Residents of South Mumbai lose sleep over monkey menace

Updated: Mar 31, 2020, 08:28 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

They have reported sighting monkeys in and around the area, on trees in a garden in Colaba, and on building parapets in Cuffe Parade and Colaba

One of the monkeys seen in a residential building at Cuffe Parade two days back
One of the monkeys seen in a residential building at Cuffe Parade two days back

Locals in the city's Southern tip, Cuffe Parade and Colaba, are fearful of monkey menace, the fallout of the lockdown.

They have reported sighting monkeys in and around the area, on trees in a garden in Colaba, and on building parapets in Cuffe Parade and Colaba.

Colaba resident Subhash Motwani saw monkeys crossing an empty road in Colaba on Monday at 9 am as he was walking to the market to get some provisions.

Motwani said, "I saw four monkeys on trees on Monday morning, opposite Mody Mansion, BPT Garden, Garden Road. They crossed the road too. It was a real sight. If this was a normal, working day we could say only half in jest that these monkeys were going to work like the rest of the populace, suffering perhaps with some Monday morning blues! They went by so quickly, that I could not take a picture on my cellphone. It is a worry though to see these unattended monkeys on the road. It makes one think how many more like these there must be. I have warned residents to be careful, they could get inside kitchens for food."

Monkey shows
Pervez Cooper from Colaba said, "It is not as if locals had not spotted monkeys in the area earlier. It may have been one or two stray monkeys. Now, we are hearing of more people seeing them, pictures and warnings are popping up on local chat groups. Colaba used to have several madaaris (trainers). These monkey trainers were seen carting the animals to Gateway of India, holding shows for tourists who flocked there. With the lockdown, many of these madaaris may have left their animals behind and have moved out to their homes even out of the city, who knows? The monkeys are now foraging for food in what is familiar terrain."

We see you!
This is one theory that is gaining currency. Anand Sheth, Hon. Secretary, Cuffe Parade Residents Association (CPRA) said residents had reported seeing monkeys on building parapets and on the awnings of a hotel in the vicinity.

Haresh Hathiramani from the area said, "though there are no reports of any aggression as yet, monkeys can be dangerous. They can enter homes, open big French windows, pilfer food or even snatch mobile phones and gadgets. If people try to stop them they may attack. With small children at home, this is a big concern."

Cooper has advised locals to take pictures if they spot them, so that they can approach authorities for some action. Nadir Karanjia, a local resident said "On Monday, I saw three of them, they came from Garden hotel compound and made their way across Sea Palace, then I lost track. I think they were looking for food, they were not aggressive." A message on a chat said that a resident had noticed a BMC mukadam clicking pictures of the monkeys in the area on Monday.

Building layout
Several living here subscribe to the theory that monkey keepers who literally put the 'bandar' into Apollo Bunder, (Gateway) have abandoned the monkeys. Concerns are heightened because Colaba has several old buildings too, with big windows and balconies. The monkeys may find their way inside through these. Residents say they may approach their area leaders if the problem becomes acute. Hathiramani said, "The Forest Depertment may have to be roped in at some point, though we will have to see if this escalates and respond accordingly."

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