As Mumbai heaves under the pressure of a spiraling population and racing urbanisation, the man-animal conflict is an everyday reality. Monkeys have been giving sleepless nights to the residents of Mumbai and Bhiwandi, especially those who live in societies on the fringes of forested areas like Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP).
A monkey outside a window at Swastik Alps
Swastik Alps, a society near Brahmand, off Ghodbunder road, called the Forest Department on September 15 after a pack of five monkeys wreaked havoc. The officer told the society’s manager that the department didn’t rescue monkeys. The officer gave the contact of a private monkey catcher, who charges up to Rs 5,000 to trap every monkey.
Private catchers may be making a killing, but they have their own tale to tell. “Rescuing monkeys is team effort. It’s our responsibility not to cause harm to the animal. I have to pay the team,” argues Shankar Kunchikorve, a 37-year-old monkey catcher. The Dharavi resident has been rescuing monkeys for 11 years.
Kunchikorve receives 40 calls a month. “There have been times when I have agreed to rescue a monkey for Rs 2,000. Along with my three helpers, we trap the monkeys with our bare hands, and this requires planning and patience. Even when we are bitten, the Forest Department doesn’t step in to help,” he rues.
“The monkeys vanished on Friday, but returned again yesterday. They were entering homes and messing things up on the 17th floor,” said Rajshri Rao, chairman of the society.