Catalan Residents Protest as Monkey Havoc Continues
As residents of Catalan Bay this week handed to VOX a petition, signed by almost every family in the former fishing-village which is now a popular "summer hours" spot, calling for the Environmental Agency or GONHS to cope with the disruptive and destructive sub-troop of Barbary apes which wreak havoc there on an almost daily basis, another visitor to the top of the Rock was bitten by an ape and had to be rushed to the accident and emergency department at St Bernard's. The six year old had been bitten on the wrist and it was thought that if the tendons were damaged she could suffer partial loss of the use of her hand.
Last Thursday VOX, called by a villager to witness the mischief monkeys get up to, saw something of the daily upsets caused by the sub-troop - which has made its home on the sand slopes above the road . Minutes earlier they had been in the chapel's belfry, ringing the bells, a local shopkeeper told VOX.
"They take away food from houses. They have devastated the area outside of my house where I kept flower pots. We have called GONHS and the police complaining. They come, chase them away, but this is a problem we face daily. After all the monkeys live here and at night sleep in the sand slope above the village. We are desperate. We do not know who else to turn to" complained Aida Stagno, the Catalan resident who drew up the petition.
And Michael Yomme who frequently loses bread from his kitchen to the monkeys added his complaint: "They snatch whatever they can get hold of from inside the houses."
"The young ones, the one year olds, because of their smaller size, get into the houses through the fan light. We've had to cover it with wire mesh" a villager told Vox.
The villagers are so desperate that they've collected signatures - 240, in fact totalling the whole village - in a gesture of unity against what they have to endure daily - and they believe unnecessarily.
VOX was also informed that officers in the City Fire Brigade frequently dealt with tourist who suffered monkey bites and an investigation proved the information was correct. Fire officers not only administered first aid at the fire station, but convey the victims of bites to St Bernard's where a tetanus injection is given. Because the cable car station is across from the Fire Station, attendants send the injured to them. Cable car station attendants confirmed what the firemen had said.
"Yesterday afternoon in fact a little girl, who could not have been more than six years old, had been bitten by a monkey in the inner side of her wrist. It looked pretty serious".
"I am informed that the number of monkey-related injuries seen in the Accident & Emergency department at St. Bernard's Hospital is of the order of 160 - 180 per year," Dr Vijay Kumar, Gibraltar's Director of Public Health told VOX.