Shoe Box Hampers

With Spring already well on it’s way, Monkey Helpline faces one of it’s busiest times of the year. It is from around now until December that mothers from the age of 4 start to give birth to young.

During the unnatural habitat, i.e. human settlements, that the monks have to live in every day, they face far more unnatural dangers, such as humans wielding guns, catapults, etc, domestic pets, security features such as electric fences and razor wire, and motor vehicles.

Any trauma to the monkey can cause a mother to self-abort her baby prematurely. Sometimes they are strong enough to survive and be rescued and passed onto our human surrogates, and other times they are not developed enough and have either died in-utero due to trauma, or post birth from complications or abandonment.

We have put together some same packs as ideas for you if you want to donate goods in the form of Shoebox Hampers.

There are 3 categories to choose from – however, you can donate according to your budget. We understand that a single box can be quite costly, so even 5 or 6 items will help. You can even split the list between friends to make up on big box, the choice is yours.

Most of the items can be purchased from Dischem and Pick n Pay.

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1) New Born Package
– Soft baby blanket
– Face cloth
– Detol
– Glucose powder
– Protexin – Kyron (available from a vet)
– Gastropect
– Rehydrate
– Vidaylin multivitamin drops
–  baby safe teething toy
– small soft baby safe teddy
– Baby milk formula, S26
– Purity Baby Food,  Yogurt and banana, apple, – Cerelac / Rice Cereal
– Johnsons baby shampoo
– Detol soap
– Waterless hand. cleaning gel
– F10 ointment
– F10 SC spray
– Small heating pad (Dischem)

2) Monkey Pack
– Raisins
– Monkey nuts (peanuts in the shell)
– Morvite
– Dried fruit/ prunes etc
– Puffed Weat cereal
– Energade concentrate (mixed berry flavour)
– Popcorn.(unpopped)
– Brown rice
– Peanut butter
– Apricot jam
– Honey
– Samp and Beans
– Astros
– Marshmallows
– Chewable multi vitamin ( eg. Teddy vites)
– Black rubbish bags
– towel

3) Rescue Pack
– Glucose powder
– Arnica drops/ tablets
– Rescue drops/ tablets
– Traumele drops/ tablets
– Rehydrate
– Energade concentrate.(mixed berry flavour)
– Hot water bottle
– soft baby blanket
– Towel
– Crepe bandages
– Sofban
– 50 or 75m Elastoplast roll
– Micropore
– Flexus.
– Cotton wool
– Gauze swabs
– 1m syringe
– Needles (23, 21, 18G)
-Gelonet/ Parafin gauze
– Tetravac. (Tetanus vacine)
– F10 ointment
– F10 SC spray
– Standard Tourch Batteries
– Ringers Lactate
– Standard Touch/ LED Head lamp
– Cable Ties

The drop off points for these boxes will be at:

  • Riverside vet (Durban North)
  • Ashburn vet (Glenashley)
  • Westville vet (Westville)

Please ensure your box has your name, phone number and email address on.

Vervet Monkeys and Chacma Baboons – Who they are, and What they are not!!

Below is a reworked presentation I made at the University of Cape Town in October 2007. I believe it is important for everyone to know that vivisection (animal based research and product testing) is alive and well in South Africa and that wild caught Vervet Monkeys and Chacma Baboons are amongst the innocent victims of this officially sanctioned cruelty.

Today I am going to tell you something of who these two species of animals are, and what they are not. I have deliberately not referred to any scientific papers or other formal studies about non-human primates, because I am of the unwavering belief that every individual of every species of non-human primate is a sentient being who should be respected, appreciated and protected against harm wherever possible. Unfortunately this fact is mostly ignored in scientific studies where they are seen not as individuals – each with inherent value who exists in his /her own right and for his/her own reasons, and whose value is not reducible to whatever form of commodity-related value ( such as science tool, source of food or entertainment, etc) we humans conveniently attach to these fascinating animals – but rather they are seen as commodities, things, given numbers and not names!

As Michele (Michele Pickover, at the time one of the Trustees of Animal Rights Africa and long-standing anti-vivisection activist) has stated so accurately during her presentation, and I quote what you have already heard:

“Primates are highly intelligent social animals who live in the wild and have large home ranges covering a rich and varied habitat in which they display a complex range of behaviours. Confining them in laboratories and using them in experiments causes them an immense amount of suffering which is totally unacceptable.

Other primates share with us many morally relevant capacities that were once thought unique to humans. There is very powerful evidence that animals throughout the order of mammals, at the least, are conscious of their pain, pleasures, appetites and emotions, as well as being conscious of the outside world. Monkeys, as well as apes and humans, ‘know what they know and remember’ and also ‘know when they forget’. They communicate meaning as well as emotion in their vocalisations; understand and use abstract symbols; mentally represent numbers; undertake problem-solving; constantly make decisions; comprehend cause and effect; form concepts and have desires; observe and interpret the gaze of other individuals, and practice deception. There are strong, affectionate bonds between individuals, particularly mothers and offspring, and maternal siblings, that may persist throughout life. They show emotions clearly similar to those we label happy, sad, angry, and depressed. They have a sense of self and a sense of humour. Like us, they can be aggressive and even brutal or compassionate and altruistic.

