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COVID-19 unleashes ‘Jumanji’ in India

Troops of monkeys now scamper over the walls of the Rashtrapati Bhawan presidential compound.

COVID-19 unleashes ‘Jumanji’ in India
A monkey eats a banana on a roadside in New Delhi on April 8, 2020. - Hundreds of monkeys have taken over the streets around the Indian president's palace leading an animal offensive taking advantage of the deserted cities as the giant country remains in a pandemic lockdown. With India's 1.3 billion population and tens of millions of cars conspicuous by their absence, wildlife has moved to fill the void while also suffering from the coronavirus fallout. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

New Delhi: Hundreds of monkeys have taken over the streets around India’s presidential palace, leading an animal offensive taking advantage of deserted streets as the country remains under a coronavirus lockdown.

With India’s 1.3 billion population and tens of millions of cars conspicuous by their absence, stray domestic animals and wildlife has moved to fill the void, while also suffering from the pandemic fallout.  

Peacocks in Mumbai

In the financial capital Mumbai, peacocks have been seen perched on top of parked cars, displaying their spectacular trains.

Monkeys in Delhi

In Delhi, troops of monkeys now scamper over the walls of the Rashtrapati Bhawan presidential compound, past military guards and into the grounds of ministries and other official buildings.

Monkeys sit on a roadside in New Delhi on April 8, 2020. – Hundreds of monkeys have taken over the streets around the Indian president’s palace leading an animal offensive taking advantage of the deserted cities as the giant country remains in a pandemic lockdown. With India’s 1.3 billion population and tens of millions of cars conspicuous by their absence, wildlife has moved to fill the void while also suffering from the coronavirus fallout. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

“They are stealing a lot more, but not yet threatening humans,” said one officer on duty at the palace entrance.

The Rhesus macaque monkeys — who often snatch food from shoppers’ bags — have long been a problem in the capital, but there have been reports of some getting into office buildings during the lockdown.

Other animals have also been emboldened by the coronavirus restrictions on humans, who are only allowed out for food and essential items.

Black bear in Sikkim

A Himalayan black bear last week wandered into Gangtok, capital of the northeastern state of Sikkim, entering a telecoms office and injuring an engineer, media reported.

Hungry strays

Indian Forest Service officers, meanwhile, have shared videos on social media of elephants trundling past shuttered shops along deserted streets.

But the lockdown has also been deadly for some animals.


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