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. Marauding monkeys wreak havoc on Zanzibar isle

At least 900 columbus monkeys (pictured) were killed in an extermination drive last week, but thousands more were still ravaging banana, cassava and sweet potato fields and threatening residents' homes.
by Staff Writers
Zanzibar, Tanzania (AFP) May 31, 2006
Thousands of rampaging monkeys are wreaking havoc on an island in Tanzania's Zanzibar archipelago where locals have appealed for help to exterminate the simians, officials said Wednesday.

Increasingly brazen colobus monkeys are destroying farmers' crops, stealing food from inside houses and menacing young children on the islet of Tumbatu just north of Zanzibar's main island of Unguja in the Indian Ocean, they said.

"Some farmers have been spending nights in their fields to protect crops from being eaten or destroyed by the monkeys," said Zanzibar North Regional Commissioner Pembe Juma.

"We have been providing tools to kill the monkeys, but still there are many continuing to destroy farm produce," he told AFP.

Zanzibar Agriculture Minister Burhan Saadat Hajji last week gave 300 bullets to help Tumbatu's 10,000 inhabitants get rid of the aggressive monkeys, but residents said the donation was woefully inadequate.

At least 900 monkeys were killed in an extermination drive last week, they said, stressing that thousands more were still ravaging their banana, cassava and sweet potato fields and threatening their homes.

"We have intensified hunting, but our problem is a lack of tools," Tumbatu farmer Khamis Hassan told AFP. "One bullet costs about one cent but can kill only one monkey and we can't afford to buy thousands of bullets."

"We are afraid of monkey attacks, especially on children, and sometimes they reach our homes and grab our cooked food," he said. "It's just getting worse and worse."

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