Feral Focus

A RISKY BUSINESS - Rhesus Monkey

Setting the scene

This scenario is set on a large research facility situated on the outskirts of a bustling country town. Approximately 150 Rhesus monkeys are housed in the facility and are part of a long-term research project.

Overnight, the research facility has been hit by a freak storm, severely damaging buildings, cage facilities and fencing. 90 adult Rhesus monkeys have escaped into the local environment which consists of grassland (grazing pastures), open forest (timber plantations) and rocky outcrops. The local rubbish dump is located on the outreaches of town. Every attempt is being made to recapture the monkeys but many are wary of people and this makes approaching them very difficult.

Using the pest risk assessment table, calculate the probability this animal will become an established pest.

What to do

The National Vertebrate Pests Committee which amongst other matters, advises the Commonwealth and state governments on the pest status of animals already in Australia has sought comment from your business, (Conservation Matters), on your views about the risk of Rhesus monkeys establishing as a pest in Australia.

  1. Research the biology of the Rhesus monkey to assess the potential for this animal to become an established pest.
  2. Use your findings to complete the pest risk assessment guide and create a score for each of the following sections:
    • Risk to public safety
    • Risk of establishing a wild population
    • Risk of becoming a pest
  3. Use the pest risk assessment table and calculate the probability of Rhesus monkeys becoming a pest in Australia if it escapes from a research facility.
  4. Review information about the characteristics of successful pests.
  5. Prepare your response in the form of a detailed report to the National Vertebrate Pests Committee.
    Include in your response:
    • the animal's threat status to Australia based on the completed risk assessment activity
    • the characteristics that would aid this animal in becoming a pest.
    • the economic consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • impact on primary industry
      • global industry
      • tourism industry
    • the cultural / social consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • safeguards, if any, that would be required to keep the public safe
      • the risk of the spread of disease
      • would public activity / outdoor recreation be affected?
    • the environmental consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • competition with native animals and birds
      • are there any critically endangered species that may be adversely affected?
      • is there a particular habitat that may be adversely affected?

Documents for download

Further reading

To gain a better understanding of the task at hand it is recommended that you read sections of the following:

Feral Fact

Exotic animals held in captivity have the potential to escape and become feral. In the late 1800s Palm Squirrels were deliberately released in the grounds of Perth Zoo. A wild population now occupies approximately 30 square kilometres around the zoo. There have even been reports of squirrels stealing food from students at a local High School.

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