Elephanta Island

Mumbai Harbour consists of several islands, one being Elephanta Island. A total of three villages are situated on the island, with a combined population of 1,200 people. Located east of Mumbai, India, the island has a total area of 6.2 square miles (2.39 sq. km). Despite the name, no elephants inhabit the area. The name “Elephanta” Island originated during the 16th century and was named by a group of Portuguese explorers upon discovering a large monolithic basalt figure resembling an elephant. However, before this discovery, the island was known as “Gharapuri” Island, meaning “place of caves.” Dense amounts of tamarind, palm and mango trees cover most of the island. Although a variety of wildlife does exist on the island, it is infamous for being home to Macaque and Rhesus Macaque, two species of Old World Monkeys. These primates often steal valuables and food items from tourists and locals.


Next, to humans, Macaques are the most widely distributed primate genus. The geographical range includes regions of Japan, Southern Europe, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent. A total of 23 species of Macaques exist, all of which inhabit areas all around the world. In some instances, the varying physical characteristics of one species are more easily distinguishable than others. Their diets are primarily frugivorous, but include the consumption of seeds, tree bark, leaves, flowers and other forms of vegetation. Similar to many other primate species, the macaques utilize an intricate kind of social hierarchy. Regardless of species, all social groups of macaque form around dominant females. For instance, this social structure allows higher-level individuals to remove food from the mouths of those belonging to a lower status.


The Rhesus Macaque resides in many parts of Asia, including Elephanta Island, India. These primates inhabit various environments ranging from forests, grasslands and areas within close range of human settlements. The Rhesus macaque is typically brown or grey, weighs between 12 to 17 lbs (5.4 to 7.7 kg) and has a very distinct pink face. With the farthest geographic distribution of all nonhuman primates, these old-world monkeys also reside in regions of high altitude reaching up to 8,202 feet (2,500 m). Their diet primarily consists of vegetation such as fruit, roots, bark, cereals, seeds and buds. Food is stored temporarily in specialized pouch-like cheeks. According to scientific research, the Rhesus Macaque frequently displays sophisticated cognitive abilities. Behavior demonstrating self-awareness and the comprehension of simple rules are several examples. Groups known as troops consist of anywhere between 20-200 males and females.