GSD Concern over Ape Bites
The GSD notes with concern a report in the Gibraltar Chronicle of another ape bite incident on Main Street. It is particularly alarmed by the fact that the incident appears to have been an unprovoked one and, even more worryingly, one in which a young child was involved.
Selwyn Figueras, Opposition Spokesman for the Environment explained: Im really very concerned now, particularly in light of the fact that the lady who was attacked was accompanied by her grandson in his pram. This is the stuff of nightmares, frankly, and I cant imagine how worried Mrs Vinales must have been for the safety of her grandson, not to mention the injury she herself has sustained.
I have been calling on Dr Cortes consistently for the last year now, to take decisive action to deal with this worsening situation. It seems that not a day goes by that we dont hear of another incident involving aggression by unruly macaques. All Ive had from Dr Cortes in Parliament for months is that they are working on it, that they are considering it, that their plan is close to completion. Whenever I ask him whether hes concerned about the increasing regularity of these interactions and the fear some people in Gibraltar have to endure every day of their lives, it strikes me that it falls on deaf ears.
Just last week, the Minister confirmed that the numbers of apes had already grown substantially this year and, we understand, the extent of the problem and distribution of the apes is actually far more significant than the Minister wants to let on. Theres a new environmental feedback unit which people can call but, frankly, when you see apes roaming around Main Street with impunity, menacingly as if the urban environment is their own, you wonder what effect a unit like that is actually having.
The GSD recalls that in Parliament in March this year, Mr Figueras asked the Minister with responsibility for the macaques whether the Government was content to stand by its policy not to cull, if that means the possibility of facing more [human] injuries in future? In reply, Dr Cortes said the Government is happy to stand by its policy of not culling, because we are not going to have a problem, once we have put in the proper management structures.
Selwyn Figueras explained further: Despite the fact that we are assured that measures are being taken, the inescapable truth is that we DO have a problem and, in my view, it is not being taken seriously enough. I only hope these incidents stop happening, at the very least in our urban environment, and that the Government may reconsider its position and re-include culling as a measure, strictly of last resort, in its management of this issue. Lives are at stake here, human lives. I hope the Minister isnt missing the point here…
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