Mar 13 - Netto Calls on Cortes to Spell out Long Term Plans for Macaque Issue

monkeyOpposition member for the Environment, Jaime Netto, has written to Dr. John Cortes regarding this issue of the Barbary Macaques. Within the document, Mr. Netto notes, ‘I am aware that drastic solutions to the problem, such as culling animals, are problematic.

In the past, you have advised Government Ministers (myself included) of the need to cull responsibly to achieve adequate demographic and genetic management of the macaque population. Despite this, your colleagues when in Opposition campaigned against the GSD Government for having done so.

I am somewhat relieved that in the last sitting of Parliament you did acknowledge (although reluctantly) of the need to cull again. That said, what you have not yet confirmed publicly or in writing, is what the optimal number of macaques that either you or your professionals agree is adequate to maintain the biological integrity of the population in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve with minimal (or acceptable) conflict levels with the neighbouring humans.’

Commenting on contraception, Mr. Netto adds, ‘the GSD position on culling is that is has to be the last option if contraception and export of monkeys is not possible. Our understanding is that contraception has failed as a method for population control given the increasing numbers of animals. If contraception has not worked there must be information available on veterinary procedures, products used, number of females intervened etc. that would allow us in the Opposition to assess the effort.  Thus, I would be grateful if you could provide me with what has been done in this respect during the last 12 months. Also, I would appreciate to be informed of the details of the new initiative to be introduced by immunological methods, as stated by you in Parliament recently.’

With regards to the exportation of monkeys, Mr. Netto insisted that it is not a way forward. Instead, he notes, the only solution is often to remove the culprit animals. The Shadow Minister went on to insist that Given how much you have chastised the previous GSD Government in not introducing the Wildlife Wardens, given your previous role in GOHNS, why is it that something which was so important for you, has not been done despite having now been in Government for 13 months.

In conclusion, Mr. Netto added, ‘therefore, as Minister for the Environment you need to spell out what in clear terms is your short to long-term plans in order to address this important and sensitive matter. I would therefore, appreciate a full and proper response to the issues raised above, and if you don’t mind forwarding me all the advice that is being given to you on this matter, so that we could have a dialogue of equals and hopefully make headway for the benefit of people and macaques.’