Last week, two monkeys from a village in Maharashtra's Beed district made it to the headlines of both national and international publications. The two monkeys were accused of killing 250 puppies in Lawul village over the course of three months.
Soon after Sachin Kand, Forest Officer from Beed, told ANI, that "two monkeys involved in the killing of many puppies have been captured by a Nagpur Forest Department team in Beed." Media publications wasted no time in cross-checking or verifying the information. "Enraged monkeys", "Revenge of Apes" were spread across news websites.
News18, in fact, published a more detailed story explaining how exactly these monkeys killed the dogs in the village. "The moment a troop of monkeys in the area see a pup, it catches the pup and takes it to a place of considerable height and throws it down. It is said that in the past one month, the monkeys have killed at least 250 pups," the report said.
The story went so viral that "Monkey vs Dogs gang war" began trending on social media, with netizens coming up with their own memes to explain the situation.
Turns out that the story has many holes.
Forest officer Sachin Kand, who had informed ANI of the incident, told BOOM that around 50 puppies in the village have died of starvation.
It also turns out that this was not an act of revenge as mentioned in many publications.
So, what exactly happened in this apparent monkeys vs dogs war in Beed?
While locals in the area said that it was an act of 'revenge' between dogs and monkeys in the area, the forest officer claimed that animals don't have the feeling of revenge. "They just fight with each other because they are animals, that's their instinct," he said.
About a few weeks ago, the forest officer said, two adult monkeys and a baby monkey lost their way in the Lawul village of Maharashtra's Beed district.
The baby monkey died after some stray dogs attacked it.
"After the baby monkey died, the two adult monkeys started picking up the puppies in the village, mistaking them for their baby. They would roam around the village carrying them," Kand said.
However, since the puppies could not get anything to eat in this duration, they died of starvation, the officer said, explaining the cause of their death.
The numbers quoted by media publications – 250 dogs – is also unfounded. The number of dogs that died as quoted by many media publications, did not come from the forest department.
Beed's forest officer said that the monkeys had picked around fifty puppies in the village, confusing them for their baby.
The monkeys had also picked up the puppy of a villager, Ganesh Shinde. The puppy died of starvation after two days. Shinde told BOOM that the monkeys killed his puppy. Similarly, other village elders believed the same and complained to the forest department. Forest officials later caught the two monkeys.
Forest officer Sachin Kand said that such animals don't have the understanding of revenge. However, they are very emotional about their kids and can't forget their death easily.
And that's why the monkeys thought of the puppies as their own kids and carried them around.
"The clashes between dogs and monkeys in Lawul village cannot be termed as an act of revenge," the forest department said after investigating the case.
With inputs from Shashi Kewadkar