harry harlow & contact comfort
Developmental psychologists in the 1940s - 1950s believed that infants became attached to those who provided them with nourishment - a widely-held theory that ignored the role of physical contact.
Harry Harlow took gave orphaned baby monkeys two artificial ‘mothers’ - one was wire and provided milk, the other was covered in soft cloth but provided no milk.
- when faced with a frightening stimuli, the monkeys clung to the cloth mother even though the wire mother was the one offering nourishment.
Harlow concluded that the stimulation/reassurance from the physical touch of a parent plays a key role in developing healthy physical growth and normal socialisation.
Delhi braces for return of some serious monkey business
By Shaikh Azizur Rahman, CS Monitor, March 21, 2013
New Delhi—Monkeys are poised to take back the corridors of power in the world’s largest democracy. Once literally overrun with packs of small but troublesome rhesus monkeys, Delhi’s government zone began to fight back the menace a decade ago with large langur monkeys who were trained to them chase away.
Now, an animal rights activist is putting a stop to the hiring of langurs and their handlers, leaving residents of the capital poised for a return of the monkey business from years past: Packs of monkeys had broken into the parliament, invaded the prime minister’s office and defense ministry, at times ripping up wiring and tearing through files. Those who resisted them sometimes got bitten—or worse. In 2007, one deputy mayor in Delhi died after falling from his terrace while fighting off a rhesus attack.
The arrival of the black-faced langurs brought the red-bottomed rhesus situation under control and became a normal part of life in Delhi.
The langurs’ human handlers keep them on a leash. It is commonplace on Delhi’s clogged streets to see handlers bicycling to a job site with the giant monkey sitting side-saddle on a back rack. Each morning, langurs would chase the rhesus monkeys out of Parliament, then out of ministry buildings and down the streets past the living quarters of top officials. Each night, the rhesus would return, encouraged by offerings of food like bananas and peanuts left by Hindus who view monkeys as a living incarnation of the monkey god Hanuman.
So valuable were the langurs’ services, that they commanded a salary higher than the vast majority of Indians.
But, now Delhi’s langur handlers have come under fire after animal rights activist and opposition politician Maneka Gandhi began protesting the practice of chaining and training the wild langurs and putting them to work. Under the country’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the langurs are a protected species and cannot be owned, traded, bought, sold, or hired out. Any violation of the law entails a three year jail term or a fine or both.
Following pressure from the activist who is also a member of Parliament, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests issued letters to Delhi state government and several federal ministries alerting them that hiring service of the chained langurs was illegal.
Then, last month India’s urban development ministry issued a notice to different agencies in Delhi asking them to stop using the langur guards. Fearing legal action some offices have stopped hiring the handler-langur teams to curb the rhesus menace. Some others are still using the langur guards in Delhi but are apparently in the process of ending the practice soon, said one New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) officer.
That has some in the city worried.
“The urban rhesus monkey population in Delhi is rising. So, the threats of rhesus attacks on offices are also on the rise,” says Mahaveer Singh, an NDMC officer who looks after the hiring of the langur guards by the city’s civic agency. “The trained langurs provide a very efficient service. But the pressure to stop using them is rising following the recent ban by the [urban development] ministry. I think we have to stop hiring our langur guards soon.
“But it will be very difficult to tackle the rhesus menace in the absence of these langur guards.”
“All other strategies to keep the rhesus monkeys at bay in Delhi failed in the past,” says handler Mohammad Nishar. “Only our langurs can keep the parliament, courts, police stations, and other offices free from the rhesus menace.”
Monkeys protect Indian government officials
By Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor, May 18, 2011
New Delhi—Pawan, a trained langur monkey in New Delhi, earns his keeper about $5 a day, which is more than what 80 percent of Indians make. Pawan has a very specific skill. He chases away the hordes of rhesus monkeys who invade India’s government buildings by night.
The red-bottomed monkeys have become a nuisance over the years, tearing through files and biting bureaucrats. In 2007, a deputy mayor died after falling off a terrace during a monkey attack.
Killing the monkeys is not an option. Some Hindus revere monkeys as the army of the monkey god, Hanuman. So the government hires men like Badal Kalandar, called langur wallahs, to shoo the rhesus monkeys away.
Each day Mr. Kalandar bikes for an hour to work with Pawan perched on a back seat rack. Once they arrive at the minister of power’s house, Kalandar walks around with Pawan on a long leash while the langur jumps up trees and over walls.
The rhesus monkeys usually invade the minister’s property after getting chased from Parliament nearby. Pawan then chases them down the street, and down the hierarchy of officialdom. The nearby Supreme Court chief justice has eight langur wallahs.
As evening falls, the langur wallahs leave and the rogue monkeys return.
