PHILIPSBURG--Having received no response to multiple attempts to reach the St. Maarten government to offer support and expertise in exploring non-lethal solutions for the monkey population on the island, a global group of leading primate protection and animal welfare experts led by Born Free USA said they are delighted to have been able to connect with local community members on this important issue. The primatologists stand by their promise to offer assistance free of charge.
“In the last month, we have begun tentative discussion and collaboration with community members impacted by the monkeys and hope to work together to explore mitigation strategies and alternatives to the government cull,” said Dr. Liz Tyson, programmes director of Born Free USA, a leading wildlife charity that works to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs.
The organization recognizes the challenging situation on St. Maarten, in particular for farmers and home growers. “No solution to this problem can be found without meaningful collaboration and engagement with the people of St. Maarten and we are pleased to see those vital first steps towards this being made,” Tyson said.
A global group of leading primate protection and animal welfare experts led by Born Free USA offered their support to the government of St. Maarten in February 2023 in a bid to halt plans to kill a troop of free-living green monkeys on the island. In a letter sent to Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and infrastructure Egbert Doran, the group offered to implement a humane sterilisation programme in place of the lethal cull.
Primate experts expressed concerns over the research behind the proposed cull. “The St. Maarten Nature Foundation makes the erroneous claim that the monkey population can double in the space of one year. That would be impossible given what we know about green monkey gestation periods and inter-birth intervals and shows a disturbing lack of understanding of primate behaviour and reproduction.”
The primate experts explained that, if the population of 450 monkeys is correct, the troop grows at around 10% per year, meaning that the level of population expansion feared [by Nature Foundation – Ed.] will take almost a decade. This, say the experts, allows the government plenty of time to explore non-lethal control as a humane and effective response.