The Indian Government is hiring men to pose as menacing langur monkeys to scare off the hundreds of macaques terrorising MPs and staff around its parliament and government buildings.
Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu, the Urban Development Minister, told MPs yesterday that 40 young people had been hired to disguise themselves as langurs - India's bigger, predatory monkeys - to frighten away the macaques.
If the ape-men failed to rid the capital's administrative centre of the monkey menace then marksmen armed with rubber bullets could be deployed.
The announcement reflects growing frustration at the continuing presence of macaques in the city centre and the terror and damage they cause. They roam freely over the vast open lawns of India Gate and assail government buildings where they chew through internet and telephone cables, attack staff for food and occasionally jump in through the windows to pace the corridors of power.
Some Hindus revere the monkeys as images of the simian-warrior god Lord Hanuman and give them food.
Attempts to curb the menace were stepped up in 2007 when the city's deputy mayor died after being attacked by monkeys, knocking him over his balcony.
Monkey-catchers were employed to lead large, leashed langurs around the city in the hope that their intimidating scent would keep the macaques at bay. But the macaques were reprieved last year when the use of langurs was banned over concerns of animal cruelty.
In desperation officials teamed up with American zoologists to develop schemes to control monkey business by putting them on the pill. Officials planned to sterilise captured monkeys and mix oral contraceptives in food left for them on roads.
But for short-term respite while longer-term solutions are explored, Naidu has chosen the men-in-monkey-suits option.