Dozens of men make monkey noises to keep nuisance animals away from the G20 summit in India

Dozens of men make monkey noises to keep nuisance animals away from the G20 summit in India

A tourist poses with rhesus monkeys at a temple in the Indian state of Rajasthan.Bild Vishal Bhatnagar/Getty

The organizers of the summit have allocated from thirty to forty men with the gift of imitation for this wonderful work. The men start making aggressive sounds at the langur, a species of monkey larger than the rhesus monkey that the rhesus monkey is afraid of. Life-size pictures of aggressive gray langur dogs should also deter rhesus monkeys.

Previously, real langurs were used for this task. It helped, but since the species can no longer be kept in captivity thanks to stricter protection legislation, it can no longer be used for manual services. Langur imitators are now used, among other things, in hotels where international delegates stay.

Finished by the author
Jean-Pierre Guillen works for the Science Editors at De Volkskrant As nature and biodiversity editor. He also wrote the book The Blind Goldfinch – How I Learned to Watch Birds.

Rhesus macaques have a fearsome reputation in Indian cities: entire colonies are a nuisance. They attack people, steal food, eat fiber optic cables, break into homes and even steal phones.

“Why don’t you play the sounds?”

“It sounds like a good idea,” says Mariska Kret, a professor of cognitive psychology at Leiden University who does a lot of research on great ape behavior. “There are many experiments that play back sounds. This seems to work for chimpanzees, among others: they react very strongly to the sounds being played. The technique is also used extensively in bat research, to investigate how the group interacts with them.

According to Crete, this method of mimicking sounds can work very well with rhesus monkeys. She asks, “Why do you necessarily use people for this purpose?” Wouldn’t it be easier to record the aggressive sounds of a langur and play it back in different places?

As early as 2014, people were deployed to make life miserable for rhesus monkeys in New Delhi. Then the city council hired dozens of employees who had to dress in langurs and emerge unexpectedly from behind bushes. Previous attempts to contain brazen rhesus monkeys have been unsuccessful. A fake plastic langur that made terrifying sounds lasted only three days when rhesus macaques tore it to pieces.

God in the form of a monkey

To reduce the disturbance, rhesus monkeys are captured and moved to a nearby nature park. Since the big city has loads of food to offer, the monkeys keep coming back. What also doesn’t help is the belief: the god Hanuman once appeared in the form of a monkey. This is why Indian believers often feed troublesome spirits with some food.

And by the way, more animals should be worried about the upcoming summit in New Delhi: the capital will hunt and sterilize stray dogs on a massive scale.

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