Stories tagged cuban missile crisis

Oct
29
2007

A Rhesus monkey: Full of hate, a monkey's most powerful emotion.  (phot courtesy of OskarN on flickr.com)
A Rhesus monkey: Full of hate, a monkey's most powerful emotion. (phot courtesy of OskarN on flickr.com)
A week ago Sunday, the Deputy Mayor of New Delhi, India, died as a result of being attacked by monkeys.

Deputy Mayor S.S. Bajwa was attacked by Rhesus Macaque monkeys on the balcony of his own home. Overwhelmed by the monkey pack, Bajwa fell from the balcony, and sustained severe head injuries upon impact with the ground.

Rhesus Macaques generally live in “troops” of about 20 individuals (a group this size is technically referred to as “pretty scary”), but troops have been known to be as large as 180 individuals (technically “super scary”). In addition to small but thriving colonies in Florida and South Carolina Rhesus monkeys can be found across southern Asia from Afghanistan to China. They are particularly populous in cities like New Delhi, where they have overrun many public buildings and neighborhoods. Coincidentally, these locations have recently been added to my list of places I don’t want to live: Florida; South Carolina; New Delhi all of southern Asia.

Part of the problem in New Delhi is that some devout Hindus consider the Macaques to be manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman, and encourage their occupation of public places by feeding them peanuts and bananas. Unafraid of humans, even Deputy Mayors, the Macaques will sometimes bite or steal food from people.

Rhesus Macaques are also extensively used as biological and medical test subjects, leading some (me) to theorize that this may have been a misguided revenge killing. What’s more, Macaques have accumulated significant space travel experience (NASA launched a bunch in the 50s and 60s, and Russia sent one into space as recently as 1997), and have even had their genes spliced with those of a jellyfish, making them powerful and unpredictable potential foes to humanity.

In an effort to deal with the Rhesus situation, Delhi authorities have employed monkey catchers who use langurs, “a larger and fiercer kind of monkey,” to scare away or catch the Macaques. Nothing stops a dangerous monkey problem like “larger and fiercer” monkeys.

Speaking of deadly arms races, last week was also the 45th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. Will humanity never learn?