The small back yard garden I have faces the biggest threat from troops of monkeys on the prowl looking for goodies. Having gotten wise to their habits, we have been taking many precautions.
1. Never, repeat never, leave any door of the house open.
2. Never leave dustbins out.
3. Always cover your compost pit.
4. Never, repeat never, offer any food to them, even if a baby monkey steals your heart with its pranks.
So far so good. But if you have ripening tomatoes/ bananas/mangoes in your precious bit of land which you call your backyard garden, how does one protect them? Seeing monkeys carelessly tasting and throwing away your hard worked tomatoes and brinjals (grown organically and examined daily with such anticipation that will put many farmers to shame) breaks any kitchen gardener's heart.
So this time when the mango blooms appeared on the sole mango tree at the centre of my kitchen garden, many minds went to work to think of ways to protect the future mangoes.
Make a green house, said one. What about the birds in the garden, how will they fly about? This suggestion was vetoed out by me.
Light a firecracker with a big boom, came another suggestion. This was immediately accepted. So now on, whenever one was alerted about monkeys in the vicinity , a firecracker went off and monkeys scampered away. The alert came from babblers and bulbuls who have made my garden their property. But often the monkeys visited when we were not around and in stealth. The half eaten vegetables strewn around were the only proof of their visit.
As the small mangoes started appearing, more human brains started worrying about their future. "Only a couple of mangoes will survive, that too with luck", pronounced the koodawalla who looked at the tree with interest everyday he came to collect the garbage.
Cover each mango with muslin cloth, suggested our gardener after due deliberation. We had tried this the the year before with little success. The mangoes looked terribly unhappy at the imprisonment, for one. For the other, monkeys figured out the mangoes were covered and managed tearing apart the covers.
Then one day, our maid came with two toy guns, one a fairly big one and another a small one. Tie this up high enough so that monkeys can see them from a distance, she suggested. If scarecrows in fields can scare away birds, the sight of the gun will scare away monkeys, she reasoned.
I was ready to try anything to protect the mangoes. This suggestion seemed harmless to all concerned. So we implemented it.
It is now two full months since we put up the gun. The monkeys pass through our garden once in a while. They hurry through without looking left or right. So is the scaregun working? May be it is all too early to declare the experiment a success. But then it can well be. Monkeys are clever beings. Many people have started using toy guns to scare away monkeys and they associate big booms with guns. So may be ?
Here are some pictures taken today. We are taking a chance and letting the mangoes ripen on the tree. Hope the monkeys will leave them alone.