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New Delhi doesn’t want its monkeys to ruin G20. But it has a plan

By Rhea Mogul, CNN

(CNN) — Authorities in India are determined to keep a lid on any monkey business ahead of world leaders jetting in next week, by placing life-size cutouts of angry langurs across the capital to dissuade smaller pesky primates from wreaking havoc or hogging the limelight while the nation takes center stage.

India is gearing up to welcome the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) countries in New Delhi next weekend, including US President Joe Biden, in an event that has been given utmost prominence at home.

Little is being left to chance, not even the city’s notoriously mischievous population of rhesus macaques.

The small monkeys are found across the capital, running across roads, bouncing between rooftops, causing a general nuisance and occasionally attacking unexpected pedestrians.

As the government embarks on a major beautification drive, freshly painting walls, planting trees and placing colorful flowers in key areas across town, New Delhi’s authorities have taken steps to ensure the animals don’t ruin those efforts.

Enter the langur – or at least, cardboard cutouts of langurs – and men trained to sound like the bigger primates.

“(The monkeys) don’t want to come near the large cutouts of the langurs as they get scared,” Satish Upadhyay, vice-chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, told Indian news agency ANI. “Monkeys cannot be displaced, harmed or hit.”

Upadhyay added they have also deployed between 30 and 40 men who can mimic the sounds of langurs to trick the rhesus monkeys into thinking they are nearby.

The council has also left food for the monkeys in forested areas to encourage them to remain there, he added.

Monkeys are revered in Hindu-majority India and culling programs of wild or stray animals have previously proved hugely controversial. Hence the need for more humane solutions.

The langur monkey is much larger and more aggressive than the smaller rhesus macaque and have long been used in the past by authorities to scare off marauding gangs of the latter.

Live langurs were rented and put on duty when the Commonwealth Games were held in New Delhi in 2010, Reuters news agency reported.

Much of central New Delhi will come to a halt for the G20 with a huge operation to keep global leaders moving freely between the hotels and meeting venues.

Billboards advertising the summit and featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face have been placed on corners of many streets, while the police and security presence is set to increase in the days leading up to the meeting.

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