My backyard is often a venue for a family gathering to enjoy food, young ones playing, some females grooming their young and a bit of discord between two adult members (well what family does not have a falling out between its members from time to time!). The gathering is taking place in my backyard, this family is never invited, but they come over from time to time anyway. This family gathering is by a troop of monkeys that live next door on a vacant lot which is overgrown with acacia trees and various bushes.
I know they live next door as I can often hear them early in the morning communicating with each other. The monkeys for the most part have abandoned the mountains and are living amongst us now observing us as we are observing them. I feel as if I am living in a zoo and the monkeys are coming to watch me. When I moved on to my property there were about twenty of them, now this year there are about forty of them including ten babies (that I was able to count).
Decades ago I noticed if one shouted at the monkeys they would run away and not come back for the rest of the day. But in my experience now when I shout at them and go back into my house they are back in the yard in a matter of minutes.
With increasing numbers comes a great competition for food and the tribe from next door have made my property their territory (as we know animals are territorial) and do not allow any interlopers to visit. I once watched a tense stand-off between a huge adult monkey and two younger monkeys, the older monkey was attempting to come onto my property and he tried intimidating them by standing on his hind legs and making threatening noises, the younger monkeys were not impressed with his posturing and his attempt to enter my land was thwarted. Although there is only a Tamarind tree and a Soursop tree on my property, they often come with food to eat obtained from adjacent properties. Perhaps they find the atmosphere on my property more pleasant even though I continually try to chase them away.
Aspects of their behaviour are beginning to alarm me. Three incidents on my property come to mind: one day a monkey was holding onto the window ledge looking into my bedroom (I had just finished cooking food), another time I was hanging clothes on the line and a monkey stood on his hind legs watching me at close range and finally on the 6th of February 2012 I had just taken clothes off the line and from a short distance I shouted at the young monkeys in the Tamarind tree, then I saw an adult monkey near the fence looking at me and making threatening noises. I looked up at the tree and saw that one young monkey did not leave the tree. The adult monkey ran towards me. I ran onto the front porch, meanwhile the monkey escorted the young one next door and to my amazement the adult monkey came back and stood in front of the porch making further threatening noises at me. I was fortunate that I was not attacked.
Occasionally I ask people if they have problems with monkeys and most of them have stories to tell, we have a laugh but we all acknowledge that this issue is no laughing matter. We all know that some farmers have problems with monkeys. All the tourists who visit Nevis like to see the monkeys as in their home countries they can only observe monkeys in a zoo, but they are not aware of the havoc monkeys can cause: eating crops, eating flowers, attacking and killing dogs, entering into people’s houses etc. Someone told me recently that part of the problem is that the monkeys do not have any animal predators which would keep their numbers in check. As a result the monkeys have developed a sort of self-confidence and skills in coping with dogs. Other countries such as the U.K. and Australia have had to deal with animals that have got out of control and the time has come for us to have a cull executed as humanely as possible. The government is always encouraging people to farm in their yards, but that is out of the question for me. If we ever get the monkey population under control, maybe one day I will be able to grow some fruit and vegetables.