Having babies puts female Vervet monkeys at risk!

During the last quarter of every year Monkey Helpline is called out to rescue a number of adult female Vervet Monkeys who are heavily pregnant or are carrying a new baby, and who have been attacked and bitten by dogs or who have been struck by motor cars whilst crossing roads.

The following press release has been posted by Monkey Helpline in the hope that it will create greater awareness of the vulnerability of these monkeys and lead to greater efforts to reduce the incidents of dog attack or motor car strikes:

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Heavily pregnant or carrying a newborn baby can be a huge impediment to mobility for female Vervet Monkeys, and the period between September and December each year is a particularly difficult one for them. This is the time during which the majority of pregnant female 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 by cars or attacked by dogs.

“Normally agile and alert these monkeys are able to avoid most dogs or motor cars, but because they are in an advanced stage of pregnancy or encumbered by their new baby, they find it more difficult to avoid dogs by getting into trees, onto walls or out of the garden”, says Booth. “Just a few seconds slower than usual, they become the victims of 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 period of time the monkeys are around.

“Monkeys follow predetermined 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 slowing down gives the pregnant female monkeys or those with newborn 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 baby 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 newborn 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.”

And whilst Booth accepts that pregnant Vervets being attacked by dogs or hit by motor cars is, in most cases not the consequence of deliberate malice towards the monkeys, she accuses air gun-wielding monkey-haters of deliberately targeting slower moving pregnant or newborn baby-carrying female Vervet Monkeys.

“Incidents of females who are pregnant or with newborn baby being shot are not uncommon. Just this week we rescued a female Vervet Monkey with a dead foetus in her womb. A pellet wound to her abdomen left us in no doubt that she had been shot with an air gun. Grotesquely bloated by the gas that was caused by the decomposing mass in her abdomen, and suffering indescribable pain, she died just as we arrived to rescue her. In another incident, a ten-month-old Vervet juvenile rescued in Mount Edgecombe, also this past week, had an air-gun pellet embedded in the palm of her hand. So well healed was the wound that we are convinced that the pellet found in the little monkey’s hand had first travelled though her mother and had just enough velocity remaining to enter her hand but not pass through it. The baby must have been clinging to her mother at the time of the shooting, meaning that the shooter had 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, amongst other things, regular victims of car strikes, dog attack, high voltage electrocution, air gun and other shootings, razor wire injuries, deliberate poisoning, or being trapped or snared for ‘bush-meat’ or ‘muti’. No amount of “natural” predation ever impacted on Vervet populations as devastatingly as does 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 of the monkeys are dead on arrival, die en-route to the vet, are euthanased 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. So, far from needing their numbers reduced, they urgently need every bit of help they can get to survive in this increasingly monkey unfriendly world.”