One of the privileges that goes with living in the eastern and north eastern regions of South Africa is that we also have Vervet monkeys living around our homes, schools, parks and even our factories. And with the presence of monkeys we also have mixed emotions about them. But love them or hate them, even be indifferent to them, they are here to stay IF we can educate and enlighten enough people to care about who monkeys really are!
Those people who dislike or fear monkeys are directly, and indirectly, responsible for the unwarranted bad press they get and also most of the terrible suffering they endure every day.
So what are we, the Monkey Helpline, based in Westville near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, doing for people and the Vervet monkeys?
To start with, we devote much of our time to educating people about the reasons why the monkeys are here, why monkeys behave the way they do, the things people should do or not do when monkeys are around, and how to humanely keep monkeys away from those places where they are not welcome. Just knowing that monkeys will NOT attack and bite people, and that they DON’T carry rabies, is enough to change antagonism and fear into tolerance and appreciation in many cases.
We also run a rescue operation and a high care unit. We rescue an average of three monkeys every two days, and their injuries range from wounds sustained during fights with other monkeys, dog bites, being run over by motor vehicles, electrocution, being snared, trapped or poisoned, and being shot with pellet guns, catapults and firearms. Many are babies who are orphaned or injured when mother monkeys are attacked. Over eighty percent of the monkeys we rescue, irrespective of the reason why, have got pellets lodged in their bodies. Pellets cause terrible pain, suffering and a lingering death, and no person, adult or child should ever shoot monkeys with a pellet gun. As the only dedicated monkey rescue project in KwaZulu-Natal, the Monkey Helpline is available to do rescues 24 hours a day, every day! On any given day we are treating between ten and twelve monkeys in our high care unit – sometimes as many as eighteen!
Education is a vital tool in our hands and we distribute thousands of information leaflets, and we often visit schools to do talks about the monkeys. We also do talks to many other interest groups such as police cadets, garden clubs, conservation bodies, body corporates, etc.
The Monkey Helpline is a volunteer group and all our services are free of charge. However, Monkey Helpline is self-funded and donations towards the substantial rescue (including petrol and cell phone), veterinary and after-care costs are desperately needed.
For more information about Vervet monkeys and how to live with them, contact Carol or Steve HERE.