Nature Foundation St. Maarten Starts Monkey Management Research Funded by the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) Grant Scheme.

The Nature Foundation St. Maarten receives funding from the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) Grant Scheme to execute a Monkey Management Research Project and hires project coordinator Alice Manley to execute the research. The research project will be focused on developing a durable Management Plan which can be implemented over the years (if funding is secured) to manage and reduce the invasive vervet monkeys. Research will be executed to assess the population abundance and the best ways to capture and manage the Vervet monkey population, these established methods can then be applied long term to reduce the population and to prevent a recurring population increase in the future.

The quick round funding received from R4CR is for a six-month research project, therefore the choice was made to concentrate on developing a solid long-term management plan, as short-term solutions of culling will lead to similar monkey population levels in a few years. Vervet monkeys and other invasive species are known for their negative impacts on native species and the environment, they invade the area adapting easily and they have no predators keeping their population in control. This leads to high reproduction and survival rates, and population levels only being controlled by food availability in an area. Therefore, it is important to establish methods to manage and reduce the population over time, as invasive species like the vervet monkey easily recover from culling, they reproduce quickly and have no natural predators on St. Maarten. Making invasive species management extremely complicated, a well-known problem on many Caribbean islands.  

“We are grateful to be able to assist the community and agriculturists to develop durable solutions to hopefully long-term reduce the monkey population. We understand the frustration of gardens and home-growers, nevertheless the research collected during this portion of the Monkey Management Project is essential to tackle the problem of this invasive species. If we do not have reliable data, then any project implemented to control the population would risk failure as it would be doubtful if the method is effective. During this study, we will execute trials on different ways to manage the population to see which is the most effective for cost, time, and management. Our goal is to create a long term and reliable solution, not a band aid to the problem that will have to be re-addressed within a few short years. Born and raised on St. Maarten, Alice Manley obtained a Bachelor in Animal Behavior and will take on the challenge to execute this research,” stated the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.

For those residents most affected by the vervet monkeys there are some short-term relief options that can be implemented at home. Methods such as using realistic rubber snakes to periodically move around a garden affected by monkeys can deter the animals from entering the area. If a vervet monkey comes within a close proximity hosing the monkeys down with water may cause them to flee. A perimeter may also be created by planting trees/plants that monkeys do not enjoy such as chillies and gingers, or placing an animal safe electric fence around your property that you can turn on during their active hours (early morning and late afternoon/evening). Always remember that vervet monkeys are wild animals and should not be approached, maintain a minimum one-meter distance at all times.

“The home-growers of St. Maarten and the residents who are trying to be as sustainable as possible are facing a large and difficult problem. This invasive species has become such a nuisance that it is a widely known frustration. To ensure that this issue has a long-term and reliable solution, a data driven study is necessary to help the future generations. A quick fix without any data may help the issue for a short time, but the species will eventually re-populate and become a nuisance again. St. Maarten has a unique environment and ecosystem, so it requires a solution that is specialized for our island and home,” explained Project Coordinator Alice Manley.

The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) is an invasive species to the island of St. Maarten. The vervet monkey was introduced to St. Maarten by humans many years ago and has since then increased in population size drastically. As the vervet monkey population has grown concerns regarding their impact on local crops, and threat to domestic animals, and even instances of harassing St. Maarten residents have increased. The negative impacts this invasive species has on the island’s environment and agriculture will continuously progress if no action is taken. It is crucial to start work on this issue in order to benefit St. Maarten’s sustainability and resilience. The effects of an invasive species on a small island such as St. Maarten will be detrimental if there is no clear plan. Therefore, the Foundation is pursuing the first step in this issue, which is the research and data collection. With this information a management plan can be produced which is cost effective, humane, and with the highest possible rate of success.

If you have frequent monkeys around your residence or questions or concerns regarding the project contact the Nature Foundation at projects@naturefoundationsxm.org.

Photo by Lucinda Frye

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