Police Will Be Tougher On Monkey Feeders

The Gibraltar Police Authority (GPA) is reacting on a public request and has asked the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) to guarantee "appropriate action to reduce the unauthorised feeding of Barbary Macaques", the Gibraltar Chronicle wrote today. The request comes as a result of research, which suggests that this interaction leads the monkey to roam residential areas in search for food.

As a result to complaints of residents, several roaming monkeys had to be culled as a "last resort" in the past, the Chronicle wrote, adding that recent research with one troop has shown "that the monkeys, if left to their own devices, tend to limit the extent of their roaming in search of natural food". The monkeys, as said in the paper, stayed in the Nature Reserve - researchers could make out more than 30 plants and insects serving as natural food sources.

Illegal Feeding For More Than a Century

As highlighted in the Chronicle, feeding the monkeys has been illegal for more than a century, but only one person has ever been convicted; "many tourists regard feeding the Barbary Macaques as part of their Gibraltar visit and are sometimes even encouraged to do so".
Now this might change - even if ever so slightly: Police Commissioner Louis Wink was quoted in the Gibraltar Chronicle saying the RGP would act on the request, though he does not think the RGP "should now embark on a hunt for people feeding the apes ... My personal opinion is that the relevant authorities should engage in a public awareness campaign to warn people that the possibility of prosecution for that type of offence is now increased because the police have been asked by the community through the Gibraltar Police Authority to intervene directly."

A Halt To Unauthorised Feeding: A Warmly Welcomed Step

Our charity certainly welcomes the request. We have long stressed the importance of treating the monkeys as wild animals. Feeding them chocolate, crisps and even fast food have several undesired effects. Firstly, monkeys then tend to roam into residential areas, which has lead to very unwelcomed measures, as described above. Secondly, the interaction with humans disturbs the order within the troops. Thirdly, the unhealthy diet causes them earlier sexual maturity and tooth decay. Finally, it is inappropriate to treat the monkey as a pet. It definitively is not. It is a primate, which – even if usually peaceful and curious – is destined to protect his young ones or other troop members, so treat it with respect and do not involuntarily threaten it.
According to the Chronicle, "addressing the underlying causes of nuisance behaviour by Gibraltar's monkeys will benefit them in the long term". We fully agree.