An invasive alien species simply defined is any plant or animal (macro or microscopic) which is not native to an area and which was accidentally or intentionally introduced and poses a threat to local or native biodiversity.
Sadly humans are primarily responsible for the introduction of invasive alien species (IAS). Whether it is through trade, travel or being uninformed, our actions continue to propagate this invasion.
Why are Invasive Alien Species formidable foes?
- They colonize new areas rapidly and survive in wide ranges of environmental conditions.
- They possess high survival rates.
- They reproduce often and grow rapidly and display aggressive behavior.
- They may introduce animal and human diseases.
- They compete with native species and threaten their survival.
- They threaten economic sectors and livelihoods
There are no monkeys in St Lucia’s forest but there have been sightings reported to the Forestry Department in some parts of the north of the Island especially Monchy and Marisule. The monkeys sighted are believed to be the spider monkey. The forestry Department being the soul agency responsible for all fauna and Flora on the Island is currently investigating and carrying out a survey as to where they are and how we can manage this situation.
Spider monkeys are large in size and adult monkeys may grow to almost two feet tall excluding the tail. They have a powerful tail which they use as an extra limb. Spider monkeys like to hang upside down with all four limbs and the tail holding onto branches which makes them look like a monkey and thus their name. They also have the ability to swing from branch to branch at high speeds. Their fur colors vary from black, brown, golden, red or tan.
Spider monkeys spend most of their time high up in the canopy of trees where they find fruits and seeds to eat. They also eat plants and are unusual in that they have only four fingers and no thumb.
Do you know that these monkeys are Invasive Alien Species and threaten our biodiversity? Please become enlightened before you decide to get any pet; know what’s involved, go through the proper channel and if for one reason or other you no longer want to keep your pet don’t just release it. Call the Forestry Department (468-5644 /468-5647) and we will be able to assist you.
The consequence of releasing a foreign or potentially invasive alien animal or plant can be grave. Depending on the specie this can cause great economic loss to the country, our native biodiversity can be destroyed, sometimes even our health can be at risk. If you see any monkeys or any strange looking animal or plant please let us know, we look forward to your call.
Let’s be mindful and stop the spread of Invasive Alien Species!
Article by: Forestry Department
Photo: Google image