of a boarding school in North Delhi were in for a surprise this Monday when a group of monkeys decided to settle down on the third floor of the boys’ hostel. The students residing in the same building claim that the monkeys had driven out the earlier occupants living on that floor. Incidentally, the floor was occupied by a group of students who caused a lot of inconvenience to their neighbours by partying with loud music at ungodly hours in the night and driving around the campus at high speeds, despite strict rules against the possession of personal vehicles.

When the displaced students were asked to comment, the only response they had to offer was a furious scratching of their heads, while one of them went to the extent of stuffing 5 bananas into his mouth in one go. According to the one of resident teachers, who also happens to be a part-time veterinarian, the monkeys are descendants from a certain clan called ‘Magica Lemuria’ that belongs to the lost enchanted forests of Enid. He claimed that this could be predicted by the length of their fingernails, the peace sign tattooed on their thigh and the way they lick the fur on their head into a particular shape, consisting of a sideways parting. As for the rest of the student community, the relief in the air is palpable as they now enjoy an undisturbed sleep, occasionally broken by the sound of branches breaking and clothes falling from a height.

The monkey rampage in several colleges of Delhi University has been a problem for the students and staff alike, the animals being the cause of major havoc and many complaints over the years. Recently, however, two colleges of Delhi University have come up with a rather odd method to get rid of this menace- langurs. St. Stephens and Delhi College of Arts and Commerce have employed langurs to help keep the college premises and surrounding locations free of monkeys. They are handled by keepers that have been employed by the college to take them on rounds everyday.
Drishti Anand, a second year student of DCAC states, “Initially it was difficult for students travelling by public conveyance to reach college as one couldn’t cross the long stretch from the main road to the college without encountering monkeys, who have even attacked students in the past. These cases have drastically come down since the college has kept the langur to keep them away.” Students of St. Stephens seem to gain relief with the arrival of the langur as well. Says Simi Sara Thomas, a third year student, “I remember the time when the monkeys created a nuisance and disturbed the whole environment of the college. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

However, this move by the colleges is highly questionable. While the langur in Stephens is owned and kept by the keeper himself, DCAC keeps the animal in a dark room, and rather inhospitable conditions. On enquiring about the same in DCAC, the guard reluctantly admitted to the fact that the animal was sometimes kept within the college premises in the absence of the keeper, and if let out, it was moored to a tree with a leash. The students confirm the same. The keeper himself was unavailable for comment. A case along similar lines took place in 2008 when PGI employed langurs to keep away monkeys from PGI and Punjab University. Consequently a case was filed against them in the High Court by animal activists on the grounds that the langurs are schedule- I animals. Hence their use for the purpose was deemed illegal as it violated the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960. Also, special permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India, Chennai, needs to be taken to use the langurs for this purpose. This makes one question the conditions in which these animals are kept in our own university and whether if it is even right to keep them for such a purpose at all.