Like us, they are able to remember past events and anticipate and fear future experiences – such as pain. These attributes are morally significant because they show that other primates are harmed not only by physical pain, but also by mental and emotional distress – such as is caused by a barren environment, frustration, restraint or social isolation and the presence, or anticipation, of something fearful or painful.”

I must admit to having a fascination with non-human primates in general, as I do with all animals, wild and domestic. However, probably because non-human-primates behave in so many ways, and do so many things, that we humans can understand and identify with merely by watching them as they deal with all aspects of life that confront them each day, I also identify with the many threats they face each day to their safety and well-being, and I am compelled to do whatever I am capable of to actively defend and protect them against all the injustices perpetrated against them by humans. This is why, after having been involved with primate-related issues since 1984 when I was Chairperson of the Durban branch of what is now known as the Wildlife and Environment Society of Southern Africa (WESSA), I was in 1995 compelled to start the Monkey Helpline in KwaZulu-Natal. Often throughout one’s life you look back and ask, “why did I take so long to do something? Why did I not do that much sooner? Well, I have asked myself these questions a zillion times as I go about Monkey Helpline activities every day, because every day I see things being done to baboons and monkeys in South Africa that make my stomach turn, and not least of these is what happens to monkeys and baboons who are unfortunate enough to end up as subjects of some or other research.

As I speak, the provincial conservation authority in KZN, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW), is preparing for the final public meeting that will lead to the adoption of a new management policy for all captive primates in the province – the conclusion of a process that has taken four years (now completed). And it is a process that resulted from pressure by individuals and organisations such as Monkey Helpline, concerned about the lowly status afforded primates in the province, which lowly status gave more rights to people who wanted to kill primates or use them for research or confine them in zoos than to people who wanted to protect and care for them. In fact, the existing provincial conservation Ordinance actually states that only research institutions and zoos may be permitted to keep indigenous primates. The Ordinance sets no animal welfare standards, no duty to care, relating to the capture, confinement and care of these highly intelligent and demanding animals – something which will be a very important component of the new management policy. In drafting this policy via a process of stakeholder meetings, one of the controversial aspects that needed to be dealt with was the use of Vervets and Chacmas, in fact all primates, in biomedical and other research, collectively called vivisection. What I found both fascinating and disturbing was that whilst most of those involved with this process knew of the use of primates in vivisection, hardly any of them had considered that this also affected the indigenous primates that were the subject of this draft legislation. The existence of ethics committees was mentioned as the so-called “acceptable” means of ensuring that all experiments were approved and done humanely, but it was interesting to note that even whilst this policy formulation process was underway, the BRC at UDW had applied for permits to obtain Chacma Baboons, and that during a suitability check by the local SPCA and EKZNW inspectors of the BRC, they not only found it unsuitable for keeping baboons, but actually confiscated and euthanised the Vervet Monkeys that were being housed there. It is also interesting to note that at the time that this took place, a member of the UDW ethics committee was also the veterinarian attached to the Durban SPCA. So much for ethics committees.

Do you know that no-one has the faintest idea how many Chacma Baboons or Vervet Monkeys we have in South Africa? What we do know is that habitat destruction and modification is having a hugely negative impact on these animals and as a result there is an ever increasing level of direct contact between them and the population of humans who have annexed the territories that these baboons and monkeys have inhabited for many generations. And with this increase in contact we have an increase in concerns for the wellbeing of both the baboons and monkeys and the people affected. One positive is that this situation forces more people to show a greater interest in these animals in an attempt to understand them and so lobby for greater protection for them, as both individuals and as species.

The sad thing is that few, if any, of the people who use baboons and monkeys as research tools bother to find out more about who these animals are and how they live. If they did they would discover what amazingly intelligent and complex beings they are, how well structured their societies are and very much like us they are in terms of their needs. They would realise what a terrible thing it is to trap wild primates and rip them away from their families in order to sell them into the world of vivisection. They would realise what a terrible thing it is confine them in isolation, in cold, sterile cages, deprive them of the social interactions with others of their kind that is such an important aspect of their mental and social wellbeing, and they would know what a terrible thing it is to subject these animals to the horrors of biomedical, warfare and other research.

Whilst discussing various aspects of the proposed new primate legislation for KZN during the many meetings that have taken place over the past four years, one thing that struck me was how little time the participating stakeholders had spent actually observing primates, in both free-ranging and captive situations, and I became convinced that it was this ignorance about these animals that made it so difficult for many of the stakeholders to understand what a management policy should really look like if it was to afford these animals a reasonable measure of protection against so much of the cruelty and exploitation to which they are subjected.

I say again, how many researchers actually know anything about the lives of the animals they see as mere research tools? Few, if any, I believe. If they did I think that it would lead them to more readily question the ethics of using these animals for research. But maybe I have displaced faith in the moral fortitude of vivisectors.

