Mar 05 - GSD Questions Government Monkey Management

apesThe GSD Opposition has today questioned whether the Government has lost its grip on reality when it issued the press release last week stating that it would be using noise makers around urban ‘hot spots’ in a bid to dissuade Barbary Macaques from frequenting the area and asking residents not be alarmed if they hear loud ‘bangs’ at random times throughout the day. 

The Opposition points out that the different troops of Barbary Macaques causing the problems are well established in some of these urban areas.  Gibraltar has no jungles or forests, and given the overpopulation of Macaques, using noise in one urban area will simply move the problem to another one. 

Jaime Netto, GSD spokesman for the Environment said: “If it were not so serious because of the dangers and nuisance this is creating for residents and children in particular, it would be laughable.  You might be able to shift the troop currently accosting residents of Laguna to Moorish Castle Estate and then perhaps from there to somewhere else, but what are you going to do when they cause a nuisance further down the line?  Are you then going to scare them back down again?  It’s almost the political equivalent of the famous duke of York, marching the troops up to the top of the hill and then marching them down again.  The Government needs to get a grip and offer people real solutions”.

The problem is that the numbers of Barbary Macaques are too high for the Upper Rock to sustain and they need to be brought down to manageable levels and historically there have only been two ways to do that; exportation or culling.

In the context of exportation, the Opposition notes that at the last session of Parliament, the Minister did not intimate that the exportation of these animals was imminent, when asked what measures were being taken to deal with the issue. The Opposition is therefore surprised to note reports in the British press that the Government is to export 90 apes to deal with the problem and would ask the Government to say when this will happen, if at all.

As for culling, we have consistently said that it is a measure of last resort, a measure that Dr Cortes himself concedes that is appropriate in the management of a nature reserve. There can be no doubt that for people living in the urban areas overrun by monkeys, things are desperate indeed and it is shocking that the Government seems to be paralysed by the position adopted by Mr. Picardo when he was in Opposition, namely that culling was not an option.  Indeed, people will recall the use by Mr. Picardo of adjectives in Parliament such as “extermination” when Macaques were culled under the previous administration. 

As with the Fishing crisis, the Government appears unable to act.  The Government has to accept that they cannot continue to blame the police for not enforcing the Nature Protection Act on fishing and the public for feeding the macaques on the ape problem. 

The party calls on Mr. Picardo to accept his responsibility as Chief Minister to all Gibraltarians and to do the right thing for the people of Laguna Estate and other areas around Gibraltar.