Islamabad Monkey Spot: a heaven for nature, animal lovers

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By Saadia Khalid

Situated almost one kilometre from Marghazar Zoo towards Daman-e-Koh, a newly-established ‘Monkey Spot’ has become a major attraction for visitors, especially children, who enjoy feeding them in an entirely natural environment.

Constructed a few months ago by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the point has been developed in order to facilitate visitors, who previously had to park their vehicles on the road in order to feed monkeys, often resulting in accidents.

The spot provides an ideal setting to visitors, who thoroughly enjoy the serene surroundings. People coming to the spot bring a number of edibles like biscuits, fruit, popcorns and bread along with them and place them there for the friendly animals, while some prefer to step out of their cars and feed them personally with their own hands.

Children especially enjoy feeding the animals while taking pleasure from the various tricks performed by monkeys at the spot that makes them giggle and laugh. Seeing the enormous response of little visitors, monkeys enthusiastically jump and climb from tree to tree.

Monkeys have always remained a major attraction for the people en route to Daman-e-Koh or Pir Sohawa, who earlier could enjoy interacting with animals only after parking their vehicles at the roadside, but the construction of the ‘Monkey Spot’ has not only provided a perfect setting for the purpose but has also ensured the smooth flow of traffic.

The visitors have appreciated the authorities on the construction of the ‘Monkey Spot’ that has provided them with an ideal opportunity to get closer to nature and intermingle with animals.

Talking to ‘The News,’ the visitors said they frequently pay a visit to the spot, as it has proven to be ideal to feel closer to nature. “It is just like a jungle fair where monkeys and people are enjoying together,” said Javed Sheikh, a visitor. He said that he is a regular visitor of the spot and monkeys recognise him and his car. “As soon as my car enters the spot, they start gathering around it, as they know there must be something delicious for them to eat”. Shiekh said that he used to bring different foods for them but they enjoy rusks and bananas the most. “It’s good to see so many friendly and happy monkeys around me,” he said.

Another visitor, Taimoor Ahmed, a resident of Dera Ismail Khan and a student of NUML, said the spot is his and his friends’ favourite. “We frequently come here and enjoy monkey tricks,” he said adding that it is an excellent idea to develop a spot like this. Ahmed said that he spends hours at the spot and never gets bored, as monkeys are an excellent source of enjoyment. “They are wild but behave in a friendly manner with the one who feeds them,” he said.

On the other hand, there have also been some incidents of aggressive monkeys attacking visitors. “A monkey once attacked two children, while in another case, a woman was attacked by a furious monkey,” said an eyewitness adding that after all, they are wild animals and one should not expect them to behave nicely all the time. “There is neither a guard deputed for the protection of visitors at the spot nor any first aid facility in order to provide immediate medical care to victims,” he said.

He said although there are signboards inscribed with warning for children, stating that monkeys could be dangerous, yet there is no detailed instructions available for visitors. “There must be a board inscribed with instructions regarding the distance one should maintain from monkeys, the type of food to be fed and precautions one should adopt while feeding them,” he said.

Talking to ‘The News,’ Usman Khan, a stallholder, said that monkeys usually move around in groups. According to him, there are three types of monkeys on the Margallas. “There are around 200 to 250 monkeys living in this particular part of jungle and among them one group usually dominates due to its strength and power”. He confirmed the incidents of monkey attacks, which according to him, took place some 15 days ago. “Yes, there had been two incidents in which monkeys attacked visitors but fortunately they were not injured seriously,” he said.

The place is also a major attraction for people belonging to other religions in which monkeys are considered a reverent animal. “Foreigners, especially those who work in embassies, regularly visit the spot and feed monkeys with great reverence,” he said.

It is also witnessed that despite having a fixed spot to feed monkeys and a ban imposed on parking vehicles at the roadside, some people still park their vehicles at dangerous curves to view and feed monkeys.

The visitors, however, greatly appreciated the authorities for the innovative idea of constructing the ‘Monkey Spot’ but demanded deputing security personnel and the facility of first aid in order to deal with any unfortunate situation.

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