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Sunday, September 28, 2008


Over the years I have written a lot of column inches on Gibraltar’s macaques. The last two pieces were in April were I stated: “Culling is a hot topic at the moment as the people of Canada have found out to their apparent surprise with the high profile coverage given to the licensed slaughter of the seals on that country’s ice fields.

Now could Gibraltar be the next in the international spotlight after the government’s decision to cull a number of the Rock’s macaque population. Gibraltar’s minister for the environment, Ernest Britto, has announced a culling of around 25 apes in the Catalan and Sandy Bay area. This action has been decided upon following repeated complaints from residents.

The famous macaques have been roaming wild in theses area rummaging through rubbish bins and creating a public nuisance. Britto stated that once the cull was completed the overall ape population would be around 200.”

Well in to that debate charged a lot of people. Linda Wolfe of the Department of Anthropology at East Carolina University in the USA said she was disheartened to learn that Gibraltar is planning to kill 30 of the Barbary macaques. She appealed to the government for the decision to be reviewed.

The UK’s International Primate Protection League revealed that it has been investigating the plight of the macaques to ascertain whether the cull would go ahead. The organization said it was considering calling on UK citizens to boycott visiting Gibraltar until the government pledged to stop using culling as a method of population control and instead invested in alternative methods. GONSH (that is responsible for caring for the macaques), the GSPCA and ESG environmental group all voiced their opposition to the cull.

Then all went quite apart I guess from various apes being shot or the cry of anguish from those family members left behind.

That is to last week when the matter was again raised in Gibraltar’s Parliament. The minister of the environment, Ernest Britto, had refused to give information on the cull as he deemed it not to be in the “national interest”.

This saw a big beast of the Rock’s political jungle, Fabian Picardo, go ape. The opposition spokesman who includes the environment in his portfolio blasted: “This is an issue on which there is a clear partisan division, with the GSD insisting on killing apes because they have not been successful in managing the problem of the growing ape population and the Opposition being firmly on the side of better management of the ape population.”

He added that the Minister’s answers to the Parliament “belie the fact that clearly the GSD government has authorised the killing of a number of apes since the matter was last debated in the Parliament. Given that the GSD have gone ahead with the killing of apes in the face of both national and international protest, it is really quite unacceptable for Minister Britto not to confirm the number of licences he has signed for the killing of apes. This is a very serious issue affecting the killing of sentient mammals simply because the GSD have not known how to deal with this issue more effectively.”

Fabian Picardo then struck a chord which I am sure resonates with every person and organisation that has the macaques’ welfare at heart. He stated: “The Minister should not be seeking to hide behind ‘secrecy’ and purported ‘national interest’, which is actually just his own interest, to avoid providing the public with the information on the number of apes he has licensed the killing of.”

If the apes could speak I’m sure they would shout “Hear, Hear.”

1 comment:

PROSPERO said...

An interesting side note to this: http://www.europasur.es/article/gibraltar/239976/hallan/huelva/mono/gibraltar/oculto/coche.html