Langur monkeys sit on a pavement near Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, one of the venues for the Commonwealth Games, in New Delhi September 28, 2010. Langur monkeys are used in parts of New Delhi to scare away other monkeys who create a menace around t
Langur monkeys were used to scare away common monkeys in New Delhi.REUTERS

The job market was never as creative as it is now. Men in New Delhi are being paid to act like monkeys.

They shout and scream like langurs, but stop short of scaling trees to fight the monkeys.

The New Delhi Municipal Council has hired around 40 men to dress up as langurs and scare away the monkeys troubling elected representatives in and around the parliament House, Supreme Court and other surrounding areas.

The men have been hired on contract and earn wages of approximately Rs 8,000 (£88, $131, €98) a month.

Monkeys have multiplied in the area and they even invade homes, vandalising kitchen gardens, carrying away food items, snapping phone or television wires and tearing clothes left in the open for drying.

In come the langur brigade.

Gray langurs or Hanuman langurs, the most widespread species of langurs in South Asia, are natural enemies of the common monkey.

On Thursday, India's Urban Development Minister M Venkiah Naidu acknowledged in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, that men have been posing as langurs to keep the monkey menace in check. He was responding to a complaint on the increasing nuisance from the simians.

But the story goes further into the past.

Earlier, it was part of the municipal gameplan to tackle monkeys by hiring real langurs along with their caretakers. It was a common sight in Delhi to see a langur tied to a long rope being prodded by its caretaker to chase away monkey hordes. The pair worked with two weekly holidays and did eight-hour work shifts with an hour of lunch break.

The practice had to be stopped after the langur species was included in Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. But it went on clandestinely.

In 2012, the ministry of environment and forests wrote to all government departments that owning, trading, buying or hiring langurs was an offence punishable under the law and entailed a prison term of up to three years or a fine or both.

With Maneka Gandhi, an animal rights activist, now part of the Cabinet there is not much chance for langurs to be municipal staff.

That was when the municipal authorities considered the impersonation act.

The municipal authorities have also acquired 'Sure Shot Rubber Bullet Guns' to scare away monkeys. These are safe and do not kill or injure monkeys, they say.

But the parliament member who had raised the topic of simian explosion in Delhi was apparently not satisfied. "We all love animals. Dogs can be handled but the place for these monkeys is a jungle. We are wasting money by training humans to scare away monkeys. The simians should be caught and released in a jungle," he said.

According to Delhi Fire Service and civic officials, the strategy to employ humans as langurs has not paid off given the men's limited ability, unlike langurs, to scale walls and trees.

Monkeying around is not that easy after all.