Saturday, 2 March 2013

Macaques go ape with big bangs

GIBRALTAR If you have been near the areas of Bastion or Laguna lately, you may well have been startled - not to say stunned - by loud bangs. No need for alarm, says Government. In the knowledge that noise is a good deterrent, this is the practical part of a new initiative from the Department of the Environment, with the support of the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic and the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, aimed not only at raising awareness of the consequences of feeding the apes, but also, of getting them to go back up the Rock rather than populate the town centre and outlying estates. The bangs are scheduled for the next two weeks in different areas of Gibraltar. However, the initiative by Environment is to last>>>a lot longer.

Called ‘Get our monkeys back to nature’ and started earlier this week, the initiative's objective is also to encourage the public to cooperate in a concerted drive to get the Macaque apes back to living on wild and on officially provisioned food. One of the greatest problems is that people feed them inside (and outside) the wild areas they are supposed to inhabit. Not only is the feeding uncontrolled but the apes can be very dangerous, as has been proven time and again with attacks on disapprehensive tourists.

According to a press release from Convent Place, awareness leaflets are being distributed in all the monkey hotspots and information signs are being placed in the more problematic areas.

Increased patrolling by Police also forms part of the new initiative centred on the wider Barbary Macaque Management plan. The plan, 
which builds on expert advice provided by local and renowned international experts alike, is being finalised by the Department of the Environment and includes a range of measures that will shortly be announced by the Government.  

The leaflet provides facts on the monkeys as well as a guide to behaviour signals, aimed at helping people interpret monkey warning signals. 

Actions already being implemented are the placing of self-closing doors in bin enclosures in Laguna Estate and the monkey-proofing of bins in the area of the Gibraltar College. The public is asked to ensure that monkeys are not fed and that rubbish is put out at the correct times in closed enclosures. 

The Government is fully committed to ensuring that  our macaques no longer cause any nuisance issues to the general public. Public participation is nevertheless essential and the public is reminded that feeding the macaques is a criminal offence punishable with a maximum fine of £500 since this activity encourages the macaques to roam outside the Nature  Reserve.

For further information or reporting of illegal feeding please contact the feedback centre on telephone number: (00350) 200 65964. 

Minister for the Environment Dr John Cortes said, “We are all aware of the 
concern that people have with the longstanding problem of monkeys in built up areas.  Many measures are being prepared, but public co-operation and understanding of the situation is crucial.  We need the community to ensure 100% compliance with the law so that monkeys get no food in built up areas.” 

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