Who’s that in my bed? A friendly neighbourhood IIT monkey

Maybe they want to study too.
Maybe they want to study too.
Image: Reuters/Arko Datta
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The campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), is one of the greenest zones in the city.

The engineering college, one of India’s best, overlooks the Powai lake and is on the fringes of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a wildlife reserve in the northern end of India’s financial capital. So, there is plenty of flora and fauna around the institute which attracts butterflies, snakes, and occasionally even leopards.

However, it is the rowdy monkeys who have been wreaking havoc across the campus.

If the hostel rooms aren’t locked properly, the pesky primates enter, “destroy clothes and valuables,” and tinker with electronic equipment, IIT-B student Chinmay Sankhe wrote in Insight, the college magazine, on Sept. 12. “The monkeys are taking over the campus hostel,” Sankhe wrote.

Some students have even caught the simians sleeping on their beds. “They also upturn waste-bins and scatter the trash in the entire wing if they don’t find something to eat in them,” Sankhe wrote.

While the monkeys have lived in and around the campus for years, their population seems to have increased lately, students say.  Over the last couple of years, the number of complaints received by forest officials has shot up across the city. An IIT-B spokesperson said this increase in the population can only be verified by the forest department. “IIT-B has complained to the Bombay Municipal Corporation and the forest department,” she said in an email.

The students say the institute’s maintenance council has advised them to not ”feed the monkeys,” alluding to the fact that the animals typically enter the hostel in search of food.

In another absurd advice, “bursting crackers in wings has been recommended as a temporary solution to this problem as of now,” Sankhe wrote in the Insight magazine.

Students in IITs across India share their campuses with an array of animals. For instance, IIT-Chennai boasts of wild animal species such as the blackbuck, jackals, spotted deer, and monkeys. The institute has even put in place a list of dos and don’ts for students vis a vis these species.

In IIT-B, where students engage in activities like vaccinating dogs and maintaining a database on them, a solution to its monkey problem remains elusive.