What we do the monkey a-doing too

Well, when it isn’t the “wild dogs” tearing into their livestock, it is the

monkeys raiding their crops; and our farmers aren’t remotely amused.

And as for chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society

(BAS), James Paul, who has been pushing the notion of farmers planting

more and Bajans buying substantially local, it is sheer frustration.

“We are encouraging persons to grow more of what they eat and to

start kitchen gardens, but the monkeys are reaping the crops long before

they can; and this is not occurring in traditional agricultural areas, this is

happening in residential neighbourhoods where you would not expect to

see monkeys as rampant as they are,” Mr Paul has said.

Our monkeys are making it extremely difficult for large-scale crop

farmers to reap the sweets of their labour, and the BAS chief says

something must be done urgently to stem or get the monkey population

under strict control. But exactly what?

In other jurisdictions where there have been the challenges of monkey

raiding of crops, farmers would give these primates, or any others joining

them, their due share by way of maintaining a sufficiently attractive area of

wild fruits and berries, and the like, so that they might fill themselves up

and thereafter return from whence they came.

It was tantamount to establishing a buffer zone between their natural

habitat and the farms of general food crops –– a strip of land running along

the edge of the woodland, separating it from the labours of man.

Over the course of time, selfish man thought he might put in that

buffer zone inedible crops –– like cotton –– that the monkeys might

become aware of the futility of even venturing into the area of separation

and be the more distant from their crops for market. The fact is these

primates are exceptionally smart and intelligent and would soon work out

the scheme of their reputed cousin man and, farmers would find their cash

crops under raid again.

Already some Barbadians have suggested the shooting of these

animals, a practice started once before, and railed against, and eventually

abandoned. Even so, the belief that shooting an animal or two from

a troop deterred the others in the group from return, was not fully

substantiated. In fact, killing group members only scared the others for

a short time.

Even if an entire troop was exterminated, so long as there was more of

the population, another group would take its place –– and our monkeys

are not known to be shy in making you aware they are there.

At any rate, shooting is expensive, requires expertise, is risky with

other humans around and in the environs of your target, and is extremely

noisy. Furthermore you need a licence to carry a firearm.

Of course, the animal rights activists will let you know in no uncertain

terms of your extreme and abominable cruelty. And our animal-loving

tourists would be most upset. They love showing one another our most

popular resident the Barbados Green Monkey.

Kill them out? Go figure!

Trapping them will not be much better, unless we have nurtured some

fruit habitat –– much like the Garden of Eden –– or some welcoming

colony into which we could subsequently free them.

Poisoning them will not do at all. They are not rats. And anyway, the

other members of the monkey population would know, and wreak even

more havoc on the poisoner’s place.

Here then is a most serious challenge for Mr Paul et al. He has

complained that not only are the monkeys attacking large-scale farmers,

but homeowners growing crops in their backyards as well. The little devils

make it hard for them all, the Barbados Agricultural Society CEO says by

“[biting] out of everything they find and just [throwing] it aside”.

Monkeys reportedly do this when you are hostile towards them.

Mr Paul does admit though that with more development taking place

across the island the monkeys have been forced out of their natural

habitats into ours. In such a case, the monkeys could hardly be the pests.

Frivilous as it might appear, it seems we human beings have to learn to

get along. We will have to go back to the old days of constructing a place

for them and another for us: put up that buffer zone –– of their edible

favourites –– if we will keep encroaching upon their natural territory. As

we said before, these monkeys are smart. They will know if you are

doing good.

Can’t we human beings ever live in peace?

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