Coffee and Coco

Recent rescues have brought two amazing little Vervets into our care. They are the fallout of tragedy as both were orphaned when some terrible thing separated them from their mothers. But such dramatically opposite consequences awaited them before coming into our care!

Coffee, as one of the youngsters has been named, was found and rescued by Rob after he saw the little monkey being dragged along the road in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) at the end of a piece of rope. He could see that Coffee was in a bad way and managed to negotiate to buy him. He learnt that Coffee’s mother had been killed and eaten by her captor. When we received Coffee into our care he was so thin, weak and dehydrated that we were not sure that he would survive. But once again the awesome skills of our vet, Dr Kerry Easson, and the unrivalled love and care of fellow Monkey Helpline coordinator, Carol, have paid dividends and Coffee is now a healthy, bouncy and extremely mischievous little monkey who will start his journey towards full rehabilitation that will eventually see him released into the wild with his new troop to live as all Vervets should!

For now Coffee has adopted Carol as his mom and spends almost 24 hours a day with her, just as he would with his real mom if she were still alive.

Coco, as the other youngster has been named, came to us after being seen in a tree next to a restaurant and literally jumped onto the shoulder of the man who was coaxing him down. Monkey Helpline received a call from this person asking for advice on how to look after a young monkey and also how to obtain a permit from the conservation authorities tokeep him as a pet. After establishing exactly where the monkey was being kept, Carol convinced the man that he would not be given a permit to keep the monkey as a pet as this was against the law in KZN, and also that keeping monkeys as pets was both cruel and impractical. She also explained how so-called “pet” monkeys become very frustrated at not being able to live as nature intended and usually end up biting humans, something almost unheard of regarding wild, free-ranging Vervets.

And so we collected Coco and brought him home. It was immediately obvious that whatever dramatic events had separated Coco from his mother and troop, he had been found and cared for by extremely loving humans. He is the most tame and gentle little monkey imaginable. He was spotlessly clean and smelt divinely of incense. But he had also been chased and bitten by free-ranging monkeys after being separated from his human surrogate caretakers, as was obvious from the small but painful injuries to his tail and one wrist. Also, when he was introduced to Coffee and the other monkeys in our “high care”, he was terrified and hid himself down the front of Carol’s blouse, a sure sign that his recent experience of monkeys had been both frightening and painful. Fortunatey he has gotten over his fear of other monkeys.

How different were the first experiences with humans that Coffee and Coco must have had after losing their mothers!

Now, after almost two weeks in Carol’s care, Coffee and Coco are inseparable friends, constantly vying for their newly adopted human mother’s attention and creating havoc as their rough and tumble playing leaves knocked over and knocked off ornaments, books, CD’s and a zillion other household things scattered in their wake. No food on your plate is safe from their insatiable curiosity and so mealtimes for humans have become “quiet time” in their holding cage for these two urchins. Eating human food off human plates, as Coco is doing to Carol’s son, Jordan, in the pic above, is a total “no-no”!!

Cute and endearing as they are, we cannot look at Coffee and Coco and not see the tragedy that has befallen them. Every day as we watch the Vervet youngsters in our wild troop, being nurtured by their mothers, playing in the trees and shrubs, exploring new things, and just being happy little wild monkeys, we realize what Coffee and Coco are missing out on. In the meantime, until they are ready to move on to the next phase of their rehabilitation, Carol provides the love and care they desperately need.

Refinery rescues and more

The three days that have passed since the last posting have not been without drama. Two rescues at the massive petroleum refinery, SAPREF, south of Durban, left us scratching our heads trying to figure out what it is that would lead Vervets to move from the relatively safe and pristine coastal dune forest adjacent to the refinery into the apparantly monkey unfriendly refinery with its noise, oily pollution, noxious fumes, razor wire, etc. We have already rescued an Egyptian goose, two Blue Duiker, and seven monkeys from the refinery. The goose, a duiker and a juvenile monkey had fallen into oil traps and been totally covered in the thick black gunge. All three were successfully cleaned and then released some time later. The pic on the left shows the juvenile Vervet before he was cleaned of every drop of oil.

This past week saw us carry out another two monkey rescues at SAPREF. The first, a young adult female, had been caught in perimeter razor wire and after what must have been a terrible struggle, ripped herslf free. Her hands, feet arms and body were so badly cut that she must have endured indescribable suffering before we caught her. Sadly her body could not combat the massive infection that had already set in and even with the dedicated and expert treatment of veterinarian Dr Kerry Easson she died during the first night in our “high care”. The second rescue had all the ingredients of a comedy-drama. A young, adult male Vervet, who had been severely injured by two other males the previous day, took refuge on top of a “tower”in the refinery. Whilst trying to assess the best way of capturing him we were unceremoniously evicted from the area because we had not been given “special clearance” to enter this particularly high risk area of the refinery. Forty-five minutes later, Carol and I, decked out in overalls, safety shoes, hard hat, special gloves, ear plugs and safety goggles were back on site to carry out the rescue, which we did successfully, but not before I was almost blinded and hosed off the tower by very helpful SAPREF employees using a water cannon to keep the monkey from running off the tower and escaping along the myriad pipes that seem to link every structure at the refinery. Thanks to Dr Easson (below left) this young male, now well stitched together and minus one testicle, will live to fight another day.

But there is light on the SAPREF horizon. We have met with their environmental officer who is arranging a meeting for the Monkey Helpline to assist and advise on how to make SAPREF less accessible to monkeys and also to find ways of keeping the monkeys within the adjacent natural areas as much as possible.

Sadly our “dead file” continues to grow. By end of day on June 16 we had added another 32 – yes, thirty-two – dead monkeys since June 1. That is two dead monkeys every day! And since June 17 we have added at least one dead monkey every day with yesterday, Sunday 21, having been a particularly grim day with three dead – one euthanased due to severe injuries sustained from being run over by a motor vehicle, one euthanased after being paralysed by a lead pellet from an airgun, and one euthanased after tetanus (lock-jaw) set in.

The next posting will include a piece about Coffee and Coco, two juvenile male Vervets who Carol is currently playing foster mother to.

Thursday, June 18, 2009-06-18

Help us to help the Vervets and other primates

The purpose of this blog is to highlight the plight of Vervet monkeys and other primates in KwaZulu-Natal and throughout South Africa and the rest of the world.

To do this we tell you about the work we do, how we do it and what we strive to achieve. To understand the enormity of the battle we face you have only to look at the number of Vervet rescues we do every day, and when you consider that it is only Carol and I and a small team of dedicated rescue supporters who are actively involved, you can imagine how many more Vervets need our help every day yet we don’t even know about them.

Even with our small team we could achieve so much more – rescue many more animals, and educate countless more people if all the people who care about primates and know about the work we do would do something to actively help and support us.

So how can you help?

More than anything else the monkeys need friends, people who respect them and care for them and who are prepared to take a hand in helping them survive in this increasingly monkey-unfriendly world.

There are many ways you can help – becoming a rescuer or rescue assistant, helping educate people about monkeys by handing out information leaflets or doing or arranging talks about monkeys to schools and other groups, helping out at our information tables such as the one at Essenwood Market every Saturday, becoming a troop monitor, helping with building monkey enclosures, or working at our high care clinic. All this and much more –

Such as becoming a Monkey Helpline VIP (Vervet Interested Person) supporter and recruiting more VIP supporters, becoming a Sponsor, Donor or doing fundraising.

Make a donation.

Without sufficient funds we can’t operate. The fuel for our vehicle, the cell phone communication, veterinary costs, food for the monkeys in our high care and the many other costs associated with the successful running of this project are entirely dependent on public donations, supporter membership fees and sponsorships!

For more about “how you can help”, contact the Monkey Helpline:

Steve on 082 659 4711 or Carol on 082 411 5444 or email steve@animalrightsafrica.org .

Banking Details for deposits into the Monkey Helpline account:

– Account name: Monkey Helpline
– Bank : Standard Bank
– Branch : Melville
– Account number: 081385439
– Branch code : 006105
– Type of account: Cheque
– Swift code: SBZAZAJJ

– Reference: Your organization, cell/mobile phone number or email

January to June 2009

Its been a while since this blog was updated, but new information will be posted every day if possible and at the very least every week from here on.

It has been a hectic year so far for the Monkey Helpline with rescue callouts every day – and we still average three rescues every two days, with six rescues on each of the past two Saturdays.

Currently we have 27 monkeys in our “high care!

This year to date we have also done in excess of forty educational talks about Vervet monkeys to schools and other community groups, manned our outreach table at the Essenwood Craft Market every Saturday and promoted the work of Monkey Helpline and Animal Rights Africa in many other public forums. We continue to distribute thousands of information leaflets.

Looking at the statistics of Vervet monkeys dealt with by the Monkey Helpline so far this year, it is shocking to know how many of these monkeys actually died.

In the period 1 January 2009 to 17 May 2009, 137 days, we dealt with 143 dead monkeys – just more than one dead monkey every day! These monkeys were euthanased, died en route to the vet, died during or after veterinary treatment, or in some cases were already dead on our arrival.

67 deaths were the result of motor vehicle accidents.

29 deaths were the result of pellet gun injuries

22 deaths were the result of injuries caused by dogs

12 deaths were the result of injuries caused by other monkeys

13 deaths were due to poisoning, razor-wire, electrocution, raptors, Tetanus or snares. One was burnt with hot oil.

These figures do not reflect those monkeys dealt with by any other primate handling groups in KZN.

X-rays show that over eighty percent of the monkeys rescued or retrieved by the Monkey Helpline have air gun pellets lodged in their bodies, rarely only one pellet, mostly between two and eight pellets, some with ten to fifteen pellets.

If one considers that the Monkey Helpline is only dealing with the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to rescuing or retrieving sick, injured, orphaned or otherwise in-need-of-help Vervets in KZN, the rate at which the Vervet population in KZN, particularly in and around towns and cities, is being decimated should set alarm bells ringing. It certainly makes a mockery of those claims that there is a population explosion of Vervets and that they are breeding out of control. Now more than ever they need our protection and care, especially when you consider that our “dead file” has 29 new entries just for the first 15 days of June!

(PS. The figure of 143 dead monkeys in the first 137 days of 2009 was subsequently adjusted to 154 after some misfiled admission records were re-filed)

September 14 and 15

Sept 14 is another day of diversity which includes setting our trap in Belamont Gardens, Umhloti, for a young monkey (about the age of the monkey Carol is holding in this pic) with an exposed skull. We need to catch him or else the exposed bone will dry out and allow germs direct access to the brain – which will be fatal! Garth and Mandy who live in Belamont Gardens are very famiiar with this injured monkey and his troop. They will attempt the trapping.

Most of the day is taken up with non-monkey related rescues for the Animal Rights Africa project, Animal Rescues Unimited (ARU), also coordinated by Steve and Carol.

Sept 15 starts with a 6.30 rescue callout to Escombe in Queensburgh. An early morning walker has literally had a small monkey drop out of a tree onto the road in front of him after the thin branch it was clinging to, broke. He calls a friend, Santi, who happens to have our ARU project number after a cat rescue we did for her about two years ago. Santi describes the monkey’s condition to me, which doesn’t sound at all good, and I ask her to go and fetch it right away and keep it wrapped warmly till I get there. From her description of the monkey, I imagine it to be one of last season’s youngsters, about ten months old.

What an unexpected surprise when I arrive at the scene. Santi has placed the wrapped monkey in a spare room so that it cannot escape if it suddenly finds a burst of energy. But this monkey is going nowhere! He is a one-day old newborn, virtually frozen stiff and instinctively still clinging tightly to the piece of dried branch that he must have clung to all night after being separated from his mother the previous day. His sparse hair was no protection against the cold and how he was still alive after the cold night is anyone’s guess.

The best I can do for him is stick him under my t-shirt and hope my body warmth will help him. He is in desperate need of warming up quickly so I also turn up the cars heater to maximum and have to drive home feeling like I am in a sauna. A quick call to Carol has her waiting at the gate with the necessary warm-up goodies – covered hot water bottle and soft baby blanket. She does the necessary mothering whilst I call Jan and James Hampton, our surrogate parents of choice when it comes to caring for the newborn babies we rescue every year, and break the news to them that their first baby for the 2008/9 season is about to be delivered to them. They have successfully cared for scores of baby monkeys over many years and fortunately we will be seeing them in a few hours at a primate rehabilitation workshop we will all be attending.

By the time we hand over the baby to Jan, he has a full tummy and is already much stronger, and by the end of the workshop, during which he has been constantly mothered and bottle-fed by Jan, he has a healthy look about him. Baby Jordan, as Jan has named him after Carol’s son, is now in very good hands and we feel confident that he will survive.

During the day we receive a call from Dianne in Northdene, Queensburgh who tells us that one of the pregnant females in “her” troop has got a snare tightly encircling her chest just below her breasts. This is a dire predicament for this monkey to be in, especially as she will soon be nursing a baby. We have to trap her as soon as possible in order to remove the snare, hopefully before she gives birth! But by the time Dianne has gone back to see if she is still there, the troop has moved on. Dianne will phone the moment she sees the snared monkey again, hopefully very soon!

September 13

Like every Saturday, this one starts with our outreach/education table at the Essenwood Market in Durban. And like every other Saturday at the Market, a rescue callout interrupts our enthusiastic engagement with people wanting to know more about the work we do with monkeys, or want advice on how to keep monkeys out of their home and garden, or people who just want to tell us how much they despise monkeys – fortunately not many of this last lot.

This time the call is from St. Winifreds in Amanzimtoti south of Durban. Carol stays at the market and I attend to the callout. The monkey is an adult male with a badly injured left arm. He has been sprawled on a branch all morning with the injured arm just hanging down. When he gets uncomfortable and changes position, the arm is not used at all. From what I can see he has a bad cut under the left upper arm into the shoulder joint. There is a lot of blood but the wound has stopped bleeding. He shows no interest in the food offered to entice him within catching range and the only way we will possibly catch him is by darting him with a sedative. Friend Daniel from the Pietermaritzburg SPCA arrives and attempts a darting. But the wind is howling and the shot is not a good one. The dart does however hit the monkey and galvanizes him into action. He jumps from the tree onto a roof and from there to the ground and races away. Daniel and I, nets in hand, race after him in the hope that enough of the sedative has been released into his muscle to at least slow him down after a couple of minutes. No such luck! A hundred meters further and he has disappeared. We search in vain and eventually admit that we have lost him. We can only hope that he has made it into the nearby bush and that if the drug does take affect he will sleep it off in the safety of the impenetrable vegetation.

We ask a few locals who are sympathetic to the monkeys to keep a look out for him and notify us if they see him.

Back to the Market just in time to help Carol with packing up.

As we leave the Market we receive another rescue callout. This time it is a young monkey at a home in Shallcross, barely able to drag himself along. Carol tells the caller to secure the monkey by placing a laundry basket over him and holding it down until we arrive. Far too often callers have assured us that the animal cannot move and is virtually dead, only for us to arrive at the scene to find the animal disappeared, because they did not keep watch over it as requested by us.

But this little chap really wasn’t going anywhere. The victim of a high voltage powerline electrocution, both his legs and one hand are burnt beyond repair. His injuries are horrific, yet so strong is the will to survive that he has crawled from who knows where as he attempts to follow his troop. How he managed to avoid dogs and cars we’ll never know. With heavy hearts we rush him to the Sherwood Emergency Veterinary Clinic where compassionate staff gently ease his suffering with a strong sedative and then euthanase him.

A sad end to a long day!

September 12

Mid-morning and there is a call from Ann on the Bluff to tell us that after hearing the sound of an airgun, she rushed downstairs from her second floor flat to find a beautiful adult male Vervet lying dead just inside the boundary wall. We asked her to put the monkey in a bag until we can get there to assess the situation. Arriving at the scene we collect the body of the monkey from the gardener and on inspection we see that it has a very clearly identifiable pellet hole in the right side of the head, just in front of the ear, and that this is definitely the cause of death. Ann tells us the neighbour, an old man in his eighties, regularly hides amongst his banana trees and shoots at the monkeys and birds who visit his extensive, back-yard fruit and vegetable garden.

So off we went to visit the old man. After depositing the monkey on the dining room table I asked “Oom Johan”, as a middle-aged woman also living there called him, if he had shot any monkeys in the past hour or so. He was horrified that I should suspect him of having shot the monkey. He did however admit that he had, in the past hour or so, fired a pellet in the direction of the troop of monkeys that had been in his garden eating his bananas. But, he said, he had aimed at the wall behind the monkeys and that having served his country for five years during the Second World War there was no way that he would have shot a monkey if he had aimed at the wall! The connection here eludes me. Is there one?

Half an hour later we were no closer to convincing Oom Johan that his aim was not nearly as true as he liked to believe, and that the monkey lying dead on his dining room table had actually been killed by him.

We took the dead monkey to one of our vets for it to be X-rayed and to obtain a vet report confirming the cause of death. We intend pursuing a criminal prosecution of Oom Johan in terms of the relevant section of the Firearms Control Act which makes it a criminal offence to fire an air/pellet gun in a residential area, as well as in terms of the Animal Protection Act. There definitely was cruelty involved, as the monkey had lived long enough after being shot in the head to run approximately fifteen to twenty meters and clamber over a 1.8 meter high wall before dying.

It is a source of constant frustration to us that the callous individuals who shoot monkeys and also harm and kill them in other ways, do so with virtual impunity because the people who see them do so and report such incidents to us, are reluctant to go to a police station to make a statement under oath, partly out of fear and partly because the police are indifferent to their complaint and even refuse to take a statement from them. Without such a statement our hands are tied and monkeys will continue to suffer and die like this.

So, if you are aware of anyone shooting monkeys with a pellet gun, go to your local police station and insist that they take your statement under oath. Then contact the Monkey Helpline and we will advise you on further steps that must be taken to help us stop this ruthless maiming and killing of monkeys.

September 11

September 11 – A quiet day insofar rescues went – none! But the day was still busy as we cleaned cages and then checked and fed the monkeys in the High Care Facility, fielded the usual calls about the “monkey menace”, contacted some of our monkey troop monitors to discuss their observations, AND attended to the needs of three children and the host of resident and “just passing through” animals who constitute an integral part of the lives of all animal rescuers and rehabilitators. And no day is complete without a visit from our resident Vervet troop (see attached pic) which, with approximately 35 members, forms an important resource in our ongoing efforts to understand the manner in which Vervet troops are structured and how they function as a team yet display such individualistic character traits. We are reminded daily, as we observe them, that there is still a mass of knowledge to be acquired before anyone can claim to really “know” these amazingly complex and intelligent little primates.

September 10



This day is a mixed bag for the Monkey Helpline rescue team. At 7.00 am, Mark from the heavy transport company at Avoca called to tell us that the young, seriously injured monkey who had evaded capture the previous day by hiding in a reed-bed, was lying on a roof girder in the company workshop. So once again kids are rushed through the final morning routine pre dropping off at school and Carol and I fret and curse as we negotiate the morning rush hour traffic whilst trying to get to the monkey before it disappears again. This monkey is in desperate need of being caught!

Arriving at the site we are waved through the security checkpoint by the security officer with hurried finger pointings in the direction of the workshop where “Mark is waiting for you with the monkey!” At the workshop we see the pathetically thin monkey standing under one of the lights, obviously enjoying the heat it generates. He was immediately aware that something was afoot and hobbled painfully along the eight meter high girder and climbed through a small opening into the adjacent workshop. As I clambered up steel structures to cut off his escape route, he turned around and climbed back into the first workshop. As we watched, he stopped, head in one workshop, tail still in the other. Unbeknownst to me Carol had seen him coming back into the first workshop and had climbed up the steel supports to block his route. Knowing that the sound of the ladder being pushed up against the workshop wall would frighten him into movement, I used the ladder-like workshop support structures to climb quietly up to him. His tail, still visible, was very quickly in my grip and he was crying pathetically in frightened panic. I dropped him gently into the net that Carol had brought as soon as she realized I had caught the monkey. We boxed him and took him straight to our vet, Dr Kerry Easson, at Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Durban North.

Once sedated ( see pic above), Kerry checked him to assess his injuries and general condition. The right pelvis was totally crushed, and his right leg was non functional. He was severely dehydrated after days of struggling to find food and water and fighting off the massive infection in his pelvis and abdomen. We could do nothing to heal him so he was gently euthanased.

Then on to the 9.00 am meeting with the Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate Two (MECCE2)management association members in connection with our concerns about monkeys being shot with pellet guns on the estate. (Recall our related press release to the North Glen News contained in an earlier blog posting.)

We are happy to say that the meeting went well and we were subsequently able to provide the North Glen News with the following:

“We were positively received and they made it very clear that they would not tolerate any cruelty to animals on the estate. This includes shooting of monkeys. They pointed out that the use of pellet guns on the estate is banned and are totally committed to finding out who the shooters are and will deal with them very harshly, including laying charges with the SAPS and taking action in terms of MECCE rules of residence. Notices reaffirming the MECCEMA regulation banning the use of pellet guns on the estate will be sent out to all MECCE residents.

As for our concern that they were acting against the “feeders” and not the “shooters”, they pointed out that it was far easier to identify the former than the latter.

They agreed, in fact requested, to work closely with the Monkey Helpline in addressing any human/monkey related problems on the estate, and have asked Lynette Webber, who works closely with Monkey Helpline, to join their “environmental committee”. She has agreed to do so. The issue of feeding stations for monkeys on the estate, as a means of lessening the incidence of residents having monkeys enter their homes in search of food, will be revisited.

Furthermore, they have agreed to our suggestion that we hold a Monkey Helpline Open Day Education Exhibit at MECCE on Sunday, October 12.

We feel confident that the new MECCE Estate Two manager and the new MECCE board of directors, together with the Monkey Helpline, will play an important and positive role in managing the monkey issue on MECCE. We have undertaken to personally visit and advise any resident of MECCE who is having problems with the monkeys.”

And just to end the day on a positive note, we moved two monkeys from our high care facility at home to two large exercise enclosures at the Durban-based wildlife rehabilitation centre, CROW. One is an adult female from Pietermaritzburg who had been pregnant when she was struck by a motor car. She aborted her almost fully developed baby in our high care facility two days after being rescued. The other monkey is a beautiful, big adult male who was also struck by a motor car and luckily only sustained severe concussion and some deep lacerations. Both need to spend ten days to two weeks in the exercise enclosures to build up some muscle tone and fitness after spending weeks in small cages recuperating. The female will be released back to her troop, and the male will be released right where we rescued him so that he can continue the life he was leading when struck by the motor car.

Frustration!!!


Tuesday, September 9 starts with phone calls to various people in Bloemfontein trying to find anyone who has any information about alleged plans to move little Adam, a 6 month-old Chacma baboon from the medical research laboratories at Free State University to a rehabilitation centre.

For those who don’t know, Adam was handed to the Free State conservation authorities a few months ago by some good folk who had found him abandoned and, after caring for him for a while, passed him on in the belief that he would be placed in a rehabilitation programme. How wrong they were!

The Free State conservation boffins, in their infinite wisdom and compassion, saw Adam as a threat to the genetic purity of their baboons and decided that he should become a research tool. They claimed that there was no rehabilitation programme that could take Adam. What utter nonsense!

A public outcry by animal-caring people country-wide has so far yielded no positive outcome for Adam, but yesterday (September 8) I was asked to enquire as to where Adam was being sent, as there was a rumour that he was finally destined for a recognized rehabilitation centre – somewhere! I quickly established that none of the baboon rehabilitation centres anywhere in South Africa had been issued a permit for Adam, though all said they would gladly accept him. Then after a number of phone calls to the Free State conservation department, and being shunted from pillar to post, the official in the permit issuing office, on my second phone call to her, crossed her heart and swore to die when telling me that Adam was still at Free State University and that no permit had been issued to transfer him anywhere else.

So, young Adam’s fate still hangs in the balance, or should I say “imbalance”, as the conservation officials play god with his precious life. But he has not been abandoned by decent caring people and the fight to rescue him continues.

Closer to home Carol was diarizing a talk on Vervet monkeys that we would be doing to a group of learners at a prestigious Durban school on September 18. These talks, accompanied by an attention-grabbing slide presentation, form a vitally important part of our broad-based education effort about monkeys, and we try to schedule as many talks as we are able to do.

Then at 10.55 the inevitable daily rescue callout. Acquaintance Mark, who works for a heavy transport company in Avoca, north of Durban, called for assistance with a badly injured young monkey near the truck wash-bay. We asked him to offer the monkey food in an effort to keep it from moving off in the time it would take us to reach him.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the scene the monkey had moved through the 2.5 meter high razor wire security fence and was sitting just out of reach amongst the reeds that line a tributary of the Umgeni river. Wondering why companies waste so much money on this type of security fencing, I scaled the fence about ten meters away from the monkey and dropped down the other side, unharmed. The little monkey was so skittish that he crawled down into the layers of old and broken reeds before I could get anywhere near him and was just impossible to find. A half hour search yielded only nettle-stung legs and burning cuts from the sharp-edged reed leaves.

Not willing to give up on what we knew was a very badly injured and suffering animal, we placed food near the place where the monkey was first seen and asked Mark to call us when the monkey reappeared, which we knew – hoped – it would. We drove away with heavy hearts as we always do after not catching a monkey we have gone out to rescue. We fail so seldom that we haven’t got used to the horrible feeling. For the rest of the day, every time my phone rang we willed it to be Mark calling to tell us that the little monkey was back. Fate was not being kind to us – or to the desperately-in-need-of-being-rescued monkey. No phone call! We could only hope for better luck the next day…