Five arrested over India monkey kidnap

MUMBAI (AFP) - Indian authorities said Wednesday they had arrested five men over the kidnapping of a monkey after video footage emerged of a distressed primate being bundled into the boot of a car.

The short clip carried by Indian media shows a young monkey desperately trying to free itself from the clutches of two men as several distraught primates look on helplessly.

The men eventually succeed in throwing the struggling monkey into the back of a white Hyundai before driving away.

"We arrested five persons after a joint operation with the police," Rajeshwar Satelikar, a forestry official in India's western state of Maharashtra, told AFP.

"The accused are in the custody of the forest department and will be charged under various sections of the (Indian) Wildlife Protection Act 1972. If found guilty they are facing three to seven years in prison." Satelikar said the men, aged between 25 and 35, were arrested on Tuesday evening and the monkey was being cared for by forest officials.

Activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said they reported the video to police after being made aware that it was circulating on social media.

The incident took place in Maharasthra's mountainous Varandha Ghat area, near the city of Pune, PETA said.

"This terrified monkey has already suffered greatly from the trauma of being stolen from family members and needs to be reunited with them immediately", PETA official Nikunj Sharma said in a statement.

Monkeys are often trained as street performers in India but it is illegal to capture them under the 1972 act.