Solution eludes monkey menace at Dambulla

by

Some of the members of the Monkey clang inhabit in Dambulla Cave Temple have become more than a nuisance to the visitors. Loosing fear to the humans, some Monkeys come all they way down to steps and approach the visitors until they give away food on their hand. Sometimes they boldly rob the food directly from visitors’ hand scare the visitors by snaring. Several visitors are already been attacked when they struggle to keep their belongings.  

The visitors to reach ancient rock caves have to climb over 1km by foot where they become vulnerable to this Monkey menace. There are several vendors selling food items like pineapple, mango, peanuts etc to visitors on the way and those who carry this food on hand are fallen easy victims. But sadly, there are no warning boards either to alert the unwary visitors about the mischievous monkeys.

Experts point out the whole problem starts due to the visitors’ behavior of feeding the monkeys. “No food with visitor’s means, no monkeys harassing them” said Dr.Wolfgang Dittus who has done decades long research on Toque Macaques of Sri Lanka that is also the same species making trouble in Dambulla. Dr.Dittus points out that until visitors feed the animals and bring the food, this conflict will continue. He suggested banning vendors at site from selling food to visitors and ban visitors from carrying food. But due to the pressures authorities have to allow the livelihood of the food vendors and our cultural background where visitors like to feed the animals, this conflict will get worsened, Dr.Dittus complained.

An electric wire has been setup at the top of the wire mesh to avoid monkeys intruding the ancient caves at the Peak of Dambulla Mountains. This has gained some success avoiding monkeys, but visitors are feeding the monkeys through the wire mesh. So it is required to educate the both the visitors and vendors to find a solution to this Human Monkey Conflict. 

Published on SundayTimes on 26.12.2010 http://sundaytimes.lk/101226/News/nws_09.html

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