A 12-day-old baby boy was killed when a monkey snatched it from his breast feeding mother in India in the latest warning sign that primates are being forced into cities to search for food amid environmental destruction.
The child, named Sunny, was taken after the monkey entered the family home in Agra. His mother, Neha, gave chase along with family members, but the baby was later found lying blood-soaked on a neighbour’s roof.
Deemed as holy animals by Hindu, in deference to the simian deity Hanuman, monkeys are common throughout urban India and often snatch food, drink and shiny objects such as phones and cameras from people. Taking a human child, however, is extremely rare.
However there is anecdotal evidence of monkeys becoming more aggressive in cities, with residents having to erect screens and shutters to keep them out of their homes. In several incidents people have returned to their houses to find monkeys raiding their kitchens or stealing gadgets and jewellery.
The baby’s father, an rickshaw driver named Yogesh, told the Times of India: “Before we could understand anything, the monkey took away our son. After a chase the monkey left our son on a neighbour’s roof, but it was too late. [He] was heavily bleeding and had no pulse.”
Some urban groups have called on the government to sterilise and cull monkeys in cities, saying they should not be protected under wildlife legislation Credit: PAWAN SHARMA/AFP
Inspector Ajay Kaushal, of Agra Police, said: “The monkey bit the infant’s head and left the baby when people chased it with sticks and threw stones at it. The bleeding infant was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival.”
The family then took the boy to another hospital, after not being able to digest the news but doctors there also confirmed he child had died.
“Neha screamed for help while chasing the monkey. The monkey bit the neck of the infant and clawed other parts of his body,” a neighbour told the Hindustan Times.
“Efforts were made to lure the monkey by offering edibles but it dangled the child in its clutches, jumped on the rooftop and disappeared.”
Environmental activist Shravan Kumar said monkeys are turning more aggressive as their natural habitats have been destroyed and forest cover is gradually vanishing and they go in search of food and shelter.
“Monkeys are everywhere in Agra,” he said. “They are in all the five railway stations in the city, in hospitals, hotels and roads. They come in search of food, but they snatch and attack as well.”
This is the latest incident in a spate of monkey attacks in Agra, where they have become increasingly desensitised to humans.
Two months earlier, a toddler was attacked by monkeys and is recovering in hospital, while in May two tourists were attacked at the Taj Mahal, the city’s most famous landmark.
Some urban groups have called on the government to sterilise and cull monkeys in cities, saying they should not be protected under wildlife legislation.
“People do not dare to go to their terraces. Those who do have sealed their homes with iron mesh cages. You cannot leave your door open or sit in the sun,” a resident of the neighborhood, Seema Gupta, said.