Nature Foundation and R4CR Provide Update on Monkey Management Project to Allow Residents to Voice Opinions on Management Solutions for the Invasive Vervet Monkeys

Nature Foundation’s Monkey Management Project funded via the Resources for Community Resilience has recently undergone changes to the outline of the project. This change is due to time and resource constraints as well as an interest from the World Bank to continue the initial research. Due to this change, the project’s final initiatives have adapted to a social survey. The Monkey Management Project was fully supported by the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) within the first ‘Quick-Win’ round for Non-Profit organization on St. Maarten.

The newly added survey is designed to ask St. Maarten residents what they would like to see as a future management plan for the invasive vervet monkey population. The residents are given background information and details on pros and cons of each possible solution. The Nature Foundation Staff and Volunteers have been around local ‘hotspots’ such as supermarkets at various times of the day to ask a range of St. Maarteners to participate.

The R4CR program is a grant scheme that focuses exclusively on financing and strengthening of local Civil Society Organization (CSOs). The program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the St. Maarten Trust Fund. The latter is administered by the World Bank, implemented by the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau) and executed by VNGI (the Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten International) in close cooperation with Foresee Foundation-NPOwer and other local partners.

As the project is nearing the end, the Nature Foundation and Resources for Community Resilience have updated the project to ensure that there is enough preliminary research for the Monkey Management Plan. This alteration resulted in an extension of phase 1 to give optimal results. The project will now include interviews conducted with St. Maarten residents, giving them the opportunity to weigh-in on the options for management of the monkeys. These changes will provide valuable data for future in-depth projects, and will support and benefit research on invasive species on St. Maarten.

“It is very important that St. Maarten residents understand that this change is for the good of the project as well as for the island. This survey will now allow the Nature Foundation and everyone else to hear your opinions about what you believe is best for St. Maarten’s youth, agriculturists, native flora and fauna as well as the future of our island,” explains Alice Manley, Project Coordinator. “A part of this project is ensuring that the species is managed humanely by professionals. We understand that there are several different opinions about what should be done to manage the vervet monkey population, and both the Nature Foundation and R4CR want to ensure that the public’s views are included in our final project report.”

Vervet monkeys are invasive to the island of St. Maarten. While their history on St. Maarten is mostly undocumented, it is highly believed they originated at pets being traded to the island from St. Kitts and South American countries. Vervet monkeys are wild animals and require a permit to have in your possession, they can be dangerous towards humans and other animals when they feel threatened. They do not have any natural predators on the island and their population can double in size within a year. Vervet monkeys also disrupt our native species as they not only eat multiple different fruits, vegetables and leaves, but can also eat insects, birds and bird eggs. If this monkey population continues to rise, St. Maarten’s native flora and fauna are at risk of dramatically decreasing overtime.

The Nature Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to preserve and enhance the natural environment of St. Maarten for generations to come.