Twelve bonnet macaques (common monkey) died on Friday after eating rice balls laced with rat poison while three have been sent to a rescue shelter. The mass killing of the macaques was reported in Tarabanahalli in Hesarghatta, situated 8 km off Tumkur Road.
Villagers found some monkeys dizzy and looking ill. They traced where the monkeys were coming from and arrived at the Nirmala Arogya Kendra. The villagers and Forest Department officials searched the hospital premises and found rice balls mixed with rat poison on the terrace. Five squirrels and some birds were also found dead in the vicinity.
The Soladevanahalli police and the Forest Department have started investigations and have picked up four members of the Arogya Kendra for questioning. If found guilty, they face imprisonment of up to three years.
“The monkeys are listed under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and killing them in the form of poison amounts to poaching. Killing and even teasing the monkey is a crime under this law. Presently the police are conducting the inquiry. We have already registered the case under forest laws. So far, nine monkeys have been found dead and three have been sent to rehabilitations centres run by CUPA and PFA,” said an official from the Forest Department.
The locals alleged that three monkeys were poisoned and buried inside the hospital compound on Thursday. “It’s evident that the hospital is involved in mass killing of monkeys. Why would anyone go to the hospital terrace and place rice balls laced with poison?” asked Manjunath, a local resident.
The condition of three monkeys undergoing treatment is not encouraging. “All three monkeys have consumed poison, but the vets are trying their best to save them,” said a volunteer from BBMP Forest Cell. A similar case of poisoning was reported on the Hosur Road 10 years ago. Last year 20 monkeys were found dead near BRT Tiger Reserve and the cause of death was poisoning.