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.

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

How many deaths will it take till we know…

Its that time of the year again when pregnant Vervet mothers are getting to the end of their seven month pregnancy. It’s a bad time for them because they are that much slower than usual and so are more vulnerable than usual to being hit by motor cars as they cross roads, being caught by dogs as they pass through gardens or shot by sadistic, pellet gun wielding morons as they forage for food in residential areas.

In the past two weeks we have rescued a young adult, first-time pregnant, Vervet from other monkeys who had viciously attacked her over the course of a few days. Her injuries were bad but not life-threatening, if correctly treated – which was done by our vet, Dr Kerry Easson of Riverside Veterinary Clinic, Durban North. Unfortunately, this extremely stressed young monkey aborted her baby ten days after being rescued. It was so very sad watching her as she gently touched her perfect, but dead, baby lying in the bottom of her cage . After giving her a short while to deal with her loss, we removed both baby and afterbirth. Hopefully she will be able to enjoy the proud pleasure of her own baby next year.

Another female in an advanced stage of pregnancy was hit by a motor vehicle right outside Equitack, the animal feed store in Assagay where we buy our monkey nuts and bird food. The monkey-friendly staff there called us immediately and we managed to get the monkey to Kerry within an hour. Having taken a terrible blow to the head she was in a comatose state and had to be syringe fed. After being in our care for a few days she started a spontaneous abortion of her baby. Not having the conscious ability to deal with this process she was in danger of dying a slow and painful death. We rushed her to Kerry who, after establishing that the baby was definitely dead, did the necessary surgery (pic on the left) to try and save the mother’s life. Opening the blood-filled womb Kerry found a dead baby and a totally detached placenta – the result of a severe impact to her body as she was hit by the car. We were devastated when, after seeming to rally well after the operation, she died during the night.

Last Thursday we rescued a young female Vervet in Umhlanga – see our previous Blog post – who was inexplicably blind and in a total daze. She was also heavily pregnant! Within a day-and-a-half she fully regained sight and also her awareness, and she seems totally recovered from whatever afflicted her. Her unborn baby too seems fine and she is now very ready for release as is obvious from her constant attempts to escape from her holding cage. Our plans to release her this past Sunday came to nought as we were unable to find her troop and were very reluctant to release her to face the world without the support back-up of her troop-mates. Fortunately we met a security guard close by who knows her troop well. He is on duty six-to-six every day and will phone us as soon as he sees her troop. It will be good to have a happy ending to this rescue!

Not so good the ending to the rescue we were called out on this afternoon. A mature female Vervet in the late stages of pregnancy was hit by a car in Umhlanga Rocks Drive, La Lucia Ridge. We received a call from Paul who said his wife had phoned him to say she had seen a monkey run over and that she had stopped to try and prevent other cars running over it as it dragged itself to the centre island and into a flower bed. We aso got a call from Mark who said he had seen the same monkey dragging herself over the road with cars literally driving over her, their wheels just missing her.

Tragically she died in Carol’s arms at the vet clinic as Kerry, who was on leave for the day and had responded immediately to our call for help, arrived to attend to her. The baby in her womb was still alive but unable to survive such a premature entry into this world, so with heavy hearts we watched as Kerry euthanased it.

Right now this world really is not a good place for monkeys. Fortunately we get great support for our animal rescue work from the Caxton group of community newspapers, which is what happened last year when the Northglen News asked us for a piece on how people can help monkeys, and especially moms and babies at this time of the year. What we sent them follows and formed the basis of their published article on the subject. The same article would not be out of place or time if published by them, and other newspapers in the group, again this year:

“The following in response to your request:

This is the time of year when, after about 200 days of pregnancy, female Vervet monkeys are giving birth to their babies. It is a very dangerous time for mothers and babies. Because urban and industrial development has impacted so heavily on the monkeys’ habitat, they have to cross many roads and pass through gardens with vicious dogs just to be able to get around their territory looking for food very day. Heavily pregnant mothers, and mothers with babies, are at even greater risk because it is so much more difficult for them to cross roads quickly, scale high perimeter walls or climb into trees when they are trying to avoid motor cars or fierce dogs. “As a consequence, many of these pregnant females or mothers with newly born babies are hit by motor cars or caught by dogs, resulting in the death or serious injury of both the mother and baby, or premature birth and death of the baby” says Monkey Helpline rescuer and spokesperson, Carol Booth.

“This year the Monkey Helpline has rescued more injured, heavily pregnant female monkeys than at any time in the past,” says Booth. “In recent weeks our high care facility has resembled a maternity ward full of injured, pregnant mothers. The sad thing is that with the exception of only two out twelve, they have all lost their babies due to the trauma they have suffered.”

