KATHMANDU: Rhesus macaque monkeys have become a nuisance for the public in and around the Pashupatinath Temple. Either, they hunt in a pack or solo, picking victims at random. Children, though, are its favourite target.

A fifth-grade student of Kaasthamandap Vidyalaya in Bishalnagar was attacked only two days ago.

A visit to Eden Public School at Miremire Tole in Chabahil reveals the extent of the monkey menace. It has, indeed, become an

incarnation of the Hindu deity Hanuman.

Parents insisted that children in the community were living in constant fear. They no longer go out to play, lest the monkeys come and attack them, completely unprovoked.

Devendra Oli, a teacher at Eden Public School, informed that at least 50 cases of monkey attacks were reported in the area over the past year or so. “Junga Bahadur Magar, a child, has been attacked twice. Fifteen students were injured when a baby rhesus monkey turned violent,” he added. Oli opined that though the authorities were concerned, they were doing precious little to rein in the errant animals.

Jaya Sitaula, general secretary, Mirmire Tole Consumers’ Committee, alleged that the Department of Forest had taken the

issue for granted.

“We went from pillar to post to highlight the problem. But, they continue to turn a deaf ear. While, the officials at the Central Zoo have refused to pay a visit to the area to tranquillise the errant monkeys,” said Sitaula.

Asked about the veracity of the allegation, an official at the Department of Forest maintained that they had no knowledge of the growing monkey menace. He surmised that perhaps, the problem could be due to shrinking forest cover and mushrooming concrete jungle in the Kathmandu Valley.

Be that as it may,

residents at Chabahil are at the receiving end.

Ramesh Timilsina, a fifth-grade student, has borne the monkey’s fury. It bit him on the face while Timilsina was returning from a shop one morning, carrying a pouch of milk.

Taranidhi Apagain observed that the animals were prone to sparing adults.

Gaushala, Gangahiti and Old Baneshwor, too, have had their share of monkey menace.

Som Prasad Ghimire, a grocer, said as many as 45 children and women, including his six-year-old daughter, were bitten and scratched by the monkeys in his locality.

What is its modus operandi?

“They often barge into houses to attack people and steal food,” said Ghimire. No wonder, harassed locals are keeping sticks in front of their doors to ward off the menace. Catapults, too, are being kept handy.

Monkeys, like cats, seemed to be blessed with proverbial nine lives. Once, residents at Chabahil mercilessly beat a monkey and dumped it in the bush. But, to everyone’s dismay, it made a “stunning comeback”, continuing to attack people more ferociously. Later, the victims had to be rushed to hospital, where they were administered anti-rabies vaccine that costs between Rs 2,600 and 16,000.

Raman Bhattarai, Sub-inspector, Metropolitan Police Sector, Gaushala, pleaded helplessness to contain the menace.