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.”

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.

September 14 and 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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