Clash looms as LCC Monkeys ‘raid’ Lekki residents’ homes
For months now, monkeys from the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) have become a menace for residents of Lekki community on Lagos Island.
The starving animals, whose population is believed to have grown beyond the carrying capacity of the reserve, now frequently ‘raid’ homes of residents of the adjoining communities to steal and eat human food, and destroy property in the process. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA writes
Residents of the Lekki community on Lagos Island are now grappling with how to stop the frequent invasion of their homes by starving monkeys from the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC), who are looking for food to eat.
It was learnt that the residents of the community have complained to the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture to come to their rescue to rid their homes of the marauding monkeys, but no serious effort has been made to tackle the menace. The residents are now celebrating the yuletide with the animals and may have no option other than to cohabit with them for a long time if nothing is done urgently to restrict the apes to their natural habitat.
The community is blaming the invasion of residents’ homes by the monkeys on an alleged failure by LCC to pay attention to the feeding of the animals or design a way of preventing them from encroaching on the humans’ space.
The menace is becoming scarier with reports that monkeys harbour some zoonotic diseases – can be transmitted from animal to a human being – including monkeypox and Herbesvirus B (Virus B). Herpesvirus B spreads from infected macaque monkeys to human beings.
Monkeypox virus is mostly transmitted to humans from wild animals such as rodents and primates (a group to which monkey belongs). Human-to-human transmission of the virus also occurs.
The Guardian learnt that Macaque monkeys commonly have this virus, which can be found in their saliva, faeces (poop), urine (pee) or brain or spinal cord tissue.
“The virus may also be found in cells coming from an infected monkey in a laboratory. The B virus survives for hours on surfaces, particularly when moist,” a medical doctor and surgeon, Mrs. Cynthia Okafor, said.
When The Guardian visited the affected areas, residents of Chevron Estate and Orchid Road in Lekki lamented that despite their regular complaints to the LCC, the centre had done nothing about the situation.
Majority of them who spoke to The Guardian said they saw monkeys daily, with the population almost overgrowing the reserve.
It was further learnt that non-harvesting of the monkeys in the reserve had led to increasing in the population of the animals and cases of conflicts. Some residents said the monkey regularly invade their homes and shops looking for food to eat and also snatching food from humans.
Experts said there is the need to determine the ideal population of monkeys that could be sustained within the LCC without the apes harming or disturbing residents of the neighbouring communities, or their invasion leading to human-monkey conflict as witnessed in Ghana.
The Guardian gathered that the destruction of properties by monkeys was the second most important reason for the human-monkey conflict in Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in Ghana. Therefore, there is a need to nip in the bud the brewing human-monkey conflict in the Lekki community.
“Being a reserve located in the peri-urban area that shares a border with human habitation, the monkeys source their food from the community,” said a zoologist, Onyia Sylvia.
According to Sylva, the situation in Lekki is similar to the findings of Rajpurohit, who stated that monkeys have become commensals and competitors of human beings in and around villages, towns and cities.
“A commensal, by way of definition, is an organism that uses food supplied in the internal or the external environment of the host, without establishing a close association with the host, for instance, by feeding on its tissues,” she said.
She added that one of the disadvantages of having monkeys around the living community is raiding homes for food items and the destruction of zinc and rooftops. There are similar destructive actions by monkeys in Lagos. The residents said the monkeys, on most occasions, stole their goods from shops, food from houses and fruits from gardens. The animals also destroy properties, including antenna and window nets.
It was gathered that the monkeys sometimes snatch snacks from unwary visitors.
A fun seeker and a tourist in Lagos, Mr. Chukwuka Ejiofor, who visited the LCC with his other family members during one of the festivities, had to wrestle a monkey to get back a meat pie it (monkey) snatched from his son.
The monkey, seeing that the boy is a child, snatched the meat pie from him.
“This prompted me to apply force on the monkey. I took a stick to beat the monkey and it was at that point that it left my son and I chased it away,” the father said about how daring the monkeys have become.
