We plan to work on organic farms in South India (tropical wet and dry climate, 10 deg. N). We have been prepping ourselves to face the challenges posed by this terrain. One of the challenges that has baffled us is the menace posed by the fast-growing number of the monkeys. I would like ask Permaculture folks if you have encountered this anywhere and if yes, what would be a Permaculture way of looking at this problem?
While I can confidently say I've never had monkey trouble in my garden before, the best place to point you I can think of is that of predators.
Do you know what naturally preys on the monkeys. Can dogs be an effective deterrent for them?
Willie Smits said they used a particularly dense thorny bush/tree to discourage the orangutans from interacting with the people, are the monkeys small enough to ignore whatever thorny plants you may put down?
If dogs and thorny bushes aren't enough you might help yourself by providing wide open spaces that make the monkeys feel exposed to birds of prey, or plant plants they prefer somewhere far enough away to keep them away from you.
These are only four of a nearly infinite number of possibilities. They were however the only ones that come to mind.
If you want to go the predatory approach, understand that whatever animal that will eat monkeys could easily maneuver to similar primates like small children. Monkeys are a tough problem I imagine and on top of that I doubt many people here have a flick of experience with this.
Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
Monkeys are extremely difficult to keep out of a food forest scenario. You need to consider them from the very first design stages or they'll get in.
First, since monkeys spend the vast majority of their time in trees you need to break canopy cover between your food forest/orchard and the native surrounding vegetation. If the mature tree crowns in your orchard will be within jumping distance of the mature tree crowns of the surrounding forest all the dogs and spiny stuff in the world won't matter.
Second, you need to surround the entire orchard/food forest with TWO grazing strips (width dependent upon mature tree canopies...probably 25-50 meters) separated by a band of dense, spiny vegetation (peach palm, prickly pear, natal plum, rattan, etc.). You can run cattle or other livestock in the grazing strip, but make sure do do it rotationally for the health of the strip. By laying things out this way a monkey in the forest would have to come down to the ground (which they hate to do), cross a grazing strip (which is open and makes them vulnerable), bust through a spiny wall of vegetation, cross another grazing strip and then enter the orchard. Here's a bird's eye view:
That said, even this isn't guaranteed to keep monkeys out. It's the best I've learned, though. Remember the whole thing is contingent upon breaking canopy cover with the surrounding forest. That means you need to have a realistic understanding of the mature size of both the trees in your orchard and the trees in the surrounding forest.
Principal - Terra Phoenix Design
Thanks so very much for your detailed reply. I will use all the information in your reply in the best possible way.
The current scenario is:
- forests in the vicinity have been destroyed
- a reforestation effort was initiated by the Government; but unfortunately, they have planted Eucalyptus of all the trees! So, the monkeys
have nowhere to go
- these monkeys are out in the open in the villages all the time, feeding anything they can find
- they are not scared of dogs
The situation is so dismal that it seems to be a lost cause to begin with. I am at a complete loss.
no experience at all but along with the above suggestions, would an electric fence be of any use, if it was the netting sort that would be tall enough they couldn't jump over and that they would get a shock if they tried to climb? You would probably have to run a steel wire through at least the top of it so that it wouldn't sag or fall from the weight if a monkey jumped onto it. You might try planting your thorny stuff or molasse grass or whatever on the inside of the fence so it might not seem worth while to the monkeys to deal with the shock. If you couldnt get tall netting then perhaps two rows one above the other?
You might need to put some sort of short thorny stuff on the outside of the fence to keep people from messing with it.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx short thorny stuff xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy electric fence yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX tall thorny stuff XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Close to the fence but not so much it touches.
Something else that occurs to me is that you might simultaneously do some guerilla gardening and happen to find some monkey friendly trees that really needed to be planted in the eucalyptus forest....or would they just get cut down?
I have an endless battle with vervet monkeys in Zimbabwe. Not only fruit, but vegetables, too - especially carrots. Last year they destroyed entire guava, pawpaw, mullberry, granadilla, banana and orange crops, alongside entire crops of brocolli, caulieflower, carrots, pumpkin, gem squash, butternut and some very hard to find (here) "heritage" tomatoes. There is only one solution and it is very expensive. You have to cage everything you grow in chicken wire. Shade cloth is hopeless. They just bounce on it until it breaks. If you resort to a shotgun, you'll get no criticism from me. They will also take poultry, given half a chance. Most of the food taken isn't eaten - they take one bite and throw it away. I now have a troop of baboons vnturing closer by the month and no doubt the chicken wire will prove too flimsy. Forget rubber snakes, forget flashing lights or loudnoise. They soon become habituated to anything that doesn't kill them. By the way, they don't take lemons or lettuce!
Echo... except Vervet monkeys have taken lettuce from me.
