Humans, monkeys and dogs are involved in a deadly battle that has killed an estimated 250 dogs and may threaten human lives as well in and around the town of Majalgaon, India. The town of about 50,000 is located in the Beed district of the state of Maharashtra in the west central part of the nation.
According to news reports coming out of the area the trouble began when some dogs killed young monkeys, causing the monkeys to become angry and attack dogs. The monkeys were described as langurs which would make the animals involved one of about 150 different members of the langur family. Six species live in India including gray langurs and the larger Hannuman. Most langurs are arboreal (tree dwelling) and subsist on leaves and fruit. They are attracted to villages beause they will eat vegetable matter garbage.
The angry monkeys reportedly began capturing dogs, taking them to the tops of buildings or high into trees and hurling them to the ground. The death of an estimated 250 dogs has nearly eliminated dogs from the area, reports say, and residents became alarmed when the langurs began to stalk children and chase and attack villagers. State forestry officials were called in. Initital efforts were fruitless but later reports say officials believe they captured two of the monkeys involved. The monkeys were scheduled to be released in another location.
Human conflict with langurs is not new and has been reported in a number of countries besides India. Langurs and other monkeys raid crops and conservation groups have worked to try to reduce conflict. Long term solutions are difficult, however, as the hungry monkeys can consume so much foodstuff that people go hungry and seek revenge themselves. In India they have resorted to “monkey catchers” some of whom operate illegally and end up killing the animals. Critics of relocation efforts say that moving problem monkey to another area only spreads the problem.
Dogs face challenges in India beyond angry monkeys. Most are not pets but street dogs haggling out a living on the crowded streets. For a veterinarian’s view on the life of an Indian street dog click here.