Elephanta Island lies within a large natural harbour 7 km east of Mumbai, India, and is the site of several cave temples devoted to the Hindu deity Siva dated 4th to 9th century AD. The number, scale and quality of the bas-reliefs and sculptures within the temples, together with their uniqueness and setting, secured inscription as a World Heritage (Cultural) Site in 1987. Otherwise, the silvan nature of the island contrasts vividly with the densely populated city nearby that is largely bereft of urban greenspace. Could conservation measures for the cave temples have incidental benefit for the natural environments of the island, providing an economical means of securing a natural conservation area for Mumbai inhabitants? Exploring this apparently simple question revealed a complex situation necessitating consideration of issues well beyond the techniques of either cultural or nature conservation.