Indians Feed the Monkeys, Which Bite the Hand
By Gardiner Harris, NY Times, May 22, 2012
NEW DELHI—The first interloper stepped in front of her on the sidewalk and silently held up his hand. The second appeared behind her and beckoned for her bag. Maeve O’Connor was trapped.
Resistance would have been dangerous, so Ms. O’Connor handed it over. The two then sauntered arrogantly away. The whole encounter lasted no more than 15 seconds—just one more coordinated mugging by rhesus monkeys in a city increasingly plagued by them.
“I had other bags with me, but they knew the bag that had the fresh bread in it,” Ms. O’Connor said.
“They were totally silent, very quick and highly effective.”
The monkey population of Delhi has grown so large and aggressive that overwhelmed city officials have petitioned India’s Supreme Court to relieve them of the task of monkey control.
“We have trapped 13,013 monkeys since 2007,” said R. B. S. Tyagi, director of veterinary services for Delhi’s principal city government. Nonetheless, Delhi’s monkey population has only increased.
The reason is simple: People feed them. Monkeys are the living representatives of the cherished Hindu god Hanuman, and Hindu tradition calls for feeding monkeys on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Dr. Tyagi expressed impatience with residents who feed the monkeys one day, then complain to the city when the monkeys steal their clothes on another day.
Dr. Tyagi’s agency has asked the city’s wildlife agency for help, but wildlife officials claim that the monkeys—a scourge of the city for years as urbanization has encroached on their original habitat—are no longer wild and are thus not their responsibility.
“This problem will never be solved” as long as Hindus feed monkeys regularly, said R. M. Shukla, the city’s chief wildlife warden. “We’ve issued many ads asking people not to feed monkeys in public places.”
In 2007, a Delhi deputy mayor died when he fell from his terrace after being attacked by monkeys, a widely publicized episode that spurred the city to step up its efforts to move monkeys to safer environments. Yet such attacks continue. This month a 14-year-old girl was seriously injured when she fell from the roof of a five-story residential building after monkeys pursued her.
“Monkeys do commonly bite people, and their bite wounds can be extensive,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., wrote in an e-mail. “They are smart enough to often attack the face of the person.”
Stories abound in Delhi of monkeys’ entering homes, ripping out wiring, stealing clothes and biting those who surprise them. They treat the Indian Parliament building as a playground, have invaded the prime minister’s office and Defense Ministry, sometimes ride buses and subway trains, and chase diplomats from their well-tended gardens.
Roopi Saran, a Delhi resident, has seen monkeys steal candy from the hands of her children. And tribes of monkeys often take over her yard, preventing her and her children from venturing outside.
“So we sit inside our house like caged animals, like we’re the ones in the zoo and they’re the owners outside looking at us,” Ms. Saran said.
With the city’s trapping program a failure, some residents are getting a bigger monkey, a langur, to urinate around their homes. The acrid smell of the urine scares the smaller rhesus monkeys away for weeks. But the odor is no bouquet for humans, either, and as soon as it disappears, the rhesus monkeys return.
Amar Singh, a langur handler, was sitting across the street recently from one of his langurs in Delhi’s diplomatic neighborhood while his monkey systematically stripped the leaves off a tree in the yard of well-tended home. The langur, a large monkey with a black face dramatically framed by white fur, was tied to a pole with a six-foot leash. Mr. Singh cautioned against getting anywhere near the animal because “a langur’s slap is so hard, it can send its target back by five feet.”
Mr. Singh said that he had 65 langurs urinating on prominent homes and buildings throughout Delhi. He and his partners feed and walk each monkey during the day, but they remain tied to their posts overnight. He charges about $200 a month.
Dr. Tyagi said langurs simply pushed rhesus monkeys to ransack adjoining homes. The city started out seven years ago paying monkey catchers $5 for every rhesus monkey they caught. It raised the price to $9 four years ago, and now pays $12.
“Despite offering this rate, there are few monkey catchers,” he said.
Years of trapping, using cages baited with fruit and nuts, have taught the monkeys to avoid the traps. For a time, the city hired highly professional trapping teams from the south of India, but even they have stopped coming to Delhi, Dr. Tyagi said. Himachal Pradesh, a northern Indian state, issued permits to kill monkeys that destroyed crops, but the practice spurred protests and is not being considered in Delhi.
Trapped monkeys are brought to a sanctuary in the south of Delhi, but residents who live near the sanctuary say their lives have been ruined by the influx. Monkeys easily scale the sanctuary’s walls and often find their way back to Delhi’s central neighborhoods.
Kali, who lives in a small hut near the sanctuary and goes by only one name, said her young daughter and niece had both been bitten twice, requiring trips to the hospital and expensive vaccinations. After being attacked while bathing, she now asks her husband to stand guard when she washes. And for a poor family like hers, the monkeys are a constant threat in more ways than one.
“I give them my leftovers like roti,” she said. “But then they ran away with my onions.”