Dehradun, January 23
While Uttarakhand continues to struggle from the growing monkey menace, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education has suggested to the state forest authorities to go for Gular tree plantation in it's forest areas to curb growing incursions of simians in habitations.

The forest-dominant state of Uttarakhand has been facing a formidable challenge in the form of rising monkey menace. While this menace has been the main reason behind why villagers in the hill areas were abandoning agriculture, even in urban areas monkeys have come in conflict with humans. The issue has been the poll plank of parties in the state in recent times.
Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education’s Director General VK Bahuguna has suggested that Uttarakhand Forest Department should take to plantation of Gular trees in the forest areas of the state. “Undertaking plantation of Gular trees in forest areas can be a very credible option to check growing monkey menace in the state, and availability of Gular fruits can limit movement of monkeys within the forest areas,” Bahuguna pointed out.
Gular’s fruits are liked by simians and even birds, and being from the ficus family, come up easily. Gular comes up naturally even in a variety of environments as it keeps the trait of natural regeneration. Gular’s fruit is considered full of nutrition. The raw fruit is even used as a vegetable, and the ripe one, being sweet and full of pleasant aroma, is taken like any other fruit.
Significantly, Gular tree species are found in Uttarakhand but it's numbers have declined substantially in recent times. In very close proximity to capital Dehradun, a locality is still known by the name of Gular Ghati due to the once heavy presence of Gular trees in the region.
Bahuguna, asserted that Gular trees, that were fast vanishing from the forests, was a matter of urgent concern and a factor behind monkeys taking to crops as their feed and coming into direct conflict with humans.
Uttarakhand forest authorities on their part have time and again come up with numerous plans to counter monkey menace but were still to get success. State wildlife authorities in the state had once formulated monkey rehabilitation centres near temples and other Hindu religious institutions so as to ensure that monkeys did not venture into residential areas. Even now state forest authorities are contemplating setting up two monkey centres, one in Garhwal and the other in Kumaon divisions, where monkeys can be kept for the time-being and sterilised and then left in the wild forests. But these efforts have met with little success. Interestingly, some boarding educational institutions, particularly in the capital Dehradun, had even hired the services of lagoors to keep monkeys away from their campuses. Langoors by nature are more aggressive and do not let monkeys come close to them. But the solution to the problem still evades the state Forest Department.
However, planting Gular trees has it's own set of challenges. Plantation of Gular trees can ideally be undertaken through cuttings and not seeds, and it certainly needs a better soil. The state Forest Department has been nevertheless laying emphasis on planting other fruit tree species during monsoons as part of their routine plantation in forests but was yet to undertake any Gular species-specific plantation in a big way.

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