Bajan Green Monkeys

Enjoying stolen fruit.

Somewhere on the list of “Things to do in Barbados” for most tourist is to see monkeys*. The Wildlife Preserve across from Farley Hill is one of the best places to see monkeys in their natural environment*. I don’t have to go all the way to St. Peter to see monkeys, I can see them whenever I want in my backyard! Every day a troupe of at least 4 – 6 monkeys come to eat a mango breakfast and later a dinner in our mango tree.

If you read my blog from last week you probably already know I don’t like monkeys and may wonder why? It all started about this time last year when I discovered my yard littered with half eaten mangoes. Actually there were about 30 or so mangoes each with one bite on them. I believe the monkeys were taste testing the mangoes and throwing them down if they didn’t measure up.

I mean come on, they’re monkeys, couldn’t they just look at them or smell them to tell if they would be good or not? Even I could tell that most of them weren’t ready and I’m certainly no fruit expert. So that’s how it started, they were wasting my mangoes!

Peering in a neighbors window.

Last year we had bad experiences with monkeys! Not only did they eat the majority of the mangoes, they ate all but 2 or 3 bananas from the one bunch of bananas I managed to grow. They ate the papaya from the tree and I suspect they ate many of the cherries from our tree although it may have been the birds.

We were staying at Sandra’s family house last year as we were doing repairs on our house. The monkeys had free uninhibited access but this year we are here! I have found that if I slowly walk towards the monkeys they will leave then come back in a few minutes. After several rounds of this game, they move on. I don’t threaten them by waving or yelling because I understand they can be aggressive and vindictive!

On our fence in the backyard.

On one occasion  last year while we were staying at the Linton family house in Chancery Lane, Ashley shouted “Hey dad come and see this!” There was a monkey at the sliding door. Fortunately the door was closed and the monkey could not get in. There is no telling what would have happened if it had.

I’ve heard a first-hand account from a man in St. Phillips who said that he planted 4 beds of potatoes each one 70 feet long in his garden. He was hoping for a harvest that he could sell to help support his family. He said that monkeys went through and pulled up every single plant!

Gazing at our mangoes and eating our fruit.

Recently, I read a computer article that stated “The Green Monkey poses a severe threat to the agriculture of Barbados. They are infamous for picking at crops, especially fruit.” The article went on to say, “Many farmers consider the Green Monkey to be a pest as they quickly make their way through entire crops and destroying everything.”

I’ve heard stories about how monkeys can be mischievous and nasty! Not only do they leave their garbage, sometimes they poop all over the veranda or porch. They have been known to antagonize dogs and to break car license plates.

The look of innocence.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the monkeys. After all, I can’t really blame the monkeys for going after our sweet mangoes they are irresistible. There was a small rat in my backyard, apparently he had eluded the feral cats that Sandra feeds everyday (that’s another story). I chased behind the rat to get him to move on to my neighbors yard. I was doing good and the rat was scurrying along the fence until he bumped into a half eaten mango laying on the ground. He stopped smelled the mango, looked at me then back at the mango. The rat decided that he was going to stop and eat the mango then deal with the consequences.

By now you must understand why I dislike monkeys. To my knowledge there are three ways to deal with this conundrum. If you have a firearms license you can shoot them and the government will pay by the tail. The more humane way is to trap them and sell them to the Wildlife Reserve. Or, you can just learn to live with them.

For now, I have chosen number three, just learn to live with them. Maybe, I should try what Sandra’s cousin Selvin swears will work. He said, “Geh a small table an rest it awneet the mangah tree. Rest a few sweet sweet mangahs pon de table.”  Selvin swears that when the monkeys come and they see the mangoes on the table, they will opt to take the fruit from the table and not bother mangoes in the tree. Yea right!  That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard!

I recall a true story that happened on one of the Caribbean islands although I can’t remember which one. Farmers were growing increasingly frustrated with the monkeys destroying crops. After trying many things that did not work they decided to release a pack of big ferocious guard dogs to mind the garden plots and scare the monkeys. At the end of the day when the dogs returned from the fields, they came back with the monkeys on their backs riding them like jockeys!

Walking catlike along the fence.

I’ve got more monkey stories. There is a woman who threw away an old mirror and found that a monkey retrieved it from the trash and was gazing at his reflection. When the woman shooed the monkey he put the mirror under his arm and calmly walked away. I’ve also heard that monkeys steal clothes from the clothes line and put them in the tree. I bet you thought I was going to say that they put the clothes on and was wearing them. To tell the truth,  I wouldn’t be surprised if that has happened.

Posing in my backyard.

I’ll stop here and ask a question of you Bajans that read my blog. Do you have any interesting or funny monkey stories? If so, add them to the comments on my page, I look forward to reading them.

*The monkeys have been in Barbados for about 350 years brought here as pets from West Africa. However, they have adapted through the 75 or so generations and are uniquely Bajan.

* For the most part you see the monkeys in idyllic locations like the countryside but if you have a lot of fruit trees you may see them in the city.

(Visited 209 times, 1 visits today)

5 comments

  1. Hello Calvin, I look forward every Sunday morning to reading your blog after saying my prayers. This was another wonderful blog Calvin, I really enjoy reading them!

  2. When my brother Robert was in his twenties a friend of his gave him a monkey whom he called Willie. My brother and Willie were inseparable. They ate together under the lime tree and limed there too. Very often my brother would bathe Willie and check his fur for mites and it was quite humourous to see Willie perched on Robert a.k.a IBert’s shoulder checking his locks in the same manner. They got along fabulously. The only problem was he would roam the neighbourhood and scare my elderly neighbours. Finally Robert had to release him into the gully nearby as he escaped too often and caused problems in the neighborhood.

  3. I’m not a fan of monkeys, green or otherwise. Once at the zoo in the US, a monkey scratched my banana and my gran made me give it to him because of course it was nasty. I never forgave monkeys after that. I see how they come into the yard to steal and keep a lot of noise on the galvanise…lol
    May your backyard be monkey free in 2018!

  4. Calvin, great blog. Here is my monkey story. I remember as a 6-7 yr old (in Ellerton, St. George) throwing rocks at moneys who were eating plums in plum trees, which were nearby St. Luke’s boy school. As I recall (after more than 4 decades), one of the monkeys caught one of my rocks, looked at it and threw it right back at me. His aim was better than mine and I was hit. That was the last time I threw rocks at these monkeys.

Comments are closed.