Security Simians to Patrol Games

With the Commonwealth games set to begin this month, India has been under close international scrutiny to ensure a safe environment for athletes and tourists to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the event.  And India has come up with an interesting solution to security concerns, hiring 10 langurs to add to the security detail.  The security simians have been used in the past, and are expected to prove a major boon to the safety of players and patrons alike.

But what will the langurs be protecting against?  It may sound surprising, but believe it or not apes have been used for security reasons for years in order to keep other smaller monkeys from stealing or attacking tourists.  And if protection from smaller monkeys seems like a joke, it’s actually a surprisingly serious matter.  In 2007 the Deputy Mayor of New Delhi was injured and subsequently died after being attacked by a monkey and falling from a high balcony.  And his isn’t the only injury or death associated with the local wildlife.

Monkeys can actually be very dangerous if provoked, and with tourists entering the area who are not used to interacting with wildlife, this can become a very serious problem.  Fortunately, however, the new security detail has been tried several times in the past and shows a great deal of success.  And with a cobra being spotted on one of the tennis courts shortly before a game was to start, the local wildlife doesn’t seem to be making any accommodations for the events.  But with the increased security including armed guards, police, and yes a pack of 10 langurs, officials are hoping there will be no incidents.

Of course because of the western image of monkeys as cute and funny animals that often remind us of ourselves, the move is gaining quite a bit of attention among tourists and its fair share of media coverage as well.  And while it’s likely to make visitors feel safe, there is a sense that the langurs will be inadvertently serving a dual purpose, protecting but also providing photo opportunities for tourists.

The Gray langur is said to be related to Hanuman, the apelike warrior who was involved in an accident that resulted in his face being burned as he valiantly tried to rescue his wife.  Langurs are generally used for security purposes because of their focus, intelligence, physical capacity to defend humans, and the easy by which they can be trained.  Additionally, they are active during the daytime which means they will largely be awake and on patrol when other monkeys would be causing havoc in the area.  Because of their intellect, langurs have been trusted companions for centuries in India.

The games hosted in India this year are held every four years and involve the United Kingdom and its commonwealth in several sporting events that would be comparable to the Olympics in several respects.