During the years that I have coordinated the activities of the Monkey Helpline, I have had an amazing insight into who Vevets and Chacmas are, how they live and what we should be doing to protect them against the injustice of abuse and exploitation for, amongst other things, vivisction.

They are not commodities!

They are not disposable things!
They ARE thinking, caring, sensitive beings, and they deserve the highest level of protection we can possibly give them, both officially and privately, also individually and collectively!!

(PS. All pics used on my blog posts are taken by Carol Booth.)

Vervet monkeys and garden birds

Did a talk about monkeys in the Port Edward library hall on Thursday last week, and when it came to audience comment and question time, sure enough the same old cliches about the destructive nature of monkeys were dredged up. As they they say, “nothing new under the sun”!

Anyway, the one that I find exceptionally irritating is that “monkeys are breeding out of control and have destroyed the birdlife in my garden/neighbourhood/nature reserve and more”. This is, of course a load of twaddle!
When I tell the grumpies this, they are most indignant. Then I hear about the Laughing Doves, the Dusky and Paradise Flycatchers, the Sunbirds, etc, etc, who used to nest in their gardens for years until along came the over-breeding monkeys, ate the young or eggs and broke the nests before tossing them to the ground. Even the Weavers, who usually get the sharp edge of the grumpies’ tounges for destroying Palm and Fever Tree foliage (yes, the same Fever Tree that is really endemic to northern KwaZulu-Natal and doesn’t actually belong in the so-called “indigenous” gardens of most of the rest of KZN) are in favour when the pesky monkeys come around and help themselves to Weaver eggs and chicks. Let a Gymnogene raid the same Weaver colony and the bird lovers are ecstatic!
So why is this claim that monkeys are breeding out of control a load of twaddle?
Fact is that anyone who takes a minute to see what is happening to urban monkeys and those on farm lands will see that the huge numbers dying every day make it impossible for monkey numbers to be on the increase, and our statistics and troop monitoring tell us very loudly that, on the contrary, the number of monkeys in these areas is steadily on the decrease.
So, if not the monkeys, who or what should take the blame because some folk are no longer experiencing the joy of indigenous birds breeding in their gardens and neighbourhoods, if in fact this really is the case?
Firstly, I would like to see the results of some unbiased research on the subject. Then I would also like to see if the researchers have established whether or not the displaced breeding pairs have simply decided to nest elsewhere due to interferences, including that caused by naturally foraging monkeys because the birds had unwittingly chosen to nest in the resident Vervet troop’s daily foraging path.
Surprising as it may seem to the “gotta have the birds breeding in my garden and eating off my bird-feeding tables” folk, there are many other factors impacting on the birdlife in their gardens and surrounds. Many other bird species such as certain Shrikes, Coucals, and Gymnogenes routinely raid the nests of birds. Raptors such as Sparrowhawks and Goshawks catch the parent birds and so also condemn the young to death by starvation, and believe me, the abundance of bird tables with their over fed avian patrons makes the life of these raptors just pure joy. Then there are other natural predators such as Genets, certain Mongooses (and I have personally witnessed Slender Mongooses taking Glossy Starling chicks from their nesting hole in my neighbours Natal Fig), and arboreal snakes who forage freely in our leafy gardens by day or night and who certainly don’t give any on-the-nest parent bird or their eggs or nestlings a miss. Of course we cannot deny the fact that domestic cats, both owned and feral, as well as introduced rats, and even terrier dogs such as the Jack Russell, all take a heavy toll on the birdlife in our gardens and neighbourhood. Add to this the birds dying from being shot with airguns (pellet guns) and catepults, struck by motor cars, flying into electric fencing, getting caught on razor wire, and also from smashing themselves into reflecting window panes on houses and shops, and suddenly we see that monkeys are carrying the blame when in fact they are mostly just a very small contributor to a much bigger picture.
Bottom line is that if the numbers of certain bird species in urban gardens and neighbourhoods are dropping, look for the real reasons as to what is causing this. Just because monkeys are forced to forage throughout their historical territory along routes that bring them into “your” garden, makes them visible to you, and gives you a regular target for your frustrations, doesn’t make them the destructive criminals they are branded by a small, but dangerously vociferous, frequently violent, minority!
My advice to the people who hate monkeys and use the “but they destroy all the birdlife in my garden/neighbourhood” moan to prop up their indefensible, xenophobic-like attitude and behaviour, is to take some time out and just observe the monkeys the next time they visit your garden. Then you will learn what truly amazing little animals they are, and you will realise what a privilege it is to have them around!
Come on, give the monkeys a break! And while you are doing this you might even let your mind wander to the possible effects that habitat destruction, road noise, light pollution, construction activity and noise, and even global warming, are having on the nesting success and presence of many bird species that used to frequent your garden. And whilst you’re about it, don’t forget that curse called FIREWORKS, that at the time of Diwali and Guy Fawkes, even New Year’s Eve, chases terrified parent birds off the nest when many have young or eggs in the nest, causes them to suffer broken wings, legs and beaks or to die from collision with tree branches, powerlines, and other obstacles they can’t see at night.
Monkeys really to blame for a drop in urban bird numbers? I think not!

