How to fight monkeys
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 1 of 32 › view all entries
Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, at 6:59 PM ET
The deputy mayor of Delhi travel guide">New Delhi, India, fell off his balcony and died Sunday after being attacked by monkeys, his family members say. The city has around 10,000 monkeys, some of which have taken to roaming through government buildings as they steal food and rip apart documents.
It's like Mom said about muggers: Just give 'em what they want. When monkeys get aggressive, it's usually because they think you have something to eat. According to one study, about three-quarters of all the aggressive interactions between long-tailed macaques and tourists at Bali's Padangtegal Monkey Forest involved food. If you are holding a snack, throw it in their direction, and they'll stop bothering you. If you don't have any food, hold out your open palms to show you're not carrying a tasty treat or back away from the monkeys without showing fear. To diffuse the situation, don't make eye contact or smile with your teeth showing��"in the nonhuman primate world, these are almost always signs of aggression.
Monkey attacks are extremely rare in the wild; the creatures tend to be scared of us and often scamper away when a person gets within 100 feet. As monkeys lose their habitats around the world, though, they've started to live in closer proximity to humans, and that causes conflict.
Aggressive city monkeys will give you lots of warnings before an actual fight breaks out. First, the animals will look at you in the eyes, open their mouths, and bare their teeth. Rhesus macaques, the aggressive monkeys that cause a lot of the trouble in Delhi, will then warn you with a grunt. Next, they might fake a lunge toward you; this often causes a victim to lose his balance. If you're still withholding food, they'll grab at your knees and legs, and put their mouths on you so that you can feel their teeth. Finally, if you still won't cooperate, they'll sink their canines into you. The study in Bali found that most macaque bites don't break the skin, but a wound could allow transmission of herpes B, which can be fatal to humans. Baboons, which sometimes attack humans in Africa, are much more dangerous: They're bigger and less predictable, and they're armed with 3-inch-long canines.
What if you can't or won't appease the monkeys with food? You can try to chase them off by shaking a stick at them, but they might get violent if cornered. If they don't budge, bop 'em on the head; visitors to temples in India sometimes carry a stick for just this reason. Primatologists will sometimes send a macaque warning signal called the open-mouth threat. Basically, form an "O" with your mouth, lean toward them with your body and head, and raise your eyebrows. Female victims might seek protection in a group of men, since monkeys are somewhat afraid of males. But whatever you do, don't freak out; those who scream, wave their arms, and run away are only going to make the macaques even more aggressive.
Despite all the monkey business, Delhi has refused to cull the macaques, which are sacred because of the Hindu reverence for Hanuman, the monkey god. Instead, the government has relocated some of the troublemakers and even brought in langurs, a mellower but larger monkey, to scare off the smaller macaques.
I keep getting asked how people can keep tabs on me during my trip, so I created this website/blog for everyone. Once my trip begins, I plan to update this blog any time I have internet access so you'll be able to check in on me. I'm hoping to be able to upload photos as I go as well, but that will depend on the types of computers I'm able to find. I'm going to try to upload all my photos that I take to save room on my memory cards, so I'm very sorry but there will probably be a lot of photos to sort through. I'll try to only post my favorites on the actual blog. You can also make comments on my blogs that I'll be able to read when I check in if you want to get in touch with me.
Since I keep hearing "Why are you going there?" I thought I'd start by giving some background info on some of the places I'll be visiting. That way, I won't have to give all the background while I'm on my trip everywhere that I go.
I'm going to be traveling in Northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The majority of my time will be spent in India. In India, I'll be heading to Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta), Darjeeling, Varanasi, Agra and Jaipur. I'll be in Nepal about six days visiting Pokhara and Kathmandu. Then it's off to Bangladesh where I'll visit the capital of Dhaka and make my way back to India along the coast.
I'm starting out my trip by flying into Delhi, so I'll start there.
Delhi is the capital of India and is supposedly 5000 years old, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. About 12.8 million people live there currently, so it's pretty crowded. The river Yamuna flows through the city, but otherwise it's on the plains and is pretty flat.
Delhi will be the main hub of my trip, so I'll be going back there off and on. At this point, I'll be in Delhi the first day of my trip, then I plan to return for Republic Day which is January 26, and I will spend my last few days in India here. Republic Day is when the Indian constitution was enacted and is celebrated by a huge military parade from the presidential palace to the Red Fort. It ends with a flyby by the Air force.
I like these sites for more info on Delhi:
http://wikitravel.org/en/Delhi Basic info on Delhi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Fort Info on the Red Fort
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Day_%28India%29 Info on Republic Day
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/asia/india Basic info on India