Taj Mahal monkey attack leaves Spanish tourist injured

Incidents of monkeys terrorising and attacking people have increased in recent years

Spanish tourist Sandra who was injured after attacked by monkeys at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. Photo: P Sharma
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A Spanish tourist was injured in an attack by monkeys inside the Taj Mahal, the latest incident highlighting the chronic simian menace in India.

Sandra — only her first name has been made public — was visiting the 17th-century Mughal-era mausoleum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, on Monday when the primates launched a ferocious attack.

She was reportedly taking pictures at the “monument of love” where troops of monkeys roam freely.

She sustained injuries to her legs and was given emergency treatment by officials of the Archaeological Survey of India before being taken to a hospital.

Videos and pictures circulated on social media showed Sandra writhing in pain as local photographer, Yogesh Paras, and officials gave her first aid.

"I saw the woman crying in pain at around 7am near the main mausoleum. She was attacked by monkeys. One had bitten her on the left leg,” said the photographer.

Monkey attacks, mostly by the rhesus macaques, have become commonplace in the country after their population exploded due to their sacred status in Hinduism.

Many Hindus, who revere the monkey God Hanuman, feed them regularly, which experts blame for their population boom in urban areas and subsequent behavioural changes.

There are an estimated 50 million monkeys in India, with more than 10,000 believed to roam around Agra.

Hordes have made the vast Taj complex their home, leaving authorities struggling to stop them from harassing visitors.

Two tourists from Delhi were bitten by monkeys at the Taj Mahal last month.

A similar attack in 2018 injured two French tourists, with cases of monkeys stealing money, sunglasses and food becoming widely reported at the monument.

India's Taj Mahal is the most-searched for Unesco World Heritage site in the world, but local monkeys are presenting an increasing hazard for visitors. Photo: Unsplash / Faisal Fraz

The Taj Mahal management has erected prominent signs warning visitors to keep their distance from the monkeys and special police officers are in place to offer guidance.

Monkeys are a protected species under Indian law that prohibits hunting them, as well as catching them without permission.

But incidents of the primates terrorising people have increased in recent years, with troops of monkeys often rampaging at tourist spots, government buildings, residential areas and business centres.

India’s Supreme Court judges in March called for better protection, as troops of macaques were invading their residences in Delhi.

A social activist in June filed a court petition in Uttar Pradesh, in which he argued that the monkeys had “made his life hell” and said the attacks were violating his constitutional rights.

Agra authorities said they were working on a plan with forest department officials to stop attacks by monkeys at the monument that attracts around eight million visitors every year.

“We have instructed the forest officials to take all necessary steps so that the monument should be restrained from the monkeys,” Himanshu Gautam, an assistant district magistrate at Agra, told The National.

“There is a strict regime regarding the control and capture of these monkeys. We have asked forest officials to make a blueprint and will discuss accordingly.”

Updated: September 20, 2022, 12:14 PM