World's weirdest job? Indian government hires men to act like monkeys

Emma Woollacott
India travel stock
India travel stock

The Indian government has hired 40 men to imitate monkeys, in an attempt to scare away the real thing from parliament buildings.

Wearing masks and hiding behind trees, they are to copy the cries of black-faced langurs in an effort to frighten off the smaller rhesus macaques. There are around 30,000 of these in Delhi, where they cause serious problems, riding on tube trains, stealing food and even breaking into cars.

"Various efforts are being made to tackle monkey and dog menace inside and around Parliament House," explains the government's press information bureau.

"The measures being taken include: scaring the monkeys away by trained persons who disguise themselves as langurs. New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has hired forty young persons for this purpose. NDMC also acquired Sure Shot Rubber Bullet Guns for scaring away the monkeys."

The men will earn Rs 8,000 a month - around £88.

The monkey problem is fuelled by the fact that the animals are considered sacred, and many Delhi residents feed them - particularly on Tuesdays and Saturdays, which are sacred to the monkey god Hanuman. The monkeys, though, don't know the days of the week and are liable to attack people carrying food at other times.

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They have overrun parliament buildings, sometimes attacking people and destroying documents. In 2007, a deputy mayor died when he fell off a balcony during an attack.

Until recently, the government used real langurs to frighten off the macaques. But after protests from animal rights campaigners, a court ruled in 2012 that keeping them in captivity was cruel. Government department were warned that buying or renting langurs could attract a fine or up to three years' jail.

The new policy hasn't found favour with all. "We all love animals. Dogs can be handled but the place for these monkeys is a jungle," MP Ambeth Rajan tells India's Business Standard. "We are wasting money by training humans to scare away monkeys. The simians should be caught and released in a jungle."

The job of monkey man is by no means the weirdest to be found in India. Professional mourners are often hired to weep and wail at funerals. Similarly, transvestites known as hijras are a common sight at birth ceremonies and weddings. Ear cleaners are to be found on every street corner - and some disabled people are even paid to accompany strangers on trains, as both they and their companion receive a discount.

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