In a video that went viral, reportedly shot at Orchid Road, a lady was lamenting the invasion of her family home by monkeys who destroyed window nets and rooftops.
“I placed a loaf of bread on my fridge, within a few minutes, monkeys broke in and took part in it. Monkeys from the LCC are invading our kitchens. We have been battling this menace for months now with no solution as the centre has refused to feed the monkeys and they now go into people’s houses in daylight hours to steal food. We’re tired and need help. It happened in Orchid Road, Lekki, Lagos,” she said.
Another affected resident, Josephine Erosele, said: “I am scared. These monkeys come to our homes to destroy things. Once they see food items in the house they force themselves into the house. They tear our protective nets on the windows to gain entrance and gulp anything food they see.
“I am scared because of diseases that one can contract from these monkeys. Monkeys shouldn’t be in contact with human food. Though there are people who like monkeys as pets I don’t want them near my kitchen,” she quipped.
Erosele said she had changed her house’s protective nets severally because of the invasion of the monkeys. “I am tired of closing my windows even when I am inside the house, denying the house refreshing air”.
According to Mr. Nelson Igwe, residents of Chevron Estate and environs may soon be relocating or selling off their property to move to a safer place if nothing is done urgently and permanently about the monkeys.
“The monkeys are fond of peeping into people’s kitchens through the window and when they see food items that catch their fancy, they tear the net and squeeze through the burglarproof to steal them.
“In fact, the rule now is for households to remove food items that may attract monkeys from their kitchen or anywhere they can see them, else they will vandalise the net to collect the food if they see them. It’s that bad,” he said.
The Guardian’s investigation revealed that while bread and snacks are the favourite food of the monkeys, they also like fruits like banana, plantain, paw-paw and apple.
“They have lived among men for a number of decades and they now like what we like. Regularly, I put my pot of soup in a lockup cupboard to play safe,” Igwe said.
Experts advised that for good neighbourliness, the management of the LCC could introduce a compensation scheme for community residents whose properties have been evidentially damaged by monkeys.
We Warned People Not To Feed The Monkeys With Human Food – LCC
WHEN The Guardian visited LCC to get its reaction, the centre said the person saddled with the responsibility to speak on the issue wasn’t on the seat. Instead, the reporter was given an email address and Whatsapp number to contact.
All efforts made to get the LCC’s reaction failed as the centre didn’t respond to Whatsapp and email messages put across to it.
However, a top management staff of the centre who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “We warned the people to stop feeding the monkeys with human food but they wouldn’t listen.
“Ordinarily, we have enough food here to feed the monkeys. This place is wild and they can find their food everywhere. We have fished here in the water and we have fruits all over here.”
According to the source, the monkeys are not meant to feed on human foods but the benevolence of tourists who come for sightseeing has caused this.
“The monkeys have tasted real human food and they now desire it. We don’t need to go looking for food here because they have enough food in the wild area to feed on; we have enough fruits here that can feed them comfortably. The problem is that they have tested human foods.
“This is a monkeys’ kingdom and there are monkeys everywhere. There are monkeys at Chevron Estate and there are monkeys at Maryland and Gbagada to be precise. So, one can’t really say for sure whether the monkeys that invade those estates are from LCC or Chevron or any other place,” the source said.
On the population of monkeys in communities, experts said that the animals within the reserve were under protection because LCC is a ‘strict nature reserve’ with zero tolerance to hunting. They said for lack of being hunted for food over the years, the population increased beyond the means of sustaining them.
An environmentalist and Chairman of Lagos State Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative, Desmond Olumuyiwa Majekodunmi, said it was likely that the location itself has gone beyond the capacity to maintain the number of the monkeys that are developed there.
“We should also use this as a pinch of understanding and realisation that these monkeys were on the axis long before the humans came to settle there. We, the humans, are actually the invaders here.
“Having said that, we are not going to stop ourselves from the urbanisation process, but this is a reminder that in the so-called development, we must do it in harmony with nature because nature is obliged to give back what we give to her.
