Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 19:48 UK

Indian school for rogue monkeys

Monkey in India
Monkeys have become a major nuisance throughout India

Wildlife officials in India plan to build a special school to improve the behaviour of delinquent monkeys.

They say the aim is to target monkeys that pose a serious threat to people in the state of Punjab.

Officials say monkeys are a growing menace in Punjab as the animals move into towns and cities looking for food.

The state government has asked India's Central Zoo Authority for funds to build the country's first monkey rescue and rehabilitation centre.

Punjab has more than 65,000 wild monkeys.

As more and more forests disappear, they are increasingly encroaching into human settlements, say experts.

Humans attacked

Many of the animals now live in towns and villages and it is not uncommon for them to attack humans as they forage for food.

The problem of rogue monkeys is particularly severe in towns close to India's north-western border with Pakistan.

Officials accuse them of a variety of bad behaviour from terrorising children, snatching food from people and destroying property.

Defunct monkey jail in Punjab
The rehab centre will be located on the site of a defunct 'monkey jail'

Macaque monkeys routinely destroy TV antennae, tear down clothes-lines and damage parked scooters and motorcycles.

"Besides people landing in hospitals after encounters with monkeys, the animals also often get hurt when house owners try to chase them away or keep them out by using live electric wires and other means," chief wildlife warden RK Luna told the BBC.

The proposed new monkey school will take in the "worst offenders" and put them through a crash course in good manners.

"We have proposed a composite facility where scientific methods will be employed to change and alter the social habits of the monkeys," Mr Luna said.

Wildlife officials hope to reduce aggression and train the monkeys to be more like the wild animals they originally were.

Temporary home

It is hoped that the school will eventually become a temporary home for up to 100 rogue monkeys.

It will begin with 15-20 animals complete with a quarantine area and a veterinary hospital.

The monkey rehabilitation centre is planned as an extension to a mini zoo near the city of Patiala, in a thickly forested area that was once the royal hunting grounds of the princely state of Patiala.

It replaces an earlier - now defunct - holding facility or "jail" for rogue monkeys also located at the site several years ago.

Mr Luna said work on the school would begin as soon as possible.

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