MONKEY BUSINESS

This post is largely the article submitted to, and published in, three KZN community newspapers this past week. Its purpose is to explain the mating season behaviour currently prevalent in Vervet monkey troops, as adult males joust for position and beat off those opportunistic males who want access to females, and to emphasise that this behaviour, loud and apparently aggressive as it is, should be of no concern to humans. It is totally monkey focused:

Vervet monkey mating season is here and the result is that there is more squabbling, more fighting and lots of monkeys, particularly mature males, with severe injuries. The consequence of all of this is a huge amount of additional work for Monkey Helpline rescuers.

Steve Smit, joint co-ordinator with Carol Booth of Monkey Helpline, says that many people become very nervous of monkeys when they see the aggression and ugly injuries that are so prevalent during mating season. “But they have nothing to be concerned about”, says Steve. “All the aggression and posturing is amongst the monkeys themselves and does not translate into any aggression towards humans or their companion animals.”

Carol says that at this time of year Monkey Helpline experiences a marked increase in phone calls from concerned members of the public. “They see and hear the fighting, and also see badly injured and bleeding monkeys, and are concerned for the safety of their children and dogs, believing that they too are in danger of being attacked by an aggressive monkey. Fortunately the monkeys are only focused on the issues around mating and status within their troop and have no interest in humans or other animals.”

“We do also get lots of calls from people who are concerned about the well being of the injured monkeys”, says Steve. “ The injuries that some of the monkeys sustain can be extremely bad and to the untrained eye they look life threatening, which they often are. Interestingly enough, most people think that these monkeys have been shot or bitten by a dog. But monkey-inflicted injuries are easily recognized because their razor sharp teeth inflict injuries that resemble a scalpel cut. Once inflicted the injury often gapes and looks very bad. Our dilemma is deciding which calls we respond to and which we don’t. We can’t possibly go out and rescue every monkey who gets injured during these confrontations. We don’t have the capacity to do this, but it is also not always necessary. Monkeys have amazing healing capacity and recover from the most unbelievable injuries. However, we also know that an injury that looks minor can result in an infection, even tetanus, and cause the death of the monkey. It is never an easy decision to make but it is something we do every day. When someone phones in out of concern for a monkey, we have a series of pertinent questions we ask. Based on what we are told we then decide whether to go and carry out the rescue or not. If there is any doubt we will always go out to see for ourselves and then make the decision whether or not we’ll catch and treat the monkey.”

Carol believes that the mating season aggression between urban monkeys is far greater than amongst monkeys living in more natural areas. “Urban monkeys are under ongoing stress because of constant harassment. People don’t realize that monkeys are not invading our living space. Wherever we see them in our suburbs it is because they are in their traditional territory that has been drastically changed by human occupation and development. They have been here for many generations and have been subjected to increasing persecution, both deliberate and unintentional. Destruction of natural habitat, being chased and attacked by dogs, being shot at and chased from one property to the next by homeowners, having to cross dangerous roads, encountering razor wire and electric fencing, and much more has left urban Vervet monkeys on edge, and as a result of this the fights that take place between monkeys are more intense and frequent than would be the case if they were less stressed and had fewer dangers to deal with. Domestic dogs are predators and kill far more monkeys in urban areas than are killed by natural predators in the wild. In urban areas, as monkeys go about their daily foraging, they encounter a lethal predator in the form of a domestic dog virtually every fifteen to twenty meters. Their mortality rate is much higher than would be the case if they were living in a more natural environment, which is why urban troops of monkeys are much smaller than troops in the wild, and are in fact steadily decreasing in size from one year to the next.”

Steve and Carol are heartened by the fact that most people wish the monkeys no harm, and once their fears about monkeys have been allayed they become far more tolerant of the presence of these little animals. “Very few people actually wish monkeys any harm, and even fewer still will deliberately harm them”, says Carol. “We offer free advice to anyone who is having problems with monkeys around their home or at schools, etc, and we do many educational talks throughout the year. Monkeys are amazing animals and it takes just a little time and effort to ensure that they are not an intolerable nuisance. What monkeys need more than anything else is your understanding of who they are, why they behave the way they do, and what you should and shouldn’t do when they are around.”

Both Steve and Carol ask that members of the public understand that they are full-time volunteers doing this work out of love for monkeys and also to help people who are experiencing “problems” with the presence of monkeys.

“We get many calls every day for assistance and advice, or from people reporting an injured monkey, so we have to prioritize what we will deal with first”, says Carol. “Obviously someone needing advice or assistance is rarely, if ever, more important than a rescue, so if we must decide what to attend to first, the rescue wins hands down, and then we get to the advice or assistance as soon as we are able to after the rescue. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for callers to threaten to shoot or poison the monkeys if we don’t respond immediately in the way they expect. These callers get told in no uncertain terms what will happen to them if they do act on their threats. We also have to put up with verbal abuse and even threats of violence from people who believe that we are responsible for their problems with monkeys or because we don’t drop everything in order to give them our undivided attention. Many people erroneously believe that we are paid by the authorities to do this work and so expect us to provide an immediate service that is paid for by their taxes. Other than our personal funding of the Monkey Helpline, our only financial support comes in the form of small, random donations from the public.”

