Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 07, 2016 (SKNIS): The advantages as well as the disadvantages of the Federation being home to the green vervet monkey are being analyzed at a Monkey Summit coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and attended by diverse stakeholders from July 05 to 07, 2016.
Director of Agriculture, Melvin James, noted some of the benefits of being one of only two Caribbean countries that is home to the green vervet monkey.
“We would recognize that the monkeys have been with us for several hundreds of years, and over the years they have moved from a state of oblivion to a point of significance,” Mr. James said. “Significance because they have become a part of our country. … They in more ways than one, bring economic benefits to tourism, to the visitor experience and to what makes St. Kitts unique.”
The negative aspects of having the monkey resident in the Federation could not be overlooked.
“They have not only had positive influences, but we have come to a point where there seems to be, as it were, a conflict as it relates to the tree species and agriculture,” Mr. James said. “It has become necessary for us to continue our dialogue and to formalize our discussions on how best to deal with our situation, and that is why we’re here.”
Presenters at the opening of the summit also included Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Local Monkey Task Force Coordinator Gene Knight, Kiron Phillip of the Nevis Department of Agriculture, and Xyomara Carretero-Pinzon, a biologist and member of a three-person team of experts from Colombia sent to assist with the monkey situation. The two additional Colombian consultants are Robin Andres and Marta Lucia Bueno Angulo.
Summit participants include representatives from the sectors of tourism, education and health, as well as institutions involved in research along with local entrepreneurs. In addition to the opening ceremony, Day One of the gathering included presentations on the “History and Current Status of the St. Kitts Vervet Monkey” by Dr. Kerry Dore; “Vervets as a Resource for Human and Animal Health and the Island Economy by Dr. Ricardo Pike; and “Ross University’s Involvement with African Green Monkeys on St. Kitts and Nevis” by Dr. Luis Cruz-Martinez.
Other topics which were addressed include: “The African Vervet Monkey, a Major Challenge to Upland Farming on St. Kitts and Nevis (the St. Kitts Perspective)” by Melvin James; “Damages Caused by Monkeys on Nevis” by Floyd Liburd; and “The Colombian Perspective” by Robin Andres, Xyomara Carretero-Pinzon and Marta Lucia Bueno Angulo. The matters brought up by each presenter were thoroughly discussed by the participants.
Day Two consisted of field visits in both St. Kitts and Nevis to observe the monkeys in their natural habitat.
Day Three, the Colombian consultants are expected to present their findings and a proposal will be provided as to how humans and monkeys can beneficially exist together.