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.

Monkey Helpline update – July 21 to mid-August 2009

Every time I write a posting for this blog I am so enthused by the act of sharing with interested people all that which we deal with every day that I fully intend doing a daily posting so that every day’s activities are shared with you. But then the reality of what keeps us hectically busy each day kicks in and days, weeks and even a month pass before I get to sharing our trials and tribulations, joys and heartaches with you again. But right now, as I sit here typing, I am again enthused in exactly the same way so, come hell or high water, I will do another posting tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and … . We’ll see!

So what have Carol and I been up to since our last posting more than a month ago?

Well, what I can tell you is that our “high care” has never been so full, for a short while reaching forty-two monkeys in various states of physical healing. At present we have thirty-three monkeys in our care. During this time we transferred six monkeys to WATCH, the Vervet rehabilitation centre near Vryheid run by Bruce Cronk and Sandy Palm. Another twelve monkeys were transferred to The Hamptons Wild Care Center in Byrne Valley run by our friends James and Jan Hampton. These monkeys will form the core of the seed troop that James and Jan will build with the babies they receive from rescuers during this coming birthing season.

It really sounds terrible to say that we have dealt with the usual spate of injuries and deaths caused mostly by motor vehicles, dog attacks, pellet guns, electrocution, monkey fights, snares, razor wire and the rest, but that is the reality. This really is monkey hell and not much changes for the monkeys from one month to the next.

We rescued another juvenile monkey covered in paint, details contained in the following article written by us for the South Coast Sun newspaper, and published:

Horrible sights greet the Monkey Helpline rescuers as they go about the daily business of rescuing badly injured, sick or otherwise in desperate need of human help Vervet monkeys. And this past week has been no exception!

“Amongst the heart-breaking sights that have greeted us was that of a juvenile monkey in Athlone Park, Amanzimtoti covered in white acrylic PVA paint.,” said Monkey Helpline co-ordinator, Steve Smit. “Between November 2008 and January 2009 we rescued three painted monkeys from the same area. There is an old myth that if you catch a monkey and paint it white it will run back to its troop which in turn will run away from it and ultimately disappear over the horizon. Obviously some people in Athlone Park who are being troubled by monkeys believe this nonsense and have decided that this is the way to resolve their problem.”

“The first three monkeys were trapped and painted by the same person who we identified and have reported to the Amanzimtoti SAPS,” said Steve. We are awaiting the state prosecutor’s decision on prosecution.”

After three days of attempting to catch this latest victim of the “white paint myth”, Steve and fellow Monkey Helpline co-ordinator, Carol Booth, managed to rescue the little monkey after it was trapped in the house of the caring Athlone Park resident who had originally noticed the traumatized animal and reported it to the Monkey Helpline.

“Our efforts to trap the monkey were unsuccessful because every time it came near any food we put down the other monkeys would chase it away because of its unfamiliar appearance. It was badly traumatized due to constant harassment by fellow troop members and was getting really hungry,” Steve explained. “As with the previous three painted monkeys from the same area, this one was found right in the midst of its troop, which once again shows that the whole thing about painting monkeys to keep the troop away is a load of hogwash. In fact the only consequence is extreme cruelty which will result in prosecution if the culprit is caught. The Animal Protection Act makes provision for severe penalties for animal cruelty offenders if found guilty.”

Amazingly, during the second day’s efforts to catch the painted monkey, the rescuers were approached by a man who lived close by and asked what they were doing. “We told him we were trying to catch a monkey and he offered to catch one for us,” said Steve. “He said he had caught one just a day or two ago and painted it white before releasing it. I could hardly believe my ears and our luck. I pretended to doubt his ability to do this and asked him how he had managed to do so. He said I should accompany him into his property, which myself and fellow Monkey Helpline rescuer, Rhyan Rudman, did. This man, who identified himself as Jay, took us to an outside room and pointed to this as the place in which he had trapped the monkey. When I asked how had had actually restrained the monkey in order to paint it, he replied that he had thrown a loose carpet over the animal and held it like that whilst the white paint was poured over it. The carpet as well as the tin of paint had been left right there where the act of cruelty had taken place. There was also a lot of white paint on the ground as well as low down on the outside wall of the room. I had no doubt that this was exactly where the little monkey had been caught and painted.”

Steve said that he had already been to the Amanzimtoti police station and discussed this incident with the Senior Superintendent in charge. “We have been asked to provide sworn statements regarding this incident after which the Senior Superintendent will discuss the matter with the State Prosecutor with a view to prosecuting the offender. This is a blatant act of cruelty and we want an example made of this man. People need to know that cruelty to animals is unacceptable in a civilized society and that offenders will be punished to the full extent that the law permits.”

As for the little monkey, he will remain in the care of Steve and Carol, who run the Monkey Helpline “high care” at their home, until all the paint has been removed. Then he will be returned to his troop.

We rescued a sub-adult female Vervet on the Prince’s Grant Golf Estate who somehow got entangled in a fishing trace and had treble-hooks embedded in her mouth and right leg. The hooks were connected by nylon and trace-wire and even had a float attached. As the monkey moved around the hooks tore at her flesh causing sever injuries and infection. At one stage she actually carried the float in her hand as she moved around the golf estate. The day before we trapped her, the hooks must have been torn from her flesh after getting caught on vegetation as she ran through the bush, leaving ugly wounds.

Whilst in our care, and under veterinary treatment, she almost died from the infection caused by her injuries, but with the expert treatment by our dedicated vet, Dr Kerry Easson, and Carol’s tireless after-vet care, she made a full recovery and was released back to her troop on September 1, fittingly, International Primate Day!

Then there was the juvenile Vervet from Salt Rock with a nylon snare around her chest, trapped by a dedicated husband and wife team, Jane and Dirk, with a trap loaned from Primates Africa. We were asked by PA to remove the monkey from the trap, which we did. We then removed the nylon snare which had cut so deeply into the little monkey that she had to be taken to the vet to be cleaned and stitched. After ten days in the Monkey Helpline “high care” she was released back to her mother by Jane (pic on the right) and Dirk.

Sadly, our records for rescue call-outs for the past three months show just over one hundred and fifty dead monkeys – sixty-seven for June alone! Such carnage, yet we are still confronted daily by those intolerant, self-absorbed, small-minded idiots who insist that there is an overpopulation of monkeys and that they should be culled, “as was done in the good old days”! Well, lots of things that were done in “the good old days” are no longer permitted in the democratic, post-apartheid South Africa, but I guess some people never change.

That’s it for tonight. As promised, another posting will follow in the early, gravel-eyed hours of tomorrow!!