Pics top to bottom:

Top – A brave adult male Vervet monkey threatens Monkey Helpline rescuers as they pick up a twelve week old baby Vervet lying next to the road in Havenside, Chatsworth after being hit by a speeding car. He was supported by the mother Vervet and most of the troop members. When the healthy baby was returned to her mother at the same location two weeks later, this male was equally protective. On both occasions Carol was able to keep the entire troop of monkeys at bay simply by shaking and flicking a towel at them.

Middle – This adult male Vervet monkey spent eight months with Monkey Helpline recovering after the amputation of his left leg – carried out by veterinarian, Dr Kerry Easson – after a bad injury to his foot led to severe infection in much of the bone in that leg. He was released in Cowies Hill at the same place he was originally rescued, but three weeks later he was back on the very exercise cage in our garden where he had spent months regaining his strength and agility. He has become a fully integrated member of our free ranging wild troop and visits our home with them almost every day. He shows no resentment towards us for the months of incarceration, medication and injections we forced on him.

Bottom – Monkeys visiting our garden enjoy snacks in the company of a hen and an Egyptian goose. They are frequently joined by a number of our rescued cats who enjoy the brown bread we mix with the snacks given to the monkeys. Not once has there been any aggressive behaviour by the monkeys towards the birds or the cats!

Correction

Apologies!!!

Gremlins even sneak into blog postings and this happened when the wrong pic found its way into the post, “Monkeys in the news – again!” Close inspection will show that the top pic in the post is not the adult male, Nico, rescued from Winklespruit, but rather a pregnant female who was also rescued in Hudd Road, Athlone Park after being attacked and badly bitten by other monkeys.

Nico will get his chance at fame in a future post!

Ever so “Flippin’ Cute”

Monkey Helpline blog readers will recall the little Vervet monkey that Carol was holding close in the blog posting of 16 August, “Monkeys still in harm’s way”. Since named “Flippin’ Cute”, because he is such an amazingly affable and bright little chap who holds no grudges against humans in spite of the despicable and cowardly way he has was attacked by some pellet gun-wielding low-life, he has made an amazing recovery.

In addition to being shot three times into his small body, of which at least one pellet went into his chest, he also sustained a badly fractured skull, probably after falling out of a tree or off a roof when he was shot (top pic shows just how swollen Flippin’ Cute’s eyes were after the trauma to his head).

Now both eyes are completely open and he has perfect vision (centre pic). There does not, at this stage appear to be any brain damage in spite of the severe concussion he suffered. He has an amazing appetite and already I am trying to convince Carol that he is a tad plump! And he is ever so cute!!

Evenings, whilst Carol is doing admin work he sits next to her on the table with a bowl of mixed food and chomps away to his heart’s content. And he watches TV with a real interest (bottom pic), responding to various things he sees, especially the animals on Animal Planet. He was terrified by a big dog even before it barked, watched curiously as a cat was treated by a vet, and then jumped into Carol’s arms and hid his face in her jersey when a turkey gobbled.

He is uncharacteristically afraid of other small monkeys and so he is being introduced slowly to two other monks of about the same age. It is important that he keeps in touch with his monkey-hood because we will make every effort to reunite him with his troop and his mother. If we don’t succeed in doing this he will be bonded into a troop of monkeys being prepared for rehabilitation and release. Sadly, at the time we rescued him he was alone with no other monkeys around, which means that his mother had abandoned him after he was injured, or else she too had been shot and was unable to stay with him. Quite possibly she is dead! Healthy mother Vervets don’t easily give up on their babies!!

Let’s hope we get to see Flippin’Cute running back into his mother’s arms – and Carol’s tears will be a mixture of sadness and joy!

RIP, Grumpy Face!

Sometimes I wake up and I just know it’s going to be one of “those weeks”.

How do I know this? I don’t know, but I do. Experience has taught me that some things, though not many, it is better I do not know!

Anyway, it was Monday morning, August 16th, and “one of those weeks” started! Not the busiest week we’ve ever had – just uncoordinated and bitty! Rushing at the last moment to do a school talk that hadn’t been confirmed until two minutes previously. This after spending the time before and after dropping kids at school discouraging the resident Juvenile Crowned Eagle from honing her hunting skills on any of the twenty-one cats who have found a home with us. Perched high in the old Flamboyant tree (top pic), she is a magnificent animal and we are really privileged to have her spend so much time in our garden, even if the monkeys recovering in the outside cages don’t appreciate her presence in the same way we do. In fact, harsh as it might seem, her visits are good for our juvenile monkeys who were rescued as orphans, because they have gained very valuable life skills from her presence, as our older monkeys, who know what a threat Crowned Eagles are to Vervet monkeys, saturate the upper end of the valley with alarm calls for as long as the eagle is in sight. All the younger monkeys hide in the back of their cage in silence and won’t even peep out until the older monkeys sound the “all clear”.

