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Do you know that living in your neighbourhood, in your road and possibly right next door to you are killers – killers who have no conscience, no compassion and no remorse for the terrible pain, suffering and death they cause to innocent victims of their mindless violence.

We refer here specifically to those who think nothing of taking shots at monkeys with airguns (also commonly known as “pellet guns”).  Almost every day we rescue monkeys suffering severely debilitating, frequently fatal, injuries from the lead pellets that have smashed through skin, muscle and bone, ripping holes through intestines and into eyes, body organs and brains.

Imagine the pain, the fear of a monkey that has had its thigh bone shattered by a pellet.  That monkey still has to follow the troop around as they forage for food.  If the monkey can’t keep up and lags behind death is inevitable.  But death only comes after a few days or even weeks – days and weeks of terrible, terrible suffering.

Imagine the anguish of a mother monkey blinded by a pellet in her brain, trying to follow her troop by sound and instinct alone, fearful for her baby she can no longer see.

Can you even begin to understand how a monkey feels as it tries to drag itself along, desperate to follow it’s troop, paralysed by a pellet through the spine, eventually reaching a barrier it cannot negotiate, by which time its mouth and throat are parched with thirst, its stomach is cramping from hunger, and the skin and flesh on its knees are scrapped through to the bone.  It is alone, terrified and helpless to protect itself against dogs or other violent people.  Those monkeys lucky enough to be found by someone who contacts the Monkey Helpline will be captured as gently as possible and then taken to a vet where their suffering will end when they are mercifully euthanised.

These are some of the tragic scenarios that confront the Monkey Helpline rescuers every day.  The number of monkeys being shot with airguns is mind-boggling.  Not requiring a license, airguns can be bought almost anywhere, by anyone, and there is no meaningful control over the use of these dangerous weapons, which is why over eighty percent of the hundreds of monkeys rescued by the Monkey Helpline every year have lead pellets lodged in various parts of their bodies.  Yes, that means that at least eight out of every ten monkeys you see have been shot with an airgun, some as many as fifteen times.  And the violent yet cowardly people responsible for this vicious cruelty do it close to where you, your children and your pets, live and play!

Fact is that the use of an airgun in residential areas, or anywhere else that holds the risk of injury or damage to person or property, is a crime punishable by the courts.  This is very clearly spelt out in the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 of 2000, Section 120, Paragraphs 3(b) and 7.  Amazingly, most South African Police Service (SAPS) officers have very little understanding of that part of the Act that limits the use of airguns and most attempts to lay an airgun use related charge at a police station are met with resistance by the police official based on obvious ignorance of the contents of the Firearms Control Act insofar as airguns are concerned.

Monkey Helpline cannot bring an end to airgun violence against monkeys and other animals, and potentially even your children, without the cooperation of the public.  We need to be notified of any person discharging, or reasonably suspected of discharging, an airgun in a residential area, and charges must be brought against that person by the witness to the incident.  Successful prosecution of airgun offenders is the only way we will be able to protect innocent animals against the indefensible cruelty that results from airgun violence.




Monkey Helpline contact details (24/7):
Steve – 082 659 4711 or
Carol – 082 411 5444 or

Kiron -

Firearms Control Act

Steve Smit, the Monkey Helpline coordinator has made an impassioned plea to the public to immediately report anyone they know or suspect of shooting at monkeys, or any other animal, with a pellet gun.

“Anyone discharging a pellet gun in a built up area or anywhere else where there is a risk of injury or damage to another person or property is committing an offence and can be prosecuted in terms of the Firearm Control Act, and in many cases also the Animal Protection Act,”

We rely heavily on the public to help us stop this cruelty and to bring these criminals to book. The cruel and cowardly behaviour of a person who would maliciously shoot two pellets into a ten week-old baby monkey is a danger to everyone who lives around him or her. We need to eliminate the danger these people pose to our safety including that of our children and our pets.”

Fact is that the use of an air gun in residential areas, or anywhere else that holds the risk of injury or damage to person or property is a crime punishable by the courts. This is very clearly spelt out in the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 of 2000, Section 120, Paragraphs 3(b) and 7. Read the whole act here.