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The Monkeys of St. Kitts & Nevis

Ownership of the Caribbean islands frequently flipped between countries during the early days of European settlement. When the former government left, it was not uncommon for the new country to be left with reminders of the earlier residents in the form of architecture, forts, and city names. But when the French were deported from the islands of St. Kitts, they left more than Gallic names at cities such as Basseterre. They also left behind their monkeys.

The French had imported a few vervet or green monkeys from Africa as pets during their century of rulership. When the British took over the island, they deported their enemies. However, they refused to allow the monkeys on the ships, and the primates were turned loose on the mountainous island. The tropical climate, miles of untamed rainforest, and plentiful vegetation agreed with the furry creatures, so much in fact, that today the monkey population is estimated to be two and a half times larger than the human population in this twin island federation.

The monkeys do not have a prehensile tail, so they’re often seen on the ground, scampering across a lawn in search of a fallen mango. Social like other monkeys, the green monkeys often travel in groups of 30 or 40. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times for spotting the most common resident of St. Kitts and Nevis.

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