Meet Mumbai's "spiderman", a man who spends his afternoons looking for arachnids in Aarey Milk Colony

Rajesh Sanap is the “spiderman” of Mumbai. Almost every afternoon, the ecologist roams around in Aarey Milk Colony in search of spiders. In the course of their evolution, spiders developed various tricks in order to hide from predators. But the ecologist is determined to find them all.

Crouched on the ground, near the roots of a tree, Rajesh Sanap pushes the leaves aside. Right at the spot, some clay is mixed with small sticks, forming a strange round structure. This is the lid a trapdoor spider has built to seal its cavity. A hundred and ten years after it was first found in Matheran, Sanap found this type of tarantula in the Aarey Milk Colony — a special highlight for him, and reason enough for publishing a scientific paper. The researcher has also discovered completely new species here, which he examines and describes briefly in his scientific work.

Besides 300 species of spiders, many other tiny insects, larger snakes and leopards live in Aarey Milk Colony, which is located right next to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. These animals easily cross over into Aarey from the national Park, so the area plays an important role as a buffer zone.

But since the city wants to develop it, this unique forest-like pocket is under threat: Spiders could lose their habitat and with them, all the other species, even those that are yet to be discovered, will be lost as well.

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Updated Date: Jan 15, 2018 20:07:39 IST

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