Black Immigrant Daily News
Action for Primates, a UK-based project that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates globally, is urging the Governor of Sint Maarten to abandon plans to kill the entire population of vervets (African green monkeys), believing that such drastic and inhumane action will not only be ineffective, but it will also tarnish the reputation of Sint Maarten as a popular Caribbean holiday destination.
A letter has been sent to Governor Ajamu G. Baly by Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, co-founder of Action for Primates and a veterinarian with many years practical experience working with non-human primates, including reproductive control, as well as advising on education and humane methods of resolving issues related to negative interactions between people and non-human primates.
In the letter, Dr Buyukmihci points out the inhumanity of the capturing and killing of hundreds of vervets, as well as the ineffectiveness of using such lethal means to resolve the issue of conflicts between the monkeys and people. In particular, he noted:
– “It is stated that the vervets in question will be trapped and killed over the next three years. But, as this is being done over this length of time, there will be an increase in pressure for the vervets to reproduce. It is almost certain that there will be a surge in births, increasing the number of individuals.”
– “Regardless of the timeline, however, given the Sint Maarten terrain, it is highly unlikely that every vervet will be captured, allowing those remaining to continue to reproduce.”
– “There is also the issue of vervets residing in neighbouring French St Martin. There will be nothing to keep them from expanding their range into Sint Maarten.”
Instead, Dr Buyukmihci advocates the adoption of measures that can be taken to humanely reduce the negative interactions between vervets and people without having to resort to killing the vervets, and provides a comprehensive review of the issue. Considerations for non-lethal resolution include reproductive control such as sterilisation combined with education programmes to help the public deal with and prevent negative interactions with monkeys.
Rather than dismiss vervets as a ‘pest’ or a nuisance and killing them, Action for Primates appeals to the government and communities of Sint Maarten to adopt a humane approach to the situation.
The fact that vervets are non-native is irrelevant. Not only have they been on Sint Maarten for over 400 years, having been brought there by people, and are now part of the ecosystem, they are living, sentient individuals who share many of the important characteristics we value in ourselves. They experience pain, suffering and distress similarly to people.
It is not their fault that they are there and they should not have to pay for this human-caused problem with their lives. With the globally growing acknowledgement of the negative impact human activities are having on the planet and its inhabitants, it is more important than ever that we reassess the way we not only treat non-human primates, but how we humanely resolve negative interactions.
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