Warning; Feeding food to monkey causing attacks may result rabies: Experts

ISLAMABAD, Sep 26 (APP):Wildlife experts have advised citizens to avoid feeding monkeys strolling along the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP)’s hiking trails and its vicinity to avoid being bitten or attacked by them as it’s bite can cause rabies. An Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) spokesperson told APP that monkey ate both plants and animals, where some also ate dirt that made it’s teeth highly pathogenic that might cause rabies due to viral infection caused after it. “Monkeys have their food or prey readily available in their natural habitat and do not require an artificial diet to survive,” he informed, adding that citizens’ compassion to offer food to monkeys had made the animal dependent on them and consequently, it might retaliate if someone did not offer food. He said the IWMB, through its social media portals and media briefs, was trying to spread awareness among the masses to shun this practice of feeding any wildlife species in the national park. He added that there were enough species available to the monkeys and they could survive much better by feeding on them. “It’s imperative to avoid monkey bites as rabies can lead to death or may become incurable in case of no vaccination,” he underscored. He emphasised that a notification was shared with the general public to avoid venturing into the MHNP after sunset and to leave the trails half an hour before the stipulated time for their safety. The IWMB official added that there were 16 camera traps installed at various locations of MHNP with eight of them fully functional. However, the remaining eight were placed at different sites as per the need for effective monitoring. Vice President, Pakistan Wildlife Foundation, Safwan Ahmed informed that the people venturing out into the trails should avoid giving any food item and must apply some perfume or deodorant to prevent monkey attacks. “A fragrance is an unperceived odour for monkeys, which they consider a threat and, therefore, flee in fear,” he advised. The public, he suggested, irked by monkeys breaking into their houses especially in the sectors adjoining the MHNP trails should apply air freshener on their walls to bar the monkeys from trespassing into their houses. He further maintained that in some cases of monkey attacks it was more of human nature that provoked the situation. “Monkeys move in troops as a minimum in groups of three or a maximum of 300. People should never consider a single monkey spotted as alone rather there will be an entire troop,” he warned. An alpha monkey (male) usually stared aggressively and tried to behave dominantly, which humans recognised as an attack and in consequence infuriated the animal through their conduct or act in fear and frenzy which should be avoided, he added./395\9329/26/2021 4:46:42 PM