Biomedical research - Vervet Monkeys and their Conservation

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Biomedical research

Vervets as animal models

Verevt monkeys have supplied the biomedical industry for many many years. They have been used as subjects for medical research and vaccine production. In Africa, vervets have been trapped for export from Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya. Hundreds of thousands have been trapped over the decades.

There is an introduced population of green monkeys in the Caribbean Islands of Barbados, St. Kitts, and Nevis. They were introduced to the islands soon after teh islands were settled in the early 1600s. Settlers converted much of the forest of the islands to sugarcane plantations. The success of vervets lies in their ability to thrive in marginal habitats and to exploit human activities. There was also a lack of natural predators on the islands. On Barbados the monkeys' crop-raiding became such a problem by 1682 that a 5 shilling bounty was paid for every monkey killed.

The bounty proved ineffective and eventually a live trapping system was set in place by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute in 1979. This system is still in place and monkeys, adult females and juveiles most frequently, are trapped to supply the U. S. biomedical industry.

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