Dharmender Kumar is a 38-year-old entrepreneur residing in Muzaffarnagar in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. He was nicknamed “monkey lover” for his affinity and affection for local monkeys.
The area is full of wild monkeys, but Kumar is unafraid. In the video above, you can see him gleefully sitting on the ground with dozens of the hungry critters, equipped with a red bucket of chickpeas. The monkeys gather around him to grab a bite of one of their favorite foods.
According to Newsflare, Kumar wants to spread awareness about animals and care for them. He says he has never had a negative encounter with the animals and finds them to be quite amicable.
Monkeys have always been a presence in some rural areas of India, according to Down to Earth magazine. In 2016, local government officials released an advertisement in the paper to crowdsource ideas about how to manage the monkeys without hurting them. The creatures had reportedly wreaked havoc on crops that belonged to farmers or stolen food from people who were merely carrying groceries.
“We have been receiving a lot of complaints on the havoc created by the monkeys and dogs. Complaints pouring in have become a daily feature,” V. P. Singh Badnore, BJP MP and chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee, told Down To Earth over the phone. “However, we will not kill them nor will we encourage anybody to kill them. It is not a ‘menace.’ It is only an issue that requires management.”
In Muzaffarnagar, where Kumar is located, “local residents estimate there are four to five groups, each consisting of at least 15-20 monkeys, which have made life difficult for farmers and others,” according to Down to Earth.
Perhaps, that’s why Kumar’s work is all the more important, especially as he demonstrates how humans can coexist pleasantly with wild monkeys who are just looking for food.
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