AAP opposes extermination of vervet monkeys on Sint Maarten and offers help

Yesterday we received the tragic news (The Guardian) that the government of Sint Maarten wants to order the capture and euthanasia of at least 450 vervet monkeys. AAP considers euthanasia to be the very last resort if the damage is unacceptable and all other methods have failed. Based on what we’re reading now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That is why we urgently appeal to Sint Maarten to refrain from culling these monkeys. AAP offers its expertise for developing a sterilization project and gladly helps making this financially possible together.

AAP was approached about this issue in the summer of 2021. Nature Foundation St. Maarten had completed the Monkey Management Project and advised to start killing the estimated 450 vervet monkeys soon. The main arguments are that extermination would be the most time and cost effective and received the most support from island residents. The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) of Sint Maarten has pledged about $ 55,000 annually to stop the nuisance caused by the monkeys within three years. According to Nature Foundation St. Maarten, that is enough to euthanize the animals, but not to sterilize them.

At the time, AAP advised to opt for an animal-friendly method and to raise money together with other animal welfare organizations to make this possible. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Lethal injection
That is why we reiterate our position today: these vervet monkeys were brought to Sint Maarten by people centuries ago. It is immoral to give the animals, which have thrived there for ages, a lethal injection now because tourists and islanders are bothered by them. We endorse the advice of the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa (see news article) to investigate how this human-animal conflict can be tackled by, for example, providing suitable food in natural areas without human interference. Our experience shows that knowledge about the natural behavior and needs of wild animals enables effective measures to reduce nuisance without drastic interventions.

Knowledge and resources
At the same time, we understand that this primate population cannot continue to grow indefinitely. It takes more funding and time to make the animals sterile, but AAP gladly helps making this possible together with supporters and donors. We are contacting Nature Foundation St. Maarten about this and hope to bring positive news about the fate of these beautiful wild animals soon.

AAP has been sustainably improving the welfare of primates for over 50 years and has been involved in similar projects (e.g. off the coast of Africa, in Nepal and currently in Morocco) to address issues between humans and wildlife while saving animal lives.

Vervet monkey Violetta at the AAP rescue center in Almere, The Netherlands

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