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India hires monkeys to guard Games venues

Security officials at the Commonwealth Games aren't monkeying around anymore, deploying langurs at several venues to keep smaller simians from causing any trouble.
Image: langurs stand on leash held by their owners in front of the Commonwealth Games headquarters
Langurs are being deployed at various Commonwealth Games venues in New Delhi, India, to keep other monkeys away.Sonu Mehta / AP
/ Source: news services

Security officials at the Commonwealth Games aren't monkeying around anymore, deploying langurs at several venues in New Delhi to keep smaller simians from causing any trouble.

Because they are large and fierce, langurs are often used in India to keep other monkeys in check in public places.

The New Delhi Municipal Council said it will put langurs on duty outside several venues starting Wednesday.

"We have deployed 38 langurs and it is a very effective way to scare away the common monkeys," NDMC spokesman Anand Tiwari told Reuters. "We take these langurs on rent. Their trainers accompany them and once the assignment is over, they return home."

One such langur guards the headquarters of the event's organizing committee, while the giant monkeys were also seen in front of Talkatora Stadium and the National Stadium.

Spotting monkeys in Delhi is not uncommon. The animals roam through buildings throughout the city, often causing havoc as they scamper through hospitals and government offices.

In 2007, the deputy mayor of New Delhi was killed when he fell from his balcony during an attack by wild monkeys, while 25 other people were wounded when a monkey went on a rampage in the city.

The 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games, only the second to be held is Asia after Kuala Lumpur in 1998, has also seen its share of other animal-related issues, among other more serious problems already facing organizers. Besides the stray dogs that run rampant on the streets, a 4-foot cobra was found at the tennis venue and another snake was caught in a room at the athletes' village.

Sacred cows also roam unimpeded in the capital city.

Rats are also major concern but the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is utilizing 600 traps to clear the venues of rodents.

Delhi is also reeling under a dengue fever outbreak with more than 3,000 cases reported so far this year.

Stagnant pools at some of the Games venues were found breeding mosquitoes and the organizers released mosquito-eating fish in the water at the Games Village.

The Commonwealth Games have been plagued by problems for weeks, most significantly at the athletes' village, which was described as uninhabitable last week. But competitors have been moving in by the hundreds as Sunday's opening ceremony nears.

"I thought they were OK," Canadian flag-bearer and field hockey player Ken Pereira said. "They were fine."

Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Wednesday that it continues to receive reports of terrorist threats and issued an updated warning to travelers heading to the games.

"There is a high risk of terrorist attack in New Delhi," the department said on its website. "Since 2000, there have been at least 14 major terrorist attacks in New Delhi on locations such as markets, train stations and other public places. These attacks have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries."

About 100,000 security guards have been deployed to counter potential threats from militants, Reuters reported.