Authorities in the Indian capital New Delhi are putting up life-size cut-outs of langurs to scare away smaller macaque monkeys from transport routes and meeting venues during the G20 summit next month.
Leaders such as US President Joe Biden, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, China's President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the world leaders who will be attending the summit on September 9 and 10.
The entire city has been spruced up for the event, with trees and plants manicured and boundary walls given fresh coats of paint.
But the gangs of macaques that roam the city, trashing gardens and attacking people for food, are still a concern.
While there are no official figures on their numbers, it is estimated that tens of thousands of the animals live in areas where people are settled, triggering daily human-animal conflicts.
In an attempt to deter the macaques from troubling the international delegations, the New Delhi Municipal Council has begun placing cut-outs of grey langurs, a more aggressive species, along roads near the Central Ridge area.
"All the important sites, including the main venue of the summit, hotels where foreign dignitaries and delegates would be staying, are being covered to ensure the monkey hordes are not visible there during the event," a government official said.
Authorities are also considering hiring people who can impersonate langur calls to scare away the macaques.
Experts say the presence of monkeys in urban and semi-urban areas is a result of rapid shrinking of their natural habitat, as well as the ready availability of food.
Many Hindus revere monkeys as descendants of the deity Lord Hanuman and so offer them food.
Past efforts to control the monkey menace in Delhi have all failed, including plans to relocate the animals to a wildlife park and a 54 million-rupee ($652,000) sterilisation programme that never materialised because authorities could not find an organisation to carry out the procedure.
Attempts to keep monkeys away from government buildings using electric fencing, firecrackers and guards armed with slingshots were also unsuccessful.
The Supreme Court last year invited public bids from companies to provide “monkey scarers” to keep hordes of rhesus macaques from entering the sprawling bungalows of its justices in the upmarket Lutyens area – the capital’s high-security central district which houses important government buildings, including the Prime Minister’s office and residence.
In 2014, the Indian Parliament hired 40 people to scare off monkeys by imitating the screeches of black-faced langurs.