Booth also said that from the number of reports received from Monkey Helpline monitors and members of the public, there is also a higher than before number of mother monkeys carrying around dead babies. “This could be the result of the drought we have been experiencing as well as extremely high stress levels that the monkeys have to endure in the increasingly monkey-unfriendly world they are being forced to try and survive in.” she said.

Booth says that the Monkey Helpline has even rescued a female monkey whose baby was killed in her womb after it was hit by two pellets from a pellet gun. “She was very obviously pregnant and the callous person who shot her must have known this.”

Booth appealed to motorists to help pregnant monkeys by slowing down when they noticed monkeys crossing the roads and to be alert to the possibility of a young monkey darting across the road in an effort to catch up to its mother. And dog-owners should control or confine their dogs when the monkeys are around. “As we have said, the heavily pregnant and new mother monkeys are much slower than the other monkeys and they need any help we can spare.”

Lastly, even though the sight of monkeys carrying babies often evokes a response that “there are monkeys everywhere” and that a monkey “population explosion” is imminent, nothing could be further from the truth. Most baby monkeys, over seventy-five percent in fact, die before they reach adulthood. “Added to this devastating juvenile death rate is the high number of older monkeys being killed on our roads, killed by dogs, shot with pellet guns, caught in snares and traps, poisoned, etc, – we are definitely looking at the reality of urban monkey extinction in the not to distant future if things don’t improve drastically for the monkeys. No population of animals, no matter how adaptive to changing conditions, can survive such an indiscriminate onslaught. Over extended periods the Monkey Helpline rescues an average of three monkeys every two days. Over a recent two-day period we rescued eight injured and dying monkeys, half of whom were heavily pregnant mothers.”

Given our experiences over the past few weeks, things are not going to be any better for pregnant monkey moms, or new moms and babies, this year. I would so love to be wrong!!

Last three days of August 2008!!

Arriving home at 12.30 in the morning of Friday 29 after a round trip of almost 400 km down the KZN south coast to release a young monkey back into his troop at Mtwalume, and then on to Cragsview Wildcare Centre beyond Port Edward to hand over a young female Blue Duiker we had rescued from fencing the previous day, should have prepared us for the weekend that fate had planned for us. But it didn’t! Waking up just a few hours later, knowing we had to leave for a three day ARA workshop at Royal Natal National Park by 12.00 on the same day, we naively set about the chores we had set ourselves to do so that we could stick to our planned departure time. No such luck!

Just as Carol and I were starting to congratulate ourselves on our impeccable timing, something most people who know us would have laughed at, we got a call about a monkey struck by a car in Umdloti, 45 km away. After the usual questions about the condition of the monkey, the exact location, and the possibility of the caller containing the animal, we dropped everything and rushed out to “rescue” the unfortunate animal, who from the caller’s description was an adult female.

Traveling as fast as responsibly possible, we were on the M19 E when, believe it or not, a monkey was hit by a car just a few hundred meters ahead of us, and as usual the driver didn’t even slow down. Stopping as quickly as I could we still overshot the monkey by at least 200 meters. Reversing back up the freeway we stopped right opposite the monkey where it lay in the middle of the road. I just managed to retrieve her body before it was claimed by a person who had seen the incident whilst traveling in the opposite direction. He already had visions of a sumptious meal, but I had other visions and his angry expletives and and gestures fell on deaf ears as Carol took the monkey from me and cradled her limp body on her lap. Her eyes filled with tears as she felt the distressed movements of the doomed baby in the womb. The mother-to-be was dead and we coud do nothing to save he baby. The movements got weaker and weaker until the unborn baby too was dead.

We arrived in Umdloti only to be told by our caller that that monkey had died and so was left unwatched at the side of the road. We searched but could not find her and after watching the remainder of her troop move out of sight up the hill we had to accept that she was en route to becoming someone’s meal.

Midday, and two dead female Vervet monkeys plus one, and possible two, dead unborn babies. August was starting to look like a normal month! We stopped off at our vet to complete rescue/admission forms for the dead monkeys and to hand in the body of the female and her unborn baby for incineration.

Then home again to complete our chores and depart for the weekend workshop – we thought!!

Only 0ne-and-a-half hours past our planned departure time and we were still looking good for a daylight arrival in the mountains, 300 km away.

