Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 20th , (ZIZ News)
By: Chaïra Flanders
The Ministry of Agriculture hosted a Monkey Trapping Workshop on Thursday November 19 at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room in La Guerite.
Shooters, trappers and farmers on the island were all in attendance at the one day workshop where a special presentation was given by featured guest from the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation, Alexis Nisbett.
He said St. Kitts and Nevis has been presented with a unique opportunity to supply the Green Vervet Monkey which is commonly referred to as the “Greens” on the international market. ZIZ understands that in the U.S and Europe, a large supply of monkeys were sourced from China and India. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries like India and China have banned the exportation of lab monkeys because labs have been racing to create a coronavirus vaccine.
Mr. Nisbett said that this new demand for monkeys now gives St. Kitts and Nevis the opportunity to consider supplying the animals for research.
“So what has happened in the last couple of months is, there’s an increased demand for the St. Kitts Greens for research application and so we have approached the Ministry of Agriculture to see how then we can partner with the ministry on St. Kitts and on Nevis to further develop the trapping network to create an employment opportunity for those who would do it and at the same time, also assist the famers in areas where they have been significantly impacted by the monkeys on their farms in particular.
He added that a significant effort is being made to ensure that farmers most affected by the Green Vervet monkey receive assistance with the additional placement of traps.
“What we have agreed to do, in those areas where farmers continue to report significant crop damage to their farms then we are now working closely with them to get traps constructed in those locations to in the near term, help with the problem of the crop predation by the animals to the farms so that is ongoing. We have recently, at least Biomedical, we have had similar discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis and we have identified a network there. We have supplied materials, primarily fish pot wire and the control drug and the syringes needed to sedate monkeys once you trap them and to safely handle them while you get them transported to the research facilities”
Trapper, Mr. Glen Guishard also delivered remarks and spoke in detail about the guidelines of trapping monkeys.
“Just a few guidelines about building traps, it’s simple and you can use reusable materials which is the cheapest way. You can get a lot of that at the dump but you can buy your own material. It can be constructed as steel which I encourage more to construct it with stronger materials because we have a lot of wild pigs running around and you can construct it of aluminium or wood and you just put the wire around it, you either tie the wire to it or you staple it if you’re using wood. The door is very simple, it is a sliding door and it drops down with a little pin and that’s mainly it”, he explained.
He said the monkeys can easily adapt and are learning how to manoeuvre around the traps and therefore means that farmers and trappers must stay one step ahead and become more creative if they are to control the monkey population.
A practical demonstration session immediately followed the presentations and gave participants the opportunity to learn more about monkey traps through hands on instructions.
The workshop was held under the theme, “Supporting Our Farmers, Protecting Our Farms”.