The boom in the construction industry has hit the livelihood of coconut climbers
In a fast-changing landscape where traditional trades are vanishing with the advance of technology, coconut tree climbers are living on the edge. The age-old vocation of tree climbing is on the verge of extinction due to widespread construction activities in the city leaving little or no space for growing coconut trees.
K. Rajendran, a 39-year-old coconut tree climber, who began climbing trees when he was 15, has seen better days.
The native of Salem, who was taught by his father, says the tools of their trade are the trademark climbing rope taped with animal leather and rubber material taken from worn-out cycle tyres and a tool box made of coconut branches for storing the sickle and other tools.
Talking about the nature of the trade which involves climbing 8 to 10 trees per day with the charge being Rs. 100-Rs. 150 per tree, Rajendran says they work from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. with the rest of the day spent on regaining their sapped energy.
Coconut climbers, whose job is at times dangerous because of snakes and insects, fear only one thing though – rain. “On rainy days, we don’t work, as it is not possible to climb the slippery trees,” rues the coconut climber.
Even as the destruction wrought by construction activity is a constant factor of life, Rajendran’s only hope is that there would be enough coconut trees to climb, at least during his lifetime.
Keywords: coconut tree climbers