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
Can’t we human beings ever live in peace?