If you live in the small village of Nachu in Kenya, watch out, because a group of approximately 300 marauding monkeys is out to steal your food, sexually harass your women and attack and kill your livestock! In a truly amazing incidence of interspecies communication, a group of vervet monkeys, Cercopithecus aethiops, is using sexual harassment to intimidate women and children, who are responsible for growing maize, potatoes, beans and other crops for their farming community, causing them to lose their main food supply so they now are dependent upon famine relief to survive.
The monkeys are more afraid of young men than women and children, with the bolder individuals throwing stones and chasing the women from their farms. In an attempt to scare the monkeys away, the women are now wearing their husband’s clothing, but the wily monkeys are not fooled.
“When we come to chase the monkeys away, we are dressed in trousers and hats, so that we look like men,” said Nachu resident Lucy Njeri. “But the monkeys can tell the difference and they don’t run away from us and point at our breasts. They just ignore us and continue to steal the crops.”
Further, the monkeys also make sexually explicit gestures at the women, according to the residents.
“The monkeys grab their breasts, and gesture at us while pointing at their private parts. We are afraid that they will sexually harass us,” said Njeri.
While it was not unusual for the monkeys to harass the women and be less afraid of them than they are of the men, according to the Kenyan Wildlife Service, the service had never before heard of monkeys making sexually explicit gestures as a form of communication to humans. Despite their new problems with the monkeys, it is a criminal offence to harm or kill any of them, so the besieged villagers must figure out a way to outwit the monkeys instead.
Unfortunately, the monkeys have even been killing the residents’ livestock and dogs, evading traps and avoiding poisoned food. The residents are now harvesting their crops early in an attempt to salvage what they can, however, the monkeys are now breaking in to the residents’ houses to steal their food. The residents even formed a “monkey squad” that consists of men who track the monkeys’ movements, but there simply are not enough people available to do the job adequately. Further, the monkeys have their own sentinals that keep watch on the residents, giving warning when they are approaching so the monkeys can escape.
I wonder why this is occurring all of a sudden? I’d guess this is the result of human encroachment into the monkeys’ former territory or perhaps a local food shortage, perhaps caused by the residents. Also, didn’t HIV originate in the sooty mangabey (also known as the green monkey), Chlorocebus aethiops, which is a close relative of the vervet monkey? It kind of makes you wonder what might happen to the people if enough of them are bitten or … otherwise abused … by these monkeys?