April 15, 2008

Monkeys in Gibraltar Set to be Culled

A group of almost 25 monkeys in the British colony of Gibraltar are expected to be killed due to the potential threat they pose to humans in the area, according to The Rock's tourist minister.

"The decision was not taken lightly," said Ernest Britto, Gibraltar's Tourist Minister. "It is a last resort."

Monkeys and macaques have coexisted with residents in the area for quite some time. The monkeys have become a national symbol for Gibraltar, but one pack became unruly in the tourism hotspots of Catalan Bay and Sandy Bay.

"Children are frightened, people cannot leave their windows open for fear of the monkeys stealing, apes can bite and contact with them runs the risk of salmonella or hepatitis," said Britto.

The colony has attempted to control the monkey population over the past six years by using birth control, but the process has been ineffective and taken too much time.

Britto told Gibraltar's parliament that the culling of 25 macaques would take some time because they must first be persuaded into cages before they are sedated and killed. After the first 25 are killed, the official monkey population will rest at around 200, he said.

Franco Ostuni, general manager of the Caleta Hotel, said guests have complained about vandalism caused by the monkeys that were searching for food.

"What has to stop is the damage that apes are doing to Gibraltar, private properties and individuals without anyone taking responsibility for it," he said.

But the International Primate Protection League is not on board with the initiative. The group said it might ask tourists to boycott Gibraltar if the culling persists.

"It is clear that the Government of Gibraltar is still not managing their population of macaques in a responsible manner, despite the fact that they undoubtedly boost the nation's economy as arguably their most popular tourist attraction," said Helen Thirlway, head of IPPL in the UK.


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