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Monkeys overrun state buildings in New Delhi
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- An estimated 10,000 monkeys have invaded the trees, streets and parks near government buildings in New Delhi, with no solution in sight.
The population has multiplied since 1999, when city officials began contending with a 5,000-monkey infestation near the city's center.
At the time, the disease-ridden monkeys posed a particular problem to India's Defense Ministry. The primates sneaked into army bases and destroyed equipment, occasionally walking off with defense files.
Now, the city's primate inhabitants are growing more aggressive as they increase in numbers. Some barge into offices and steal food; others simply appear intimidating.
"What I do, if I am faced with a group of monkeys -- one or two (of) the big huge-looking fellows," said Surekha Rao, government employee, "is make some noise with my shoes, walk firmer and harder, so the monkey moves away. This I have learnt over a period of time."
Monkey contraception has been considered, but the government remains in a quandary over the situation.
Monkeys have a sacred status under Hinduism, India's main religion, so they can't be killed or trapped. For a while, the government captured and sent the monkeys to neighboring states, but those states are now complaining of their own primate problems.
Animal rights activists say as the monkeys' own territory diminishes, it's only natural that they've settled in the city.
"We have encroached on their homelands," said Iqbal Mlik, an animal rights activist. "We have taken away their fruits, we have reduced the water source in their home range, and we are trapping them non-scientifically from their home range."
Primate population a perplexing problem for New Delhi
Ministry of Defense - India Intelligence Agencies
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