The only time they run from me is when I use a paint ball gun. First time they showed any respect. But I can't sit pumping paint balls at them all the time.
I have also come to the conclusion that I have to cage everything.
Someone did tell of catching one and painting it with luminous paint and then at night it frightens the troop who run from the painted monkey who of course tries to stay with it's group and it was told they disappeared forever. Maybe someone did that and they came to me 5 years ago!
wish I had the answer.. I have massive monkey problem .. even the trash has to be fully caged... can't leave a car door open while unloading grocery shopping.. now I don't go anywhere without my catty and a pocket loaded with small stones.. problem is they recognise that now in an instant.. and monkey brain is not to be mistaken with stupid.. they know when I don't have it - and we end up doing territorial displays with each other - it would be hysterically funny if it wasn't such a darn nuisance !! Tried the same thing with paint ball gun .. but per previous post - don't have time to sit watching for them .. anyhow they recognise that as well and then turns into a game of play hid & seek .. my next option - paintball gun but with pepperspray bullet ... I only need to get a branch close and the pepperspray will hopefully spread. And per chillies and "hot stuff" ... I've tried .. they're naughty not doff..
A friend recently sent me this article.... http://bhutanobserver.bt/5090-bo-news-about-farmers_discover_monkey_repellent_grass.aspx
I am going to post the article too cos so often I click on links and they no longer working. I have been trying to order some of this seed but unsuccessful to date. It would only be suitable around a field and not for gardens close to the house though.
Farmers discover monkey repellent grass
Molasses grass discovered to be an effective deterrent to monkeys
Maan: Tashi Jamtsho, a former tshokpa of Maan village in Pemagatshel, is all smiles these days. He has found a way to keep marauding monkeys at bay. For the last two seasons, he has reaped bountiful maize harvests. The monkeys and langurs which destroyed his crop in the past haven’t returned after he planted molasses grass (melinis minutiflora) on the fringes of his field. “It is the most effective deterrent to the marauding primates,” Tashi Jamtsho says. In the past, Maan, a village on the edge of a forest, had to fight tough battles against monkeys that destroyed their food crops each year. But the accidental discovery of the animal’s inability to negotiate their way out of the sticky molasses grass tussocks has come as a blessing to some of the farmers in the village. And for the last two harvests, animals like monkeys and langurs spared their maize crops. Last year, Tashi Jamtsho chased away a troop of monkeys from his field. To his surprise, some of the monkeys got struck in the molasses grass tufts and could not flee. He kicked a few and caught some. Thereafter, the animals never came back. Molasses grass is a sticky, tufted, stoloniferous, perennial grass which grows up to a height of 180 cm. It has a strong characteristic odour of molasses or cumin due to the secretion of a volatile oil through the leaf hairs. It grows in thick carpets because of its pioneering growth habit, which together with the secretion, makes animal’s movement in it difficult. The secretion is also known to be effective in preventing tick infestation on cattle. According to Tashi Jamtsho, others in his village have also caught monkeys that got struck in the grass. Thereafter, the primates never returned to the village. He said that earlier, monkeys returned to the fields as soon as the farmers turned their back to them. Tashi Jamtsho and a few other farmers from the village are the registered seed growers for the grass. They grow their grass to full maturity. “If the grass is not grown to its full height, it would not be an effective deterrent,” Tashi Jamtsho said. “In Shali village too, there are reports of less wild animal depredation of crops where fields are fringed with molasses grass,” said Sonam Dorji from Gamong village. He said he is planning to sow molasses grass around his field as a repellent against wild animals. He added that even wild boars could be trapped in the thick sticky grass. While people in Maan village breathe a sigh of relief, there are reports of increased incidences of crop depredation by monkeys in the adjacent villages. It is obvious that the animals are invading new territories. Ap Kunga, a farmer, said he also saw less destruction of crops in his field when it was surrounded by molasses grass. But after he removed the grass to convert the area into an orchard, the attack increased. He later left his field fallow when the attack intensified. Is the solution to the farmer’s woes finally in sight? For now, this grass, introduced in Bhutan through India, has provided some relief to the farmers in more ways than the one intended. But its effectiveness in the long run could only be ascertained after a study. The grass was reportedly introduced in the dzongkhag in the 1980s as part of the livestock department’s effort to promote livestock. This grass continues to be promoted by the government to this day. And it is from here that the seeds of some species of grasses, including that of molasses grass, are being collected for distribution to other dzongkhags. This grass is considered a pioneer grass species which can withstand long periods of dry weather and poor soil. It is also considered to be useful in preventing soil erosion caused by surface runoff because of its rapid growth. However, it cannot withstand overgrazing. By Gyembo Namgyal
I've read about this kind of thing at the checkout counter. That's where I met this tiny ad:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo