The Indigenous Gardener Article

Thanks to The Indigenous Gardener for the article

Page 25


Vervet Monkeys Vervet monkeys are amongst the most misunderstood and persecuted of animals in South Africa,and certainly in KwaZulu-Natal – www.monkeyhelpline.co.za.

During the last quarter of every year, Monkey Helpline is called to rescue a number of female monkeys, either heavily pregnant or carrying a new baby. Most are attacked and bitten by dogs or been struck by motor cars whilst crossing roads. Pregnant females have significantly reduced mobility, and the period between September and December is a particularly difficult
one for them. This is the time during which the majority of pregnant Vervets give birth!

Monkey Helpline spokesperson, Carol Booth, says that every year her organisation receives numerous rescue callouts concerning female Vervets who, being heavily pregnant or carrying their newborn baby, are struck down by cars or attacked by dogs. “Normally agile and alert these monkeys usually avoid dogs or cars, but during advanced stages of pregnancy, or encumbered by their new-borns, they find it more difficult to escape into the relative safety of trees, onto walls or even out of the garden altogether”, says Booth. “Just a few seconds slower than usual, they become the victims of a dog attack, usually with fatal consequences
for themselves and their unborn or newly born baby. The same happens to these female monkeys trying to cross roads.”

Booth appealed to dog owners to be particularly alert to the presence of monkeys visiting their garden at this time of the year, and to confine their dogs during the short time the monkeys are around. “Monkeys follow pre-determined foraging routes and most people
are aware of the possibility of monkeys passing through their property. Controlling your dogs in the presence of monkeys takes very little effort that ultimately translates into a huge benefit to the monkeys. Likewise, being alert to monkeys in the road or trying to cross the road and simply slowing down will give the pregnant  females or those with new-born babies a bit more time to cross the road safely or to make the decision to wait until the car has passed.”

According to Booth this is also the time of year when the juvenile Vervets born during the previous season, around ten months to a year earlier, are also at risk of death or injury by dogs and motor cars. “Following a mother whose attention is on her new-born baby or who, still heavily pregnant, is not so confident in crossing roads or gardens, the juvenile has to make its own decisions about when and where to run and when to wait. Even a moments
haste or hesitation can be fatal, and many juvenile Vervets are killed or seriously injured by motor cars or dogs during this period.” Many pregnant Vervets are attacked by dogs or hit by cars accidentally, but a significant number are deliberately targeted by airgun owners because, moving slowly due to their situation, they become easy targets. Incidents of these vulnerable females shot are not uncommon. and there is clear evidence that many shooters
are deliberately targeted a mother monkey visibly carrying a baby!”

“Contrary to statements made by the anti-monkey brigade, there is, in fact, an alarming decrease in the population of urban Vervet Monkeys,” says Booth. “The claim that there is a population explosion of monkeys is totally false. Urban monkeys are regular victims of car strikes, dog attacks, high voltage electrocution, air gun and other shootings, razor wire injuries, deliberate poisoning, and traps or snares set out to catch them for ‘bush meat’ or ‘muti’.

No amount of “natural” predation ever impacted on Vervet populations as devastatingly as has deliberate and accidental human related “predation”.

At Monkey Helpline, our two full-time rescuers respond to around one thousand rescue call-outs every year. Of these, almost seventy-five percent are dead on arrival, die en-route to the vet, are euthanized, or die within the first few days after veterinary treatment.

Consider also that only in her fourth year can a female Vervet give birth to a single baby (twins are rare) for the first time, and this after a seven month pregnancy. Research indicates that only one out or every four babies will reach adulthood. Therefore, far from needing their numbers reduced, they urgently need every bit of help they can get to survive in this increasingly monkey-unfriendly world.”

Daily News Article

Thanks to The Daily News for the article.

http://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/monkey-business-keeps-helpline-busy-1.1585553#.Ulz0WFMpmf4


Monkey business keeps helpline busy

October 2 2013 at 09:00am
By DAILY NEWS REPORTER


ND springbaby

Spring is not only a time when flowers bloom, but when the seemingly ubiquitous vervet monkey – adored by some, hated by others – start multiplying.

It’s also a time when the KZN Monkey Helpline sees an uptick in rescues of the primates, who get run over by cars, shot by annoyed humans or bitten by dogs.

Since the start of the breeding season last month the helpline has rescued 10 heavily pregnant monkeys and several newborns.

Three premature newborns had died due to trauma suffered by their mother, said the organisation’s spokesman, Darryl Oliver, but two were being cared for by human surrogate mothers.

“Females are pregnant for around 160 days and give birth from September through to December,” Oliver said.

He said of the 10 pregnant females that were rescued, only two had retained the foetuses. “Most monkeys who suffer trauma from being hit by cars, bitten by dogs or shot with air guns, abort their foetus after a few days,” Oliver said.

The organisation rescues about 30 baby vervets – usually those under six weeks old – each year. All are raised by specially trained human surrogate mothers.

“Having babies puts female vervet monkeys at risk,” Oliver said.

“One of the privileges that goes with living in KZN is that we have vervets living around our homes, schools, parks and even our factories.

“People have mixed emotions about them when they see vervets. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay,” he said.

The helpline aims to educate people to care about monkeys and to make urban wildlife areas a better place for humans and animals.

Oliver said monkeys were among the most misunderstood and persecuted of animals in South Africa.

Busting the “rabies myth”!!

It’s interesting to note is that not a single primate (non-human, that is!) euthanized after biting a human in the USA and then rabies tested, has ever tested positive! To the best of our knowledge, there has never been a positive rabies test in a Vervet Monkey in South Africa, though we are aware, and publicise the fact, that as with any mammal (humans included), it is possible for a Vervet Monkey to become infected with the rabies virus if directly exposed to it.

Whilst this information is not directly pertinent to the unsupported public fear, fueled by uninformed vets and human doctors alike, that free-ranging Vervet Monkeys are “rabies carriers”, please share it with everyone you think would find the information of use in our ongoing efforts to bust the myth of Vervet Monkeys being “rabies carriers”.

Due to the understandable fear associated with the horror of rabies, Monkey Helpline is frequently contacted for information about Vervet Monkeys and “rabies”. Free-ranging Vervets commonly eat foods that might result in “foamy-type” saliva collecting on the lips around the mouth, which is then incorrectly believed to be a sign of “rabies”, and more so if the animal concerned shows “defensive aggression” or just chatters when approached by a human. Another common misconception is that the repetitive alarm calls, particularly by various categories of male Vervets, and sometimes also occurring during the dead of night, are an indication that the monkey is “injured and calling out in pain”, or is “rabid”. It cannot be stressed enough that everyone involved in working with Vervet Monkeys, at every level and in every capacity, must educate the public with regard to the “truth about Vervet Monkeys and rabies”!

An interesting point to keep in mind and use when appropriate is that during the numerous talks and public presentations given by Carol and I every year to many thousands of people, of all ages and in diverse areas, about monkeys and our work with them, we constantly have to respond to “statements” and questions about Vervets and rabies. However, not once have I ever heard anyone expressing concern about stray dogs and rabies, even whilst it is a reality that rabies is rife in free-roaming, unvaccinated dogs, especially in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and that every person walking or cycling in or close to an urban area or a rural settlement is always at risk of being bitten by such a dog, and then contracting rabies.

Our thoughts on how it is that Vervets have avoided becoming rabies-infected, are that because they are so astute at recognising and responding to “body language”, Vervets see and sense the strange behavior of a rabid dog or other animal and avoid it as a precaution against being attacked by the dog/other animal. And it must be kept in mind that dogs are predators, and even a small dog can deliver a fatal bite to a full-grown monkey, hence monkeys instinctively avoid random contact with dogs a safety precaution. Obviously they have an understanding of the danger of physical injury and death, but have no concept of the “rabies danger”. It is also historically possible that there have been instances when a rabid dog/other animal did managed to attack, bite and infect a free-ranging Vervet Monkey, but the monkey has died from the bite injuries before actually contracting full-blown, transmissible rabies!

We all have the responsibility of emphasizing the importance of rabies vaccinations for domestic dogs and cats, or any other rabies-vulnerable pets and livestock, particularly in a rabies-declared area like KZN where it is compulsory to have your dogs vaccinated against rabies.

State funded rabies vaccinations, given independently of other vaccinations, whether by a private vet or a state vet, are FREE!

 A juvenile Vervet.  Rabid? Definitely NOT!!!  Just frightened?  Definitely!!!
A juvenile Vervet. Rabid? Definitely NOT!!! Just frightened? Definitely!!!

 

This stunning male Vervet’s aggressive defence of a young Vervet run over on a road in Havenside led onlookers to ask Monkey Helpline rescuers if he was “rabid”.
This stunning male Vervet’s aggressive defence of a young Vervet run over on a road in Havenside led onlookers to ask Monkey Helpline rescuers if he was “rabid”.

So deep is the myth about Vervets and rabies etched into peoples’ minds that just about any defensive behavior by Vervets, in response to a real or imagined threat, is interpreted as being a sign that the animal is rabid! People are hugely relieved when told that NO Vervet Monkey in South Africa has ever been recorded as being rabies infected!

This female Vervet Monkey had just seen her baby, struck and killed by a car as they crossed the road, picked up by a rescuer and put into the back of the car.  The rescuer had been called by a jogger who, unaware that a dead baby Vervet lay below the bank next to the road, believed that the mother Vervet’s protective aggression towards him was in fact the behavior of a “rabid” monkey.  The jogger left the scene before the rescuer arrived in response to a second caller who, whilst walking by, noticed the dead baby Vervet and realized that the female Vervet was threatening passers-by in an effort to protect her baby who she was still trying to coax into following her, so called Monkey Helpline to assist.  By coincidence the rescuer was at social event a few days later and overheard a person there telling a group of people how just a few days earlier he had narrowly avoided being attacked by a “rabid monkey” whilst out jogging!  Needless to say, this set the stage for an education session on “Vervets and the Myth about Rabies”!

This female Vervet Monkey had just seen her baby, struck and killed by a car as they crossed the road, picked up by a rescuer and put into the back of the car. The rescuer had been called by a jogger who, unaware that a dead baby Vervet lay below the bank next to the road, believed that the mother Vervet’s protective aggression towards him was in fact the behavior of a “rabid” monkey. The jogger left the scene before the rescuer arrived in response to a second caller who, whilst walking by, noticed the dead baby Vervet and realized that the female Vervet was threatening passers-by in an effort to protect her baby who she was still trying to coax into following her, so called Monkey Helpline to assist. By coincidence the rescuer was at social event a few days later and overheard a person there telling a group of people how just a few days earlier he had narrowly avoided being attacked by a “rabid monkey” whilst out jogging! Needless to say, this set the stage for an education session on “Vervets and the Myth about Rabies”!
Both of these monkeys were rescued on the same day, one directly after the other, from totally different locations, in the final stages of Tetanus (Locked jaw).  The stiffness and inability to eat  immediately aroused suspicions of “rabies” with both callers.  Tetanus infected animals cannot open their mouths once the muscle spasms reach the jaw and neck muscles.  As they get thirstier and hungrier they try to drink and to force food into their mouths, and this crushed food, mixing with the saliva that runs from between their teeth because they cannot swallow it, can form a foaminess around the mouth that leads to suspicions of rabies!
Both of these monkeys were rescued on the same day, one directly after the other, from totally different locations, in the final stages of Tetanus (Locked jaw). The stiffness and inability to eat immediately aroused suspicions of “rabies” with both callers. Tetanus infected animals cannot open their mouths once the muscle spasms reach the jaw and neck muscles. As they get thirstier and hungrier they try to drink and to force food into their mouths, and this crushed food, mixing with the saliva that runs from between their teeth because they cannot swallow it, can form a foaminess around the mouth that leads to suspicions of rabies!

Having babies puts female Vervet monkeys at risk!

During the last quarter of every year Monkey Helpline is called out to rescue a number of adult female Vervet Monkeys who are heavily pregnant or are carrying a new baby, and who have been attacked and bitten by dogs or who have been struck by motor cars whilst crossing roads.

The following press release has been posted by Monkey Helpline in the hope that it will create greater awareness of the vulnerability of these monkeys and lead to greater efforts to reduce the incidents of dog attack or motor car strikes:

Starts –

Heavily pregnant or carrying a newborn baby can be a huge impediment to mobility for female Vervet Monkeys, and the period between September and December each year is a particularly difficult one for them. This is the time during which the majority of pregnant female Vervets give birth!

Monkey Helpline spokesperson, Carol Booth, says that every year her organisation receives numerous rescue callouts concerning female Vervets who, being heavily pregnant or carrying their newborn baby, are struck by cars or attacked by dogs.

“Normally agile and alert these monkeys are able to avoid most dogs or motor cars, but because they are in an advanced stage of pregnancy or encumbered by their new baby, they find it more difficult to avoid dogs by getting into trees, onto walls or out of the garden”, says Booth. “Just a few seconds slower than usual, they become the victims of dog attack, usually with fatal consequences for themselves and their unborn or newly born baby. The same happens to these female monkeys trying to cross roads.”

Booth appealed to dog owners to be particularly alert to the presence of monkeys visiting their garden at this time of the year, and to confine their dogs during the short period of time the monkeys are around.

“Monkeys follow predetermined foraging routes and most people are aware of the possibility of monkeys passing through their property. Controlling your dogs in the presence of monkeys takes very little effort that ultimately translates into a huge benefit to the monkeys. Likewise, being alert to monkeys in the road or trying to cross the road and slowing down gives the pregnant female monkeys or those with newborn babies a bit more time to cross the road safely or to make the decision to wait until the car has passed.”

According to Booth this is also the time of year when the juvenile Vervets born during the previous baby season, around ten months to a year earlier, are also at risk of death or injury by dogs and motor cars.

“Following a mother whose attention is on her newborn baby or who, still heavily pregnant, is not so confident in crossing roads or gardens, the juvenile has to make its own decisions about when and where to run and when to wait. Even a moments haste or hesitation can be fatal and many juvenile Vervets are killed or seriously injured by motor cars or dogs during this period.”

And whilst Booth accepts that pregnant Vervets being attacked by dogs or hit by motor cars is, in most cases not the consequence of deliberate malice towards the monkeys, she accuses air gun-wielding monkey-haters of deliberately targeting slower moving pregnant or newborn baby-carrying female Vervet Monkeys.

“Incidents of females who are pregnant or with newborn baby being shot are not uncommon. Just this week we rescued a female Vervet Monkey with a dead foetus in her womb. A pellet wound to her abdomen left us in no doubt that she had been shot with an air gun. Grotesquely bloated by the gas that was caused by the decomposing mass in her abdomen, and suffering indescribable pain, she died just as we arrived to rescue her. In another incident, a ten-month-old Vervet juvenile rescued in Mount Edgecombe, also this past week, had an air-gun pellet embedded in the palm of her hand. So well healed was the wound that we are convinced that the pellet found in the little monkey’s hand had first travelled though her mother and had just enough velocity remaining to enter her hand but not pass through it. The baby must have been clinging to her mother at the time of the shooting, meaning that the shooter had deliberately targeted a mother monkey visibly carrying a baby!”

“Contrary to statements made by the anti-monkey brigade, there is in fact an alarming decrease in the population of urban Vervet Monkeys,” says Booth. “The claim that there is a population explosion of monkeys is totally false. Urban monkeys are, amongst other things, regular victims of car strikes, dog attack, high voltage electrocution, air gun and other shootings, razor wire injuries, deliberate poisoning, or being trapped or snared for ‘bush-meat’ or ‘muti’. No amount of “natural” predation ever impacted on Vervet populations as devastatingly as does deliberate and accidental human-related “predation”. At Monkey Helpline, our two full-time rescuers respond to around one thousand rescue call-outs every year. Of these, almost seventy-five percent of the monkeys are dead on arrival, die en-route to the vet, are euthanased or die within the first few days after veterinary treatment. Consider also that only in her fourth year can a female Vervet give birth, to a single baby (twins are rare) for the first time, and this after a seven month pregnancy. Research indicates that only one out or every four babies will reach adulthood. So, far from needing their numbers reduced, they urgently need every bit of help they can get to survive in this increasingly monkey unfriendly world.”

Ends.

Monkey Helpline replies to media questions about Chimp attacks!

Since the recently reported attack on a human by two Chimpanzees at the JGI Chimp Eden Sanctuary in South Africa, Monkey Helpline has received a number of media enquiries related to the incident.  Questions such as those below were asked:

– In your opinion, are chimps aggressive by nature?

– What can cause chimps to show aggression?

– The chimps in question were apparently tame. Is there such a thing as a tame chimp?

– There  have been cases of chimps attacking humans. Are these cases common or isolated incidences?

– What are the contributing reasons why sanctuaries for chimps are having to be established?

– Tell us a bit about the ‘bush meat’ trade.

– Why do chimps defend their territory?

– Do chimps show certain behaviour and or body language that could indicate they want to attack?

Monkey Helpline joint-coordinators, Steve Smit and Carol Booth, whilst making no claims of being experts in Chimpanzee behaviour, provided the following general information:

No, Chimpanzees are not aggressive by nature. Aggressive behavior is particular to specific circumstances. Aggression is relative. No animal is generally aggressive except under circumstances where it is defending itself, its territory, its mate or its ‘family’ against a real or perceived threat.

In the case of this Chimpanzee attack, it is obvious that the person attacked was perceived by the Chimpanzees to be a direct threat to them after “invading” space/ territory.

Large, strong wild animals such as Chimpanzees can also be overly aggressive during the time that a female Chimpanzee in close proximity happens to be in oestrus.

Yes, Chimpanzees can be tame. However, wild animals have evolved to live in the wild in circumstances where their intra-and inter-species relationships with other animals influence their position and status within their own family group and species and also within the broader animal community that shares their habitat. Wild animals kept in captivity, either as pets or exhibits, lead deprived social and emotional lives and develop aberrant behavior.

 

This can be the direct cause of incidents such as the reported attack by the two Chimpanzees. Consider that humans who are physically and emotionally traumatized often require intensive psychiatric and psychological counselling if they are to again become emotionally and socially functional human beings.

Even though Chimp attacks on humans receive huge media attention and are very emotive, such attacks are relatively few and far between. In the few cases where humans have been attacked by wild Chimps there has been extreme provocation from the Chimpanzees point of view i.e. a ‘perceived’, threatening intrusion by the human into the Chimps space, such as when there is a baby Chimp or injured one in close proximity, and the attack is motivated by the need to defend and protect.

Humans attacking Chimpanzees in order to kill them for the bush meat trade or to steal a baby Chimp for sale into the pet slavery market could also illicit a defensive attack by the Chimpanzees on their attackers.

Sanctuaries are an essential component in the rescue and care of orphaned, displaced, rescued, sick or injured Chimpanzees. Without Sanctuaries such animals would be abandoned to their fate, many to death or a lifetime of cruel deprivation in captivity. Sanctuaries also highlight the extent of the bush meat trade with its affiliate pet trade. Primates in Africa are under extreme threat as the demand to supply the bush meat market increases in direct proportion to the destruction of natural habitat and the growth in human population and poverty.

The role of Sanctuaries is becoming increasingly important with the increasing assault by humans on the populations of African Primates.

Chimps do not defend their territory against human beings – they defend it against other Chimps. However, Chimpanzees, as do all territorial wild animals, ‘defend’ their ‘personal space’ against what they perceive to be an imminent threat, human or otherwise. In such cases the Chimpanzee will choose to either defend or flee. Specific circumstances will decide which choice the Chimpanzee makes. However the Chimp will almost always threaten before attack in an attempt to neutralize the threat without actually having to engage in a physical confrontation. To avoid a physical confrontation people should be alert to the signals that would always preempt an attack.

Yes, there would undoubtedly be signs that would indicate that the Chimpanzee is unhappy with the presence of human beings or a specific individual. Anyone who is active in the presence of Chimpanzees, be they in captivity, in a sanctuary or in the wild should be aware of the potential danger that exists and should be alert to the body language and vocalizations that would indicate the Chimpanzees emotional state.

It must always be remembered that Sanctuary Chimpanzees have been rescued after having experienced some level of negative interaction with human beings, which in all likelihood included watching at least some or even all of their family murdered, and probably carry serious emotional baggage that could lead to sudden and unpredictable behavior, even aggression, towards human beings or even other Chimpanzees within their enclosure.

Negative incidents involving Chimpanzees and violence against humans, can be avoided, if human violence against, and enslavement of, Chimpanzees were to cease. The killing of Chimpanzees for the bush meat trade, and the kidnapping of their babies to be sold on the illegal international wildlife market, as well as the procurement of Chimpanzees for use in research institutions and by the entertainment industry perpetuate the ideology of human superiority over other animals including the great apes, and are therefore equally responsible for the crisis faced by the remaining populations of wild ranging chimpanzees.

(Pics are of Chimpanzees at a “sanctuary” in the Western Cape, South Africa)

 

Primate bushmeat

SA Time: 29 May 2012 08:18:54 PM

Monkey meat could lead to pandemic

May 27 2012 at 09:40am
By Evan Williams


 

AP

The nation’s favoured dishes are gorilla, chimpanzee or monkey because of their succulent and tender flesh.

Deep in the rainforest of south-east Cameroon, the voices of the men rang through the trees. “Where are the white people?” they shouted. The men, who begin to surround us, are poachers, who make their money from the illegal slaughter of gorillas and chimpanzees. They disperse but make it known that they are not keen for their activities to be reported; the trade they ply could not only wipe out critically endangered species but, scientists are now warning, could also create the next pandemic of a deadly virus in humans.

Eighty percent of the meat eaten in Cameroon is killed in the wild and is known as “bushmeat”. The nation’s favoured dishes are gorilla, chimpanzee or monkey because of their succulent and tender flesh. According to one estimate, up to 3,000 gorillas are slaughtered in southern Cameroon every year to supply an illicit but pervasive commercial demand for ape meat .

“Everyone is eating it,” said one game warden. “If they have money they will buy gorilla or chimp to eat.”

Frankie, a poacher in the southern Dja Wildlife reserve who gave a fake name, said he is involved in the trade because he can earn good money from it, charging around £60 (about R800) per adult gorilla killed. “I have to make a living,” he said. “Women come from the market and order a gorilla or a chimp and I go and kill them.”

Cameroon’s south-eastern rainforests are also home to the Baka – traditional forest hunters who have the legal right to hunt wild animals, with the exception of great apes.

Felix Biango, a Baka elder, said the group used to hunt gorilla every few weeks to feed his village, Ayene, but has stopped since Cameroon outlawed the practice 10 years ago. However, he says that every week, three or four people come from the cities to ask the group to help them to hunt wild animals, such as gorillas and chimpanzees.

While the Baka no longer hunt primates for themselves, Mr Biango says that they still kill gorillas for the commercial trade and will eat the meat if they find the animals already dead.

Though Cameroonians have eaten primate meat for years, recent health scares have begun to raise fears about the safety of the meat. “In the village of Bakaklion our brothers found a dead gorilla in the forest,” Mr Biango said. “They took it back to the village and ate the meat. Almost immediately, everyone died – 25 men, women and children – the only person who didn’t was a woman who didn’t eat the meat.”

Three-quarters of all new human viruses are known to come from animals, and some scientists believe humans are particularly susceptible to those carried by apes. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is now widely believed to have originated in chimps. Apes are known to host other potentially deadly viruses, such as ebola, anthrax, yellow fever and other potential viruses yet to be discovered.

Babila Tafon, head vet at the primate sanctuary Ape Action Africa (AAA), in Mefou, just outside the capital Yaounde, believes the incident that Biango describes could have been caused by an outbreak of ebola, but cannot be sure because no tests were carried out.

AAA now cares for 22 gorillas and more than one hundred chimps – all orphans of the bushmeat trade.

Mr Tafon tests the blood of all apes arriving at the sanctuary. He says he has recently detected a new virus in the apes – simian foamy virus, which is closely related to HIV. “A recent survey confirmed this is now in humans, especially in some of those who are hunters and cutting up the apes in the south-east of the country,” he said.

Viruses are often transferred from ape to human through a bite, scratch or the blood of a dead ape getting into an open wound. There is a lower risk from eating cooked or smoked primates, but it is not completely safe.

Bushmeat is not only a concern for Cameroonians. Each year, an estimated 11,000 tons of bushmeat is illegally smuggled in to the UK, mainly from West Africa, and is known to include some ape meat.

The transfer of viruses from ape to man is a primary concern for the international virology research and referral base run by the Pasteur Centre in Yaounde. Each week, it screens more than 500 blood samples for all manner of viruses, and alerts major international medical research centres if it finds an unfamiliar strain.

Professor Dominique Baudon, the director of the Cameroon centre, says he is concerned that the bushmeat trade is a major gateway for animal viruses to enter humans worldwide, due to the export trade.

He says that the deeper poachers go in to the forest, and the more that primates are consumed, the more exposed people become to new unknown viruses and the more potential there is for the viruses to mutate into potentially aggressive forms. At the Ape Action Africa sanctuary, Rachel Hogan, who came to Cameroon from Birmingham 11 years ago, and her team focus on the last of Cameroon’s great apes.

It is not known exactly how many gorillas remain in the wild in Cameroon. Conservationists estimates there may be only a few thousand Western Lowland Gorillas left, which are being gradually forced in to smaller groups by hunting and the destruction of their habitat by logging. In the west of the country, there are only 250 Cross River Gorillas left.

Hunting does not just affect adult apes. One hunter said a baby gorilla had screamed so much for its dead mother, killed for her meat, that he eventually killed it to stop the noise.

Most of the gorillas and chimps Ms Hogan and her team look after are babies who have witnessed the murder of their parents. She says they are often suffering from terrible wounds and even trauma when they arrive at the sanctuary. “They grieve just like humans,” she says. “We have had them where they will just sit rocking, grinding their teeth and they don’t respond to anything. You have to be able to win back their trust.”

Ms Hogan says the apes can even die after the trauma. “They’ll stop eating, they won’t respond to anything… [They] decide whether they live or die. It’s like watching a clock wind down.”

The increasing number of rescued apes is putting pressure on the sanctuary. A group of eight gorillas in the wild, protected by one dominant male, needs 16 square kilometres to roam in to live comfortably.

The sanctuary says there is nowhere in the vast tropical rainforest of Cameroon that the apes can safely be returned to the wild. “If this continues there might not be any wild populations of gorillas left,” says Ms Hogan. – The Independent

AIRGUN VIOLENCE AGAINST ANIMALS

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 morally retarded and socially dysfunctional morons 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 notifified 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.

SO, DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE YOUR NEIGHBOUR USING AN AIRGUN. ACT NOW AND PREVENT ANY FURTHER AIRGUN VIOLENCE AGAINST ANIMALS!!

Monkey Helpline contact details (24/7):

Steve – 082 659 4711 or steve@animalrightsafrica.org
Carol – 082 411 5444 or carol@animalrightsafrica.org

Pics:

Top – This adult female, who was already blind in her right eye, was rescued from Road 703, Chatsworth. She had had been sitting on an outside-mounted geyser for a few days before a neighbor saw her and reported her plight to Monkey Helpline. We rescued her and discovered that she was totally blind. She had a new pellet entry wound in her left temple, the pellet having then exited through her left eye socket. We are not sure if she has permanently lost sight in her left eye. Under treatment now, only time will tell if she is doomed to permanent blindness!

Middle – This adult male was rescued by Monkey Helpline after he was noticed spread-eagled in the fork of a large tree in Lewis Drive, Amanzimtoti. He had been in the caller’s garden since the previous day. We rushed him to our vet but he died literally as we carried him through the door. He had been shot with an airgun, the pellet entering his left side, passing through both lungs and lodging just under the skin on his right side.

Bottom – This perfect four year-old male Vervet Monkey was rescued by Monkey Helpline after the caller found him lying in her garden in Olympic Road, Bluff and unable to walk. We rescued him and rushed him through to our vet where he was euthanised after it was discovered that he had been shot with an airgun and had his thoracic spine smashed by the lead pellet, thus being rendered instantly paralysed in his lower body. He was in terrible pain, groaning pitifully as we raced to the vet. We know who shot him and after confronting the shooter we reported the incident to the police who are now dealing with the incident.

Cruel and irresponsible use of pellet guns

As promised in my post of March 10, this post deals with the ten week-old baby Vervet Monkey, Ginger, who was violently assaulted by a pellet gun-wielding psychopath in Hillcrest a few days ago.

The first part of the post is an extract from an article about the incident, written by Carol and me, and sent to the community newspapers, Highway Mail and Hilltop, this morning.
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Monkey Helpline’s Carol Booth has expressed outrage at the cowardly shooting of a baby monkey in Hillcrest this week.”On Saturday morning we received a call from a concerned resident of Surprise Ridge, Hillcrest, to tell us about a tiny monkey foraging alone in his garden. He said that the monkey was struggling to walk because of wounds clearly visible on both an arm and a leg. Initially we believed that the baby monkey, a girl, had been injured during skirmishes between monkeys, but closer inspection at the vet revealed what looked suspiciously like a pellet wound in the monkey’s right side. X-rays confirmed that the monkey had been shot twice with a pellet gun. One pellet was lodged in her lower abdomen, and the other in her left thigh.”Steve Smit 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,” said Smit. “We rely heavily on the public to help us stop this cruelty and to bring these criminals to book. The cruel and cowardly behavior 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.”
Ends.
We decided to call her Ginger, named after the Ginger Bread Man of chlidrens’ story book fame who kept running away from all who tried to catch him, because when we made our move to catch her she ran away from us along the top of a prefabricated concrete wall as fast as her little injured arm and leg would allow her to, and much faster than we expected her to be able to move. It took some speedy footwork from both Carol and I to cut her off and catch hold of her before she got into dense shrubbery from which it would have been almost impossible to extricate her.
Imagine for a moment, if you can, the terrible shock, pain and fear she must have felt when first one, then two, blunt-ended lead pellets smashed viciously into her frail little body. All alone, without the protection and comfort of her mother and siblings, she had to try and follow the route her troop had moved along, the excrutiating pain in her abdomen and leg almost to much to bear. As infection set in she was getting weaker by the hour, this exacerbated by thirst and hunger because she was not getting the nutrition of mother’s milk. And she must have been terribly confused and frightened by all the challenges she suddenly had to face on her own as well as being handicapped by her injuries.
If this vicious attack on a harmless baby monkey does not inspire you to support the calls for airguns to be banned in South Africa, nothing will! Please go to, http://www.causes.com/causes/650090-ban-airguns-in-south-africa?template=cause_mailer%2Frecruitment&causes_ref=email by clicking on this link, and by joining this Cause you will be helping us put an end to the scourge of pellet gun (airgun) violence against monkeys and other animals in South Africa.
After catching little Ginger, we took her staright to our vet, Dr Kerry Easson, at Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Durban North. After x-rays revealed the two lead pellets in her tiny body, Dr Easson elected to perform major abdominal surgery on her in order to assess the extent of the damage to her internal organs, intestines, etc. The pellet had passed right through the body wall and miraculously missed perforating any part of her intestines. It had however damaged her bladder and this had to be repaired, which Dr Easson did.
Given the necessary antibiotics, pain killers and subcutaneous fluids for rehydration, Ginger was sent home with us in Carol’s expert care. Sadly, with each passing hour she grew weaker and weaker as the effects of the huge infection caused by the bacteria-and-dirt-carrying pellets ravaged her tiny body. She died in Carol’s arms late yesterday afternoon, an innocent victim of the cruel and irresponsible use of pellet guns!
Pics – Top to bottom:
Top – Little Ginger sits on Carol’s lap en route to the vet. Her beautiful hazel eyes, as she sat watching me, in excrutiating pain and wondering what was in store for her, will haunt me for a long time to come.
Bottom – Two lead pellets, in obscene clarity and definition, show up in Ginger’s x-ray. The pellet in her leg caused a large supurating sore just above her left knee, and the one in her abdomen damaged her bladder and in all probability resulted in the infection and other unknown debilitating factors that ultimately killed her.

More about monkeys and birds in your garden…

Thought it worth mentioning that since my recent post about the reality concerning Vervet Monkeys and birds in gardens, we have had a rush of calls and emails telling us about gardens with monkeys AND birds.

Just yesterday I noticed that a pair of Laughing Doves, certainly one of the daintiest and most beautiful birds in the world, was mating in our front garden, at the same time as our local Vervet troop was also visiting. This pair of doves will obviously nest close by, and I really do hope that they will live long enough to raise a few generations of offspring. And my concern about their safety has nothing to do with the proximity of foraging monkeys!

Fact is that less than a year ago we had another pair of Laughing Doves breeding in the bottom of our garden. Then they both died, within a week of each other! One evening the female was pecking on the ground, only five meters from where Carol and I were standing watching monkeys in our exercise cages, when she was snatched by an African Goshawk. Nature at work, I know, but both Carol and I were devastated that such a gentle, pretty animal should die so violently, and right before our eyes! Still, we felt no antagonism towards the Goshawk. It too needs to eat to live, though I can’t help wishing that the whole food chain thing didn’t evolve so that one animal has to die so that another may live. Just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, a few days later the remaining dove was also on the Goshawk’s menu. Fortunately we were spared veiwing the killing, but not all the gory detail – proof of the deed was scattered under one of the trees, lots of soft feathers some even stuck to blood on the branch above, and on the ground below were two small, pinkish red legs and feet…

Funnily enough, I don’t hear any calls for Goshawks to be culled or relocated, except by those pigeon racers who lose the odd racing bird to an intrepid bird of prey, or bird breeders whose aviaries full of prisoners are irresistible temptation for hungry young Goshawks and Sparrowhawks having to fend for themselves or die of starvation.

So, give the monkeys a break, they really aren’t the villains some paint them to be, just as the letter below shows!

Hi Steve and Carol

Thank you for doing such a sterling job with the monkeys.

I just read your email regarding the destruction that the monkeys are supposed to do in your garden.

We stay on the Bluff and have 3- 4 different troops coming through our yard almost daily. We have a mostly indigenous garden and have the most trees and shrubbery in our area. (People move in, chop down trees and pave everywhere). We have 4 dogs, we have a resident genet that lives somewhere close by and pops in about 3-4 times a week, neighbours cats and a few grass type snakes. We also have a flourishing bird-life. Weavers, Sparrows , Doves, Mannicans (the usual) as well as Brown Hooded Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Barbet, Natal Robin, Paradise Flycatcher. There is also a Sparrow Hawk that flies through here regularly. We have bats at night and loads of frogs.

Recently a Hadeeda hatched its little chick in our tree right outside our kitchen door. It also happens to be the tree that the mommy monkey’s use to train their little ones to jump from branch to branch. All that happened was that the mother and father Hadeeda sat on a branch close to the chick. When the baby monkeys came a little to close to the chick, the parents would fly at the monkey. However, it is almost as if the monkeys knew it was a chick, they very seldom went too close.

This is just to say all of these can live in harmony, including the humans.

The sizes of the troops definitely have become smaller in the past 14-15 years that we have been in this house.

Thanks again for everything.

Regards
Michele & Robbie Slabbert

Happiness

In the previous blog posting I told you about baby Kyle and how he ended up in the care of Monkey Helpline surrogate mom, Jenny Morgans. It was a sad tale of death and orphaning. Now I can share with you an experience that will bring tears of joy and leave you elated knowing that tragedy can have a happy ending.

But first I must take you back about six weeks prior to the rescue of baby Kyle – (Top pic shows a crying, blood-smeared Kyle newly rescued off his dead mother’s body).

Monkey Helpline was called out to Hudd Road, Athlone Park in Amanzimtoti by Grant Thomson, who had spotted a pregnant female Vervet in his garden with a really bad injury to her left arm. A lover of the Vervet Monkeys, Grant had watched this female as she struggled to compete for food and appeared totally out of sorts because of the severity of her injury, and he felt that we might be able to help her. As soon as we saw her we decided that we needed to trap her and get her to our vet, Dr Kerry Easson of Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Durban North, for a check up and treatment of her injury.

We trapped her and rushed her straight to Kerry who, after sedating her, diagnosed a severe and badly infected bite wound to that region of her left arm above and below the elbow, and cutting right through the muscle and main tendon at the back of her arm just above and through the elbow. Kerry re-attached muscle and tendon and Leila, as Carol had named her, came to the Monkey Helpline High Care to recover.

Three weeks later Kerry checked her almost fully healed injury and declared her fit for release. Our attempts over a number of weeks to reintroduce Leila to her troop failed. The first time we tried to return her to her troop almost ended in disaster. Shortly after we released her, a group of adult females viciously attacked her, chasing her into a house where we managed to recapture her, and during both subsequent attempted releases they were so aggressive towards her whilst she was still confined in our transport cage that we decided it would be too risky to release her in her advanced state of pregnancy. We felt that in her best interests and those of her as yet unborn baby we should now place Leila in a rehabilitation programme.

Unfortunately, two weeks later Leila had a miscarriage, giving birth to a dead but fully formed, close to term, baby!

Now back to baby Kyle!

After taking Kyle into her care, Jenny took him to vet Kerry where a thorough check-up confirmed that he had miraculously survived the violent death of his mother without so much as a scratch or bruise, and that all the blood Jenny had cleaned off him was in fact his mother’s.

Back home, Jenny wrapped Kyle in a blue blanket, bottle-fed him, then carried him with her to check on the monkeys in her outside recovery cage. As Jenny approached the cage, Leila immediately came right up to her and gazed intensely at the blanket. Jenny opened the blanket so that Leila could see Kyle. To Jenny’s amazement Leila reached through the wire and gently touched Kyle. She clearly wanted to take the baby. Jenny phoned us right away, so we raced over to her house to see if Leila would actually take Kyle from Jenny and adopt him as her own.

