Around 120 members of the monkey colony in Gibraltar could be deported after fears they have lost their fear of humans and are running riot.
Although seen as a tourist attraction, friendly and inquisitive, the wild Barbary Macaques have been accused of acts of vandalism and attacks on locals and tourists.
In 2012, a grandmother was bitten in an attack while pushing a pram, her injury required hospital treatment; she was just one of around sixty people that needed treatment that year. In 2011 there were 104 reported monkey attacks.
The Gibraltar government has confirmed that talks have taken place with a third party to move 120 of the 200 population away from the area. After being caught, the monkeys are being held in a specially constructed ‘monkey prison’ and being cared for by vets. It is expected that the monkeys will be deported, possibly to their native North Africa.
Extra staff have been recruited to move the others out of town areas and back onto their reserve on the Upper Rock where special feeding areas and ponds are being built in an attempt to keep them there. Officials have stated that there will be no repeat of the 2008 cull that killed 25 monkeys,
Although the Barbary macaque is regarded as the national symbol of Gibraltar, mystery surrounds its initial arrival on the Rock. Their presence was first recorded by the first chronicler of Gibraltar in the early 17th century. Care for the Gibraltar’s monkey has been undertaken by the British Army, and later the Gibraltar Regiment, from 1915 to 1991.
Officer-in-Charge of the monkeys, Sgt Alfred Holmes, fed, nursed and named the monkeys for almost thirty years during the mid-1950s. He described the monkeys as Gibraltar’s ‘greatest treasure’ and ensured any sick animals were seen by the same doctors as the soldiers at the Royal Naval Hospital.