Sint Maarten is the southern region of the Caribbean Island nation, Saint Martin, divided between France and the Netherlands.
Its reputation as a popular Caribbean holiday destination, however, is likely to become tarnished following reports that the government plans to kill the entire population of free-living vervets.
Funding is to be given to Nature Foundation St Maarten, an NGO in the country, to capture and kill hundreds of monkeys over the next three years.
Action for Primates and other animal protection and wildlife groups are appealing to the Governor to abandon this cruel and ineffective plan.
Instead, they are urging the government to take a compassionate approach to the situation by adopting humane and effective methods for resolving any issues with the vervets.
Why the Government Wants to Kill These Monkeys
The reasons given for killing the monkeys are that the animals are considered to be a “nuisance” and there are concerns about the population expanding.
Negative interactions between non-human primates and people are a growing issue facing many communities and governments. Such issues arise primarily due to human population growth and ever-increasing expansion into and destruction of wildlife habitat, resulting in competition over food resources.
The monkeys are often negatively labeled as ’pests’ and lethal means are used to deal with any problems. The population of vervets in 2020 was estimated to be about 450. There is a lack of conservation consideration given to vervets; partly because the species is not ‘native’ to Sint Maarten.
The vervets were thought to have been brought to the region by people hundreds of years ago as ‘pets’ and free-living individuals were reportedly first sighted on Sint Maarten in the 1970s.
Vervets (also called African green monkeys) (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) are highly social animals with strong family bonds; living in troops of up to dozens of individuals, with a distinct hierarchy that gives each monkey a place and role. They are known for their complex vocal calls, distinct for different predators and situations.
This article by Sarah Kite was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 2 March 2023.
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