With Carol trying to video-film the whole thing, Jenny entered Leila’s cage with Kyle. Leila rushed forward, grabbed Kyle from Jenny, tucked him into her body and ran back to her sleeping basket. We held our collective breath as she inspected Kyle and left us in no doubt that she had adopted him the moment she laid eyes on him.

Kyle, though, was not that easily convinced that this was his new mother. He squirmed and twisted and climbed and cried right through the remainder of that day and the next. He was a baby from hell, but Leila did not flinch. She gently pulled him back every time he tried to escape her hold, pushed his face firmly against her nipples encouraging him to suckle, all the time making sure he was safely within the circle of her arms. In his frustration to “escape” to his own mother who, no doubt he still believed was somewhere out there waiting to “rescue” him, he bit and scratched and pulled at any part of Leila’s body he could reach. Her gentle and loving resolve was just awesome to behold and she tolerated everything he could throw at her, holding him tight and kissing him on top of his little head and over his face in an effort to console and comfort him.

Of course Leila had not actually had a baby and it was exactly seven days since her miscarriage, so she had no milk in her breasts. And Kyle was getting hungry, and also grinchy, and he needed food! So we had no choice but to catch Leila and steal Kyle back from her. Jenny kept him with her long enough to give him two good bottle feeds and then gave him back to Leila who grabbed him from Jenny the moment she opened the inner door of the cage. Kyle, his little tummy full of warm milk, spent a comfortable night sleeping tightly clutched to Leila’s comforting body. Throughout the next day, which happened to be Friday, Leila loved and nurtured Kyle whilst he put on his very best brat kid performance. She, on the other hand, was being the best mother any little kid monkey could ever wish for – though he did not yet appreciate his blessing! He did however latch to his adoptive mom’s nipples – both nipples in his mouth at the same time as is the way with Vervet babies – but she still had no milk and this must have contributed greatly to his unhappiness. So once again, at the end of the day, we had the unenviable task of catching Leila and taking Kyle away to be bottle-fed. And once again Laila was waiting at the door to grab Kyle back from Jenny after he had drunk his fill from the bottle.

I must mention that throughout this entire process we were constantly in touch with our good friend, Karen Trendler, one of South Africa’s foremost wildlife care-givers and rehabilitation experts, who is also Monkey Helpline’s rehabilitation and wildlife husbandry advisor. Karen’s calm support and advice were invaluable!

Come Saturday morning and Kyle seemed very content as he suckled from his new mom – (in contrast the centre pic shows a sad, newly orphaned baby Kyle with his rescuer, Karon Hutchison, her husband, Gary, and son, Kyle), and Leila was going about her business unfazed, one protective arm always holding Kyle close and safe. But by that evening Jenny was like a mother hen with a newly hatched brood of chicks who were all running in different directions. She was convinced that Kyle was getting weaker, that he was dehydrated and that we must come and get him for her to bottle-feed again. You see, Jenny is used to being the surrogate mom, where she can feed and feel and touch and love the baby monkey – she is lovingly in control, just like any good mother should be! It was really hard for her to watch baby Kyle from a distance and not know if his tummy had food in it or not! So Carol and I went over and had a good look at Kyle. He seemed fine to us. But, just to be sure, I phoned Karen and discussed with her what I was seeing. She asked the right questions, got the answers and suggested we leave Kyle till the morning and see how he was doing. She reckoned that if he wasn’t acting all irritable, was latched to the nipples, looked bright-eyed and was firmly attached to his new mom, he was probably fine and that in all likelihood Leila was starting to produce milk.

By Sunday morning Kyle was still suckling, wasn’t crying and looked pretty strong. And we haven’t touched him again. He is the happiest, healthiest baby monkey you could ever meet. Leila has milk to spare and is the most awesome mom. She absolutely loves her baby!

So how did this all come together so beautifully after the terrible tragedies that befell Leila and Kyle?

When Leila gave birth to her dead baby, she carried the tiny body for two days. We decided not to take the baby away until she allowed Jenny to do so. When she did put the body down, Jenny went in, picked it up and wrapped it in a blue blanket. Outside the closed inner gate, Jenny put the little bundle on the ground then opened it enough for Leila to see her dead baby. Jenny left it like that for a while then wrapped the baby and took the bundle away. When, five days after taking Leila’s dead baby away in a blue blanket, Jenny showed baby Kyle to Leila and got the response she did, she had by complete coincidence also wrapped Kyle in a blue blanket. Only afterwards when we discussed Leila’s first reaction to Kyle did the importance of the blue blanket strike us. Jenny suddenly recalled that Leila had last seen her dead baby taken away in a blue blanket, and now when Jenny opened a blue blanket again there was “her” baby, alive! Some might scoff at this but we really do think that Leila might believe that Kyle really is her baby. After all, we have rescued little monkeys hit by motor cars or bitten by dogs and left for dead. We have treated them and successfully reunited them with their mothers, three, four, and even up to ten weeks later. The mother has recognized her child and taken it back and the experience is something that we cannot find the words to adequately describe – it is simply mind-blowing!

Now the future looks bright for mom and baby. They will form part of a seed troop that is bonded together as part of a process of bonding a larger number of rescued monkeys into a full size troop that will, in a few years time, be rehabilitated into the wild where they will live as all releasable monkeys should – FREE!!!