In Focus

Monkeys thwarts farming, attack tourists

Apart from the snakes that thrive in the island’s thick foliage, it’s the multitudes of monkeys that have grown multi-fold over the years. Nature is a twin-edged sword. It is Elephanta Island’s biggest USP and its gravest threat too.

Monkey bites and snake-bites are common but there is no anti-venom treatment available

After reducing farming to a farce with the systematic damage they’ve inflicted, the monkeys are the single-largest threat to any cultivation activity undertaken by the residents left with little option but to set up handicraft stalls for visitors all along the 120 steps leading from the jetty upto the caves.

If you’ve survived till here and manage to enter the island and reach the base of the 120 steps, you have to swiftly dodge onslaughts by ferocious monkeys who attack in numbers and physically snatch any plastic bags containing food you may be carrying. “It’s best to hand over any edible belongings you may be carrying on hand rather than try to fight them. They’re lethal and ruthless,” says Elephanta Island regular and Mumbaikar Tarun Chandiramani. “I’ve learned the hard way though.

After being attacked a couple of times, I make sure that any eatable I carry is safely ensconced in my haversack and nothing stays open in my hands for the monkeys to grab,” he adds.

And then, once you entered the island, monkey bites and snake-bites are common place but there is absolutely no anti-venom treatment available on the island.

This report has been prepared for DraftCraft International’s Flagship Initiative, The Elephanta Island Project to research, analyse and determine the rights and liabilities of Islanders, local and foreign tourists vis-a-vis the responsibility of the State towards all stakeholders and natural resources while upholding the law of the land and ensuring the protection of environment that tops the list of priorities. The initiative examines laws and policies regarding islands, sea transport, privacy, women’s rights, health, protection of the environment and rights and liabilities of tourists guaranteed to all by the State in context of the Right To Equality, Freedoms, The Right to Life and Global Conventions to which India is a signatory.