Then the third rescue call of the day! In Phoenix Industrial Park 30 km away, a steel factory manager had seen his security guard arrive at work and place a cardboard box in a corner. Telling the guard to open the box so he could check the contents, he saw a bloodied monkey who then jumped out of the box and stumbled into the factory. He cordoned off the area and called Monkey Helpline. We again dropped everything and rushed off to do the rescue. Anxiety at what we would find turned to frustration when we were diverted along an alternative, roundabout route due to an accident, but we finally arrived to find the monkey lying face down on the factory floor amidst laser cutting and welding of steel. Another adult female, also pregnant. Her injuries, a badly swollen right eye and deep lacerations to her neck and left shoulder, suggested she was our third motor vehicle accident victim of the day. Carol coud feel her baby moving so hopefully he/she would survive. As for the security guard who had picked her up and put her in the box thinking she as dead, he was livid at being deprived of his “food”! But our sympathies were with the monkey and her unborn baby…

In her almost comatose state, we left her with the vet and on enquiring later about her condition we learnt that after treatment she was still in a bad way but surviving. She stayed with the vet throughout the weekend receiving constant attention and treatment when necessary. Today we brought her home to our High Care facility wher Carol will take care of her and nurse her to recovery. If she does recover fully, we will try to establish the whereabouts of her troop so that hopefully she can be returned to her family. Failing this she will be moved into either a rehabilitation programme or to the Tumbili Primate Sanctuary near Pietermaritzburg.

Finally, daylight almost gone and we were on our way to the mountains. But fate had one more rescue planned for us. At 6.30 pm and one hour into our journey another phone call, our second from Umhloti for the day. A young monkey caught by the hind legs in a snare. Too far away to attend to it ouselves we called on our trusty network of rescue assistants. Fortunately, Doug, better known for his sterling cat trap and sterilise programme, was at our vet and responded immediately to our call for help. Accompanied by Dr Eason, he raced off to help the little monkey. Even more fortunately, monkey lovers, Garth and Mandy, living in the same road as our caller, rushed to the scene and retrieved the monkey. They took the little chap home from where Doug and Dr Easson collected him and took him back to the clinic for treatment.

No broken bones but the snare had caught him around both legs and caused severe injuries and cut off circulation. Dr Easson did what she could but told us she was not hopeful of saving his legs.

Back home in Westville after the weekend workshop our first destination was the Riverside Veterinary Clinic to check on the monkeys there. You already know about the adult female. The youngster, probably only about six months old and still suckling on his mother, looked a dejected sight with his two bandaged legs. We cleaned his cage, fed him and left him there overnight. This morning we returned and after being sedated Dr Easson unbandaged the legs. Our hearts sank as we saw the extent of the damage caused by the snare. Both legs were totaly dead and necrotic from just below the knee. We could save his life by amputating both lower legs, but life without the use of his legs woud be no life at all. Dr Easson did the kind thing and another monkey soul drifted away.

And then it was Saturday.

Before breakfast a friend from the Bluff called to say he had succeeded in catching an injured baby from the troop that frequents his house and garden. It had taken him two days to lure the baby into his house so that he coud catch him. The baby had severe bite-wounds to the head and was in desperate need of veterinary attention. We directed Ian to Dr Easson who was already at the clinic. She assessed the little monkey and found that he had abcesses into his open skull and was beyond recovery. Again she did the kind thing and another baby monkey soul was released.

Then at 10.30 am another rescue call. Another monkey hit by a motor car, this time on the M4 north of Umhlanga. Again a trusty rescue assistant rushed to the scene but to no avail. The monkey who the caller had seen crawling to the side of the road after being struck by the car, was nowhere to be found. Another monkey ending up in the pot? It was with mixed feeings that we learnt on Monday that the monkey, once again an adult female, had been picked up by good samaritan, Sue Friedman, and moved into the bushes a distance off the road. She was already dead but was struck by another car just as Sue arrived at the scene.

Sunday was no less unkind to the monkeys.

On our way home from the weekend workshop in the mountains we received our first rescue call at around midday. It was an adult male monkey moving very slowly with no obvious injuries but in serious trouble none-the-less. From the description of his behaviour he seemed either blind or delirious from infection. Too far to respond ourselves, we again called on a friend to help out. He hastened to the scene where the monkey had in the meantime crawled under a garden shed. Efforts to catch him were unsuccessful and the monkey, obviously not blind, escaped over the fence into a deep, densely vegetated gorge. Chances of him climbing back out of the gorge in his weak state are slim. But as always we remain hopeful.

We arrived home at 2.00 pm and were still unpacking when the second rescue call came in – another adult male monkey, this time with a snare around his neck. We were able to respond and arrived at the scene in Hillary, Durban just in time to see the injured monkey leading his troop across the road into the bushes. Fortunately Carol had brought along her bag of irresistible goodies and soon had the injured monkey eating a short distance away. A thin wire snare was very visible around his neck and a fair amount of blood around the neck area indicated that in struggling to break loose from the snare it had cut into his neck. We were unable to get close enough to him to attempt a net capture, but knowing that he visits the caller’s home most days with his troop to share the generous offerings on the bird table, we are confident that we will trap him in the next few days.

August now gone.