Daily News Article

Thanks to The Daily News for the article.


Monkey business keeps helpline busy

October 2 2013 at 09:00am

ND springbaby

Spring is not only a time when flowers bloom, but when the seemingly ubiquitous vervet monkey – adored by some, hated by others – start multiplying.

It’s also a time when the KZN Monkey Helpline sees an uptick in rescues of the primates, who get run over by cars, shot by annoyed humans or bitten by dogs.

Since the start of the breeding season last month the helpline has rescued 10 heavily pregnant monkeys and several newborns.

Three premature newborns had died due to trauma suffered by their mother, said the organisation’s spokesman, Darryl Oliver, but two were being cared for by human surrogate mothers.

“Females are pregnant for around 160 days and give birth from September through to December,” Oliver said.

He said of the 10 pregnant females that were rescued, only two had retained the foetuses. “Most monkeys who suffer trauma from being hit by cars, bitten by dogs or shot with air guns, abort their foetus after a few days,” Oliver said.

The organisation rescues about 30 baby vervets – usually those under six weeks old – each year. All are raised by specially trained human surrogate mothers.

“Having babies puts female vervet monkeys at risk,” Oliver said.

“One of the privileges that goes with living in KZN is that we have vervets living around our homes, schools, parks and even our factories.

“People have mixed emotions about them when they see vervets. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay,” he said.

The helpline aims to educate people to care about monkeys and to make urban wildlife areas a better place for humans and animals.

Oliver said monkeys were among the most misunderstood and persecuted of animals in South Africa.