The Indigenous Gardener Article

Thanks to The Indigenous Gardener for the article

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Vervet Monkeys Vervet monkeys are amongst the most misunderstood and persecuted of animals in South Africa,and certainly in KwaZulu-Natal – www.monkeyhelpline.co.za.

During the last quarter of every year, Monkey Helpline is called to rescue a number of female monkeys, either heavily pregnant or carrying a new baby. Most are attacked and bitten by dogs or been struck by motor cars whilst crossing roads. Pregnant females have significantly reduced mobility, and the period between September and December is a particularly difficult
one for them. This is the time during which the majority of pregnant 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 down by cars or attacked by dogs. “Normally agile and alert these monkeys usually avoid dogs or cars, but during advanced stages of pregnancy, or encumbered by their new-borns, they find it more difficult to escape into the relative safety of trees, onto walls or even out of the garden altogether”, says Booth. “Just a few seconds slower than usual, they become the victims of a 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 time the monkeys are around. “Monkeys follow pre-determined 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 simply slowing down will give the pregnant  females or those with new-born 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 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 new-born 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.” Many pregnant Vervets are attacked by dogs or hit by cars accidentally, but a significant number are deliberately targeted by airgun owners because, moving slowly due to their situation, they become easy targets. Incidents of these vulnerable females shot are not uncommon. and there is clear evidence that many shooters
are 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 regular victims of car strikes, dog attacks, high voltage electrocution, air gun and other shootings, razor wire injuries, deliberate poisoning, and traps or snares set out to catch them for ‘bush meat’ or ‘muti’.

No amount of “natural” predation ever impacted on Vervet populations as devastatingly as has 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 are dead on arrival, die en-route to the vet, are euthanized, 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. Therefore, far from needing their numbers reduced, they urgently need every bit of help they can get to survive in this increasingly monkey-unfriendly world.”