Usually our day starts with cleaning cages and feeding monkeys. We get as much done as possible before taking kids to school, and hope like crazy that we don’t get an urgent rescue call before we have the time to get home, finish what cleaning and feeding still needs doing and then jump into the shower or bath.

An uneventful Tuesday was followed by a hectic Wednesday. Dropping kids at school early enough to be able to negotiate Pinetown’s early morning traffic so that we could get to a school talk by 7.50, we got a call from monkey-lover, Brenda, about a monkey attacked by a dog in the garden of a Manor Gardens home at the upper end of her road. So, whilst rushing to rescue the monkey, we called and rescheduled the school talk for next week. Arriving at the scene of the incident we saw that the injured monkey was a magnificent male from the troop that Brenda feeds at her home every day, and from which we had previously, on separate occasions, trapped and treated two members in need of urgent veterinary attention. During the time spent trapping the monkeys at Brenda’s house, Carol had got to know this particular monkey very well, even naming him “Grumpy Face”. By the time we arrived at the house where Grumpy Face had been attacked, he had already climbed a tree and was just out of our reach. Seriously injured after being bitten into the chest by the dog, a large male Rhodesian Ridgeback, he was still mobile enough to avoid capture as I climbed the tree in an attempt to get close enough to net him. So, darting with a sedative was the only way to go!

Enter Senior Inspector Dougie Du Plessis of the Durban SPCA, who arrived as soon as he could after we called him, considering he had to traverse Durban during morning rush-hour traffic. A well-placed dart galvanized Grumpy Face into action and he clambered painfully into the highest, thinnest branches of the tree, with all the rescuers and volunteers who had gathered, surrounding the tree to block his escape should he decide to try and get out of the tree. But he had no such intentions and just clung to the branches as if his life depended on it, which it did, trying to find a comfortable position to ease the pain that must have been swamping his body with every breath and movement.

After what seemed an eternity we all agreed that he looked drowsy enough for me to climb the tree and attempt a net capture. Not that easy because of the way a Cedar tree grows its branches, but eventually, after abandoning the net, with Carol and Dougie and the volunteer team below ready to catch the monkey if he fell, I managed to snare his tail using a catch-pole, and with him still having plenty of fight left in him in spite of his injuries and the sedatives, I guided him down the tree as gently as I could, making sure of keeping clear of his lethal canines!

Brenda just broke into tears at the sight of one of her beloved monkeys so injured and close to death. We got Grumpy Face to the vet as fast as we could, but sadly he died literally as we arrived there. What a tragedy to see such a magnificent animal die so senselessly (bottom pic shows a heart-broken Carol holding Grumpy Face just after he died). With the dog’s owner having initially claimed that the monkey attacked his dog for no reason, though Carol very quickly put him right on that by explaining that monkeys only ever bite dogs in self defense and never just attack a dog because they are vindictive or having a bad day, we were left wondering whether there was another dog- bitten monkey to whose defense Grumpy Face had rushed, bravely sacrificing his own life in the process.

With most of his troop in close attendance during the entire rescue operation, we certainly had not seen any other injured monkey, and a post-rescue search also yielded nothing. What we did see and which touched the hearts of all who had gathered, was the pregnant female monkey who stayed close throughout the whole incident, calling gently to Grumpy Face in an attempt to entice him to follow the troop, which, for the safety of all its members usually only stays in the same place for as long as is necessary and must keep moving throughout its territory. It is a sobering experience to watch a troop of monkeys milling around anxiously as they delay their departure in the hope that their injured troop-mate will regain the strength needed to follow them. But eventually they do leave and in this case the loyal female was forced to leave too, as the safety of her unborn baby and that of her one year–old remained her primary responsibility!

Look out for the upcoming separate blog postings in which I’ll share with you the collection of incidents that coloured the remaining days of the week!

Monkeys still in harms way

The reaction from blog readers to the previous blog about the pregnant female from Hillcrest who had to be euthanised because of the damage caused to her body and her unborn baby by the five lead pellets that had been shot into her was quite phenomenal. Readers were outraged by the brutality of the unwarranted attack on a pregnant monkey and all wanted to know if it would be possible to identify and prosecute the guilty person/persons.

Yes, it is possible to identify and prosecute the scum who would be so callously cruel to an innocent animal. But only if we get a sworn statement from an eye witness. If it seems that simple, it isn’t!

(Top pic – Carol gets up close and personal with a ten-month old baby Vervet, rescued this week, who already has three, yes three, pellets in his small body. And he also has a multi-fractured skull, hence the swollen shut eyes, after falling from a high tree as he tried to get away from whatever was causing the pain that was wracking his little frame.)

Every time we rescue a monkey who has been shot with a pellet gun we immediately flood the surrounding area with our “pellet gun leaflet”, which highlights the suffering associated with injuries caused by lead pellets, sets out the nature of the criminal offence of discharging a pellet gun in a residential area as contained in the relevant section and paragraphs of the Firearm Control Act, and calls on residents of the area to report any pellet gun abuse by neighbours to us.

