Farmers cry out for monkey hunters
“WHERE HAVE ALL the bounty hunters gone?”
That is the question on the lips of some St Thomas farmers who said they are trying their utmost to win the war against monkeys.
They have been experiencing crop theft and damage by the primates for years in an apparent never-ending saga.
“I am losing the battle against the monkeys,” Hazel Walters, a vegetable farmer in Vault Road, Welchman Hall, told These Fields And Hills.
“No matter how I have tried, they continue to raid my farm.”
In 2016, Walters, who is known for supplying an abundance of sorrel around Christmas in the Barbados Association of Retailers,
Vendors and Entrepreneurs temporary market in Cheapside, The City, lost an entire field of sorrel to the pests. In 2017, he barely managed to get any of the produce out to market, but last year, he was not so lucky. Walters said he became so discouraged that at times, he did not feel like planting anymore.
“If they keep on reaping my crops before me, it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep on planting,” he said. “They destroyed my sorrel and I didn’t get none at all. Now they going for my green peas.”
Rudy Hamblin, who grows vegetables and fruits in the same district, said the animals were no longer afraid of humans and would sit in the field and comfortably eat a farmer’s produce.
Both farmers said they had seen troops of monkeys, comprised of 14 or more. They usually sat in nearby trees and watched the movements of the farmers. After a while, they developed a routine based on what they observed.
The farmers said they have tried using chicken manure and newspaper clippings to prevent the creatures from stealing their crops, and the ruse worked to some degree.
Hamblin said he erected wooden poles between garden beds and hung newspaper clippings on a line.
Grow extra crops
Based on the frequency of sightings, the farmers questioned whether the bounty system was still in play.
Last year, members of the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Federation, who hunt monkeys, were calling for an increase in the $15 fee for killing the animals. The farmers agreed with their concern, saying their contribution was greatly needed.
They asked that hunters make themselves more available to farmers.
Farmers in Bryan’s Road, who grow bananas and vegetables, also complained about the pests. One suggested that each farmer grow extra crops, especially those monkeys loved such as fruit and sweet potatoes, to minimise the amount of damage in every garden.
Another farmer, Tyrone Clarke, said he had to tighten security measures and invest in big dogs to scare away the creatures. He also agreed that an increased presence by hunters would help alleviate
TYRONE CLARKE’S garden pumpkin was bitten by monkeys.
RUDY HAMBLIN said monkeys hated pungent odours and advised other farmers to put manure around the perimeters of their gardens and between the beds. Inset, Hazel Walters showing the tracks of the primates in a garden bed.