“If we give her (nature) unnecessary stress like we have done in the areas of our urbanisation, especially in the Lekki axis, though it’s not alone, then we will also get undue stress from nature. This is a fundamental law of life.
“It reflected in physics, scriptures and it is observable in microcosm and cosmic, the law of actions and reactions. In the fundamental law of retributions, you reap what you sow. You can’t plant yam and reap cassava.”
On the solution to the menace, he said the people running the LCC were equal to the task and were busy working on the solution.
“I believe they will work towards a good solution that will be in harmony with nature.
“Again, it’s a small wake up call for us that we must learn how to do whatever we do in harmony with nature. I say small because there are far larger reactions waiting in the wings and are already beginning to express themselves in different parts of the world, even here in Nigeria on our coast which is being massively eroded as a result of our actions against nature.
“In the north, the massive onslaught on the desert and nature is reacting to what we have done. So, let’s not fight nature, we can’t win the fight.”
All calls put across to the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, were neither picked nor returned at the time of filing this report.
A text message sent to her was not responded to either.
Controlling Animal Overpopulation With Contraceptives
ANIMAL overpopulation is associated with an increase in the human population. The human-caused wildlife population explosions can, in turn, have substantial negative effects on humans and their environment.
There are solutions to the problem of animal overpopulation that must take into account the people’s affection for wildlife, their opposition to the killing of animals, and their frequent lack of knowledge about the negative effects of overabundant species.
As practised in China, enforced infertility can be an effective, though controversial, strategy for controlling human populations. Many people also view enforced infertility as an acceptable strategy for controlling wildlife.
According to Philips Adams, an environmentalist, the LCC is overpopulated and controlling the population of any species involves issues that are ecological, political, moral, and ethical. The population of the monkeys has surpassed the carrying capacity of the reserve.
“From an ecological perspective, it is clear how to control a wildlife population – reducing the available food and habitat to lower the carrying capacity, compensate for the missing predators by killing individuals in the population, or slowing down the population’s ability to reproduce.
“On a local scale, it can be helpful to discourage people from feeding wildlife. On a larger scale, however, reducing food and habitat is often the least viable option because it will typically require restricting the access of large herbivores to millions of hectares of land,” he said.
In a controversial approach in 2009, the Australian government ordered the army to shoot 6, 000 kangaroos as a way of controlling the population.
The action was opposed by animal rights activists and by many Australians who consider kangaroo a national symbol that should be protected.
The activists obtained a court injunction to stop the culling of the species, but after a delay, the kangaroo cull proceeded.
Throughout the world, even when all parties agree that the overabundance of a species poses major problems for humans and for the environment, culling a herd through shooting is an increasingly unpopular strategy.
The Guardian learnt that a strategy that has more public support is birth control. This approach is common in cities where many feral cats are trapped, neutered, and returned to the wild.
Researchers are also investigating ways to give animals contraceptive drugs to reduce their populations over time.
The drugs being developed differ in their modes of action, ranging from chemicals that prevent animals from making critical reproductive hormones to chemicals that prevent sperm from fertilising an egg.
Contraceptive strategies are currently being tested on a variety of species, including deer, kangaroos, elephants, and monk parakeets.
Drugs can be administered to some animals via dart guns. For others, such as monk parakeets, researchers are working on ways to administer medications in food.
Some contraceptive drugs last for a single breeding season and require a new dose each season, which can be so challenging.
In South Africa, a wildlife biologist shoots a dart containing contraceptives at a female elephant. The goal is to reduce the overabundant elephant population and reduce the destructive effects of these elephants on the habitat.
IT was established in 1990 to serve as a biodiversity conservation icon and environment education centre. It is located along the Lekki-Epe Expressway in the Lekki Peninsula, opposite Chevron.
The Chevron Corporation built the facility for the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), as a reserved sanctuary for the rich flora and fauna of the Lekki Peninsula.
The company has, since, provided annual funding for the management of the centre.