Inevitably we get one of two responses, sometimes both:

– Defensive and indignant calls from individuals who think that they are the only one who found our leaflet in their post box and then claim that they are being set up by a neighbour who doesn’t like them. Often this call is from the very person who has already been pointed out to us by neighbours as the shooter!
– Animal-, even monkey- loving people who claim that one of their neighbours shoots at monkeys and other animals with a pellet gun.

Whichever response we get, it is usually pretty simple to identify who the shooter is. What isn’t that simple is convincing most witnesses to go to their local police station and make a sworn statement about what they have seen. But why this reticence to take the crucial step that will go a long way towards getting the suspect arrested and prosecuted?

(Second pic – A beautiful female Vervet, heavily pregnant, shot twice with a pellet gun this week. One pellet entered her abdomen and also killed her unborn baby. She suffered terribly and was found as she died, bent over with her face in her hands and the grimace etched on her face showing the excrutiating pain she endured for at least a week after being shot).

Mostly the answer from witnesses is that they don’t want to develop bad relations with the shooter (neighbour). Or, the shooter is “well connected” with the local police and will not get charged. Or, that the shooter is a “dangerous” person who might “do something” to the witness or even kill the witness’s own pets. And more…

Fact is that without the statement from the witness our hands, and those of the law enforcers, are tied. When we impress upon the witness how important their statement is, they usually say that they will definitely make a statement the next time they see the shooter using the pellet gun. That’s great, but then, as I point out, they must accept that they are also saying that another, and another, and another monkey will be shot before they are prepared to report the shooter and follow this up with a sworn statement to the police – just so that they don’t piss off their neighbour and spoil their “good” neighbour relationship. Get serious! Who in their right mind wants to have a good relationship with a moronic neighbour who you know is cruelly shooting monkeys and/or other animals? Would you want to maintain a “good” relationship with a neighbour who you discover is physically or sexually abusing children? I think not!

(Third pic – Grosvenor Girls’ High School learners, Louise Joubert (left) and Rachel Van Rensburg, hold the pregnant female Vervet, paralysed in her lower body, who they watched over and fed in the school grounds last week until Monkey Helpline arrived to rescue her).

But we don’t tell witnesses to have the guts to do the right thing. We realize that just phoning us is already a big step and we really appreciate this. We are very polite and we ask them nicely to think about it very carefully and then to let us know if they change their minds because they have it in their power to save more monkeys from horrible suffering and death.

(Bottom pic – The pregnant Vervet rescued from Gosvenor Girls’ High School, paralysed by a lead pellet that smashed her spine, about to be taken to the vet to be euthanised).
And in the meantime, whilst they are making up their minds, and maintaining good relationships with the monkey murdering neighbour, we carry on the grim task of picking up the dead and dying monkeys!

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people are evil, but because of the people who do nothing about it”. Albert Einstein

More Monkey Misery

Its been almost two months since my last blog posting and the time has really been filled with the usual number of monkey rescues, which included a capuchin and a White-eared Marmoset, as well as rescues of all kinds of other animals, including dogs, cats, chickens and numerous other birds and even a few snakes. But what I want to share with you in this posting are the experiences we had on three particular rescue call-outs very recently.

Wherever possible we make use of the printed media to publicise the incidents we deal with, firstly to educate the public about the consequences of human intolerance and cruelty towards animals, and secondly to try and get the message through to those morally retarded sub-humans who perpetrate acts of violence against animals, that they are under scrutiny and will be prosecuted at the first opportunity that arises

Information supplied to the Queensburgh News:

Over a year ago we, the Animal Rights Africa Monkey Helpline project, were called out to the Northdene home of a family who is visited daily by a troop of Vervet monkeys. They love the monkeys and routinely put out some food for them to forage as they pass through. The monkeys stop only for as long as it takes them to eat what is there, then they move on peacefully. They never attack the humans or their pets, don’t purposely trash the garden and certainly don’t do anything that would warrant any act of violence being directed at them by humans.

The reason we were called to this particular home was out of concern for a female monkey who had a wire snare tightly caught around her chest. Our efforts to trap her were unsuccessful because she was so nervous of humans that she would not go anywhere near the trap we set for her. Efforts to dart her proved just as frustrating because she would flee the moment she saw anything suspicious. Inhibited by the constriction of the snare that was now cutting into her flesh, she lost weight to the point where the snare was actually loose enough for her to work it down from her chest to her lower body, and from there it was just a question of time before she managed free herself from the snare completely. She even had a new baby this past baby season.

Then today, June 13, we received a phone call from a house just around the corner from where we had for so long tried to catch the snared monkey. Arriving there we found a mature adult female Vervet monkey lying in the garden, the rest of her troop in close attendance. We caught her easily as her futile efforts to escape using only her arms to drag herself along were pathetically hopeless. Our worst fears were confirmed when the vet’s x-rays showed that she had at least four lead pellets in her body and that the one had entered her right side and lodged in the spinal cord, paralyzing her lower body and leaving her in excruciating pain and fearfully confused at not being able to walk or climb or protect her six or seven month old baby. The baby had sat on a branch above her bravely threatening us as we caught her, but the little fellow’s threats had no effect on the humans he must have believed were going to take his mom off for a meal. What else could he expect of humans given the experiences he’d had of them so far during his short life.

