Reward offered to evict thieving railway station monkeys

Authorities at Chittorgarh railway station in India's northwestern Rajasthan state have offered a cash reward of Rs 20,000 (£230, $365) for anyone who can outsmart about 15 monkeys who have made the railway station their home. The railway station is located about 360 km from state capital Jaipur. The reward was announced as the railway authorities had tried to "evict" the monkeys, but failed. At their wits' end, and with no help from the forest department, the authorities decided to "outsource" the job.

"There were just a couple of monkeys initially. Their mischief on the platform was initially ignored. But then there was quite a proliferation of them. And now, after a few months, we have about 15 monkeys. And they have become quite a nuisance," said an official at the railway station. "There's nothing the monkeys don't want. They don't hesitate to snatch mobile phones from passengers. They snatch food items, bags and other luggage," the harried official said.

Sounding like he was almost a little in awe of the simian troupe, the officer said: "They are an intelligent bunch. It is almost as if they understand announcements on the platforms. Soon as an announcement goes out on the public address system, they appear on the platform ready to snatch what they can find. And the passengers are more interested in boarding the train than dealing with monkeys. Sometimes there are three or four mobile phones at the same time ringing on the station roof."

Railway officials had initially sought the help of the forest department, but even they could not help end the monkey menace. The railway official explained that the cash award will only go to someone who can find a lasting solution to the problem. "He or she would have to ensure that the monkeys are left at such a far away place that they do not return," he said.