September 12

Mid-morning and there is a call from Ann on the Bluff to tell us that after hearing the sound of an airgun, she rushed downstairs from her second floor flat to find a beautiful adult male Vervet lying dead just inside the boundary wall. We asked her to put the monkey in a bag until we can get there to assess the situation. Arriving at the scene we collect the body of the monkey from the gardener and on inspection we see that it has a very clearly identifiable pellet hole in the right side of the head, just in front of the ear, and that this is definitely the cause of death. Ann tells us the neighbour, an old man in his eighties, regularly hides amongst his banana trees and shoots at the monkeys and birds who visit his extensive, back-yard fruit and vegetable garden.

So off we went to visit the old man. After depositing the monkey on the dining room table I asked “Oom Johan”, as a middle-aged woman also living there called him, if he had shot any monkeys in the past hour or so. He was horrified that I should suspect him of having shot the monkey. He did however admit that he had, in the past hour or so, fired a pellet in the direction of the troop of monkeys that had been in his garden eating his bananas. But, he said, he had aimed at the wall behind the monkeys and that having served his country for five years during the Second World War there was no way that he would have shot a monkey if he had aimed at the wall! The connection here eludes me. Is there one?

Half an hour later we were no closer to convincing Oom Johan that his aim was not nearly as true as he liked to believe, and that the monkey lying dead on his dining room table had actually been killed by him.

We took the dead monkey to one of our vets for it to be X-rayed and to obtain a vet report confirming the cause of death. We intend pursuing a criminal prosecution of Oom Johan in terms of the relevant section of the Firearms Control Act which makes it a criminal offence to fire an air/pellet gun in a residential area, as well as in terms of the Animal Protection Act. There definitely was cruelty involved, as the monkey had lived long enough after being shot in the head to run approximately fifteen to twenty meters and clamber over a 1.8 meter high wall before dying.

It is a source of constant frustration to us that the callous individuals who shoot monkeys and also harm and kill them in other ways, do so with virtual impunity because the people who see them do so and report such incidents to us, are reluctant to go to a police station to make a statement under oath, partly out of fear and partly because the police are indifferent to their complaint and even refuse to take a statement from them. Without such a statement our hands are tied and monkeys will continue to suffer and die like this.

So, if you are aware of anyone shooting monkeys with a pellet gun, go to your local police station and insist that they take your statement under oath. Then contact the Monkey Helpline and we will advise you on further steps that must be taken to help us stop this ruthless maiming and killing of monkeys.