And then, to add to the tragedy, we noticed the scar encircling her chest and back and we knew too that this was the female who had cheated death once before when she managed to get rid of the snare that threatened to choke her to death. This time she would not be so lucky and it was with heavy hearts that we witnessed her life slip gently away as the vet did the kindest thing she could and euthanised her. But spare a thought for the little orphan who will now have to make his way through every day, facing all the obstacles of monkey life in an urban area and hope to have an older brother, sister or aunt to snuggle close to at night!

We drove home vowing to continue our fight to protect these beautiful and fascinating little animals from the actions of those cruel and ignorant humans who so readily resort to violence against innocents who are unable to defend themselves. Over eighty percent of all monkeys rescued by the Monkey Helpline have got lead pellets lodged in their bodies!

Discharging a pellet gun in an urban area, ands even pointing a pellet gun at person or property, is an offence in terms of the Firearms Control Act. Report incidents of pellet gun crime to Monkey Helpline or your nearest SAPS or Metro Police station, and help us protect the monkeys and other animals, and even humans, against these bloodthirsty criminals.

Information supplied to the Northglen News:

This past week has again turned out to be a bad one for monkeys generally, and particularly for the monkeys living in the Durban North area.

Last week the Monkey Helpline was alerted to a monkey in Umgeni Heights with what appeared to be black oil covering her entire body. After a number of phone calls from concerned residents, Carol Booth and Steve Smit managed to trap the monkey and discovered that she was in fact covered in a dark varnish or bitumen type substance.

“This was obviously a deliberate act of cruelty by some uncaring person who must have trapped the monkey and then poured the varnish over her whilst she was confined in the trap”, said Carol. “The ignorance and antagonism of some anti-monkey people is unbelievable. They still believe in the old myth that by catching and painting a monkey, usually white, then releasing it, you will instill such fear in the remainder of the troop that they will run away and never be seen in the area again. It stems from the nineteenth century days of the boers who painted baboons and monkeys with white wash or wet them and threw bread flour all over them to keep them out of their crops. It did not work then and doesn’t work now. Every painted monkey we have rescued was found in their troop in the same area they were painted. It is just very cruel and very unnecessary”.

“What makes this particular case even worse is that this young female is pregnant with her first baby and unless we are able to clean her without removing too much hair she will have to stay with us in captivity and give birth to her baby here. This will cause her terrible stress and depending how long she is with us will determine how successfully she and her baby can be integrated back into their troop”.

In another case of blatant cruelty and in contravention of both the Firearm Control Act and the Animal Protection Act, a young monkey was injured after a rock was thrown at it from a residential property in Sunningdale by a construction worker. According to an eye witness the monkey fell to ground crying pitifully, with a number of other monkeys frantically trying to help it. After a while a person emerged from the property and took the still crying monkey inside. A short while later the sound of a pellet gun being discharged was heard and the monkey was silenced.

Monkey Helpline was called and managed to take possession of the monkey’s body. Steve said that when he first asked for the monkey’s body, the person who admitted to having killed the monkey said he had buried it. However when the body was brought out it was very obvious that it had not been buried. “It was wrapped in brown paper and was obviously destined for the pot or for muti use”, said Steve. “We could see that the monkey had been shot into the chest below the left arm and when I asked who had shot it the same person admitted to having done so. He claimed that ‘hundreds’ of monkeys had rampaged through the property and were attacking his dogs. Both dogs were right there and had not a mark on them”, said Steve.

Steve said that the incident had been reported to both the SPCA and the SAPS and that Monkey Helpline and the other witnesses to the incident would submit sworn statements in an effort to get the person who shot the monkey prosecuted. “We have x-rays of the body showing the pellet and are awaiting the vet’s report to substantiate our statements”.

Carol said that much antagonism and violence towards monkeys was based on ignorance or arrogance. “By educating people, and prosecuting where necessary, we hope to change this. People must realize that the troops of monkeys they see have lived here for hundreds of years and that our development has impacted adversely on them. They have a right to be here and we must learn how to live in harmony with them. This only requires a bit of tolerance and understanding on our part. Whilst many people fear being attacked by monkeys or catching rabies from them, these fears are unfounded. Monkeys only bite in extreme cases of provocation and only in self defense. Dogs only get bitten after they have attacked and caught a monkey. And as for rabies, there has never been a recorded case of a rabid monkey in South Africa. Monkeys can get rabies just like any other mammal, including humans, but they are not rabies carriers”.

Carol and Steve ask people to contact the Monkey Helpline if they are having problems with monkeys or know of anyone shooting them. “We do our best to provide practical, humane solutions and it is definitely not necessary to resort to cruelty when dealing with monkeys”, concluded Carol.