Refinery rescues and more

The three days that have passed since the last posting have not been without drama. Two rescues at the massive petroleum refinery, SAPREF, south of Durban, left us scratching our heads trying to figure out what it is that would lead Vervets to move from the relatively safe and pristine coastal dune forest adjacent to the refinery into the apparantly monkey unfriendly refinery with its noise, oily pollution, noxious fumes, razor wire, etc. We have already rescued an Egyptian goose, two Blue Duiker, and seven monkeys from the refinery. The goose, a duiker and a juvenile monkey had fallen into oil traps and been totally covered in the thick black gunge. All three were successfully cleaned and then released some time later. The pic on the left shows the juvenile Vervet before he was cleaned of every drop of oil.

This past week saw us carry out another two monkey rescues at SAPREF. The first, a young adult female, had been caught in perimeter razor wire and after what must have been a terrible struggle, ripped herslf free. Her hands, feet arms and body were so badly cut that she must have endured indescribable suffering before we caught her. Sadly her body could not combat the massive infection that had already set in and even with the dedicated and expert treatment of veterinarian Dr Kerry Easson she died during the first night in our “high care”. The second rescue had all the ingredients of a comedy-drama. A young, adult male Vervet, who had been severely injured by two other males the previous day, took refuge on top of a “tower”in the refinery. Whilst trying to assess the best way of capturing him we were unceremoniously evicted from the area because we had not been given “special clearance” to enter this particularly high risk area of the refinery. Forty-five minutes later, Carol and I, decked out in overalls, safety shoes, hard hat, special gloves, ear plugs and safety goggles were back on site to carry out the rescue, which we did successfully, but not before I was almost blinded and hosed off the tower by very helpful SAPREF employees using a water cannon to keep the monkey from running off the tower and escaping along the myriad pipes that seem to link every structure at the refinery. Thanks to Dr Easson (below left) this young male, now well stitched together and minus one testicle, will live to fight another day.

But there is light on the SAPREF horizon. We have met with their environmental officer who is arranging a meeting for the Monkey Helpline to assist and advise on how to make SAPREF less accessible to monkeys and also to find ways of keeping the monkeys within the adjacent natural areas as much as possible.

Sadly our “dead file” continues to grow. By end of day on June 16 we had added another 32 – yes, thirty-two – dead monkeys since June 1. That is two dead monkeys every day! And since June 17 we have added at least one dead monkey every day with yesterday, Sunday 21, having been a particularly grim day with three dead – one euthanased due to severe injuries sustained from being run over by a motor vehicle, one euthanased after being paralysed by a lead pellet from an airgun, and one euthanased after tetanus (lock-jaw) set in.

The next posting will include a piece about Coffee and Coco, two juvenile male Vervets who Carol is currently playing foster mother to.