Baby Ginger: Update

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.
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.”


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, 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.

Another day, another monkey death!

The posting below is an article written this week for the community newspaper, Northglen News.

“Durban North is once again the scene of a cowardly monkey shooting”, says Monkey Helpline rescuer, Steve Smit. “In spite of the exposure that recent monkey shootings in Durban North have had in the local community newspaper, the Northglen News, a stunning adult male Vervet Monkey was killed by two pellets shot into his chest. The first pellet must have incapacitated him immediately because the shooter was able to fire a second pellet into him. He fell into the neighbour’s Danville Road garden and died a short while later.”

“The monkey’s body was collected by a Monkey Helpline supporter who also lives in Danville Road, and taken to Dr Kerry Easson at Riverside Veterinary Clinic for a post mortem. She was able to ascertain that one of the pellets had passed through a number of vital organs, including one lung, and finally lodged in the monkey’s heart”, said Smit. “Dr Easson told me that the monkey had died almost instantly from massive bleeding into the chest cavity.”

“It concerns us that this monkey was shot just a stone’s throw away from where the previously reported monkey was shot in James Place, but it was definitely a different shooter. We can say this with confidence because we have received some promising leads regarding the James Place shooter, and we also know that the person who shot this adult male lives directly behind the Danville Road residence where the monkey died. In both cases we are consulting legal counsel with a view to laying charges with the South African Police Services.”

Smit said that no person with even a smidgen of moral fiber in their body would shoot a monkey with a pellet gun. “It is without doubt a cruel and cowardly thing to do and people who would do this to a monkey would have no hesitation about shooting a neighbor’s cat or dog, or any bird or mongoose who ventured into, or close to, their property. This is clearly shown by the coward who shot the monkey who died in the Danville Road garden.”
Smit has appealed to Durban North residents to report anyone they know to be using a pellet gun to either shoot or frighten away monkeys, birds or other animals. “In terms of the Firearm Control Act it is an offence to discharge a pellet gun in a built up area, or anywhere there is a risk of injury or damage to a person or property. The only way we can stop these unjustifiable monkey shootings is for all responsible people to support our campaign on the Causes website, . Join this Cause and you will help us destroy the scourge of pellet gun violence against innocent animals!”


PS. Tomorrow’s posting will deal with a small, ten week-old Vervet girl we were called out to rescue this morning in Hillcrest. We were told she had injuries to both an arm and a leg and was just limping along all on her own, not another monkey in sight. Now, any time a monkey this small has been left behind on her own you can be sure her mommy is dead. No mother monkey will leave her baby to fend for herself like this unless that mother is dead, and no baby monkey leaves her mother and goes off on her own unless her mother is dead. Even if her mother is incapacitated by injury or illness the baby will stay with her!

We managed to catch this baby, saw the infected injuries on her arm and leg and took her for veterinary treatment. Under sedation, closer inspection revealed a suspicious looking injury to the right side of her lower abdomen, so an x-ray was taken, and sure enough, lodged in her abdomen was a lead pellet. And to cap it all, another pellet was lodged in her left thigh. Yes, hard as it is to believe, there lives in Hillcrest, a human being of such low moral fiber, such cowardly dispositon, that he or she could see a tiny baby monkey, take aim at her with a pellet gun, and then shoot, not one, but two pellets into that little body!

If there is one single incident that could encapsulate the entire case against random, uncontrolled ownership of airguns (pellet guns), it must be this one.

In the next post you will read about the courage of little Ginger and how she is fighting to survive this despicable attack and the loss of her mother – and why we named her Ginger!