More often than not, the phone calls I get from residents needing help with monkeys entering their homes, reveal a tragic pattern. The monkeys in question visit in pairs or alone, have no troop, and this sometimes continues for years.
What this suggests is that monkey populations in this area are in big trouble.
In the wild, a troop consisting of many individuals is crucial to the protection of the group. Monkeys being far smaller than baboons are more vulnerable to predators, are generally more highly strung and more physically fragile. When troops have been fragmented by human intervention and single monkeys or pairs are found raiding human properties, the food sought is unlikely to be the only reason for this.
Monkeys and baboons do not view humans as predators, but rather as another primate species with whom they compete for resources. As a result, when a monkey is forced to weigh up the pros and cons of spending time in a natural environment – for example, a forest far from human development, risking the dangers of predators (leopard, caracal, eagles, snakes) or spending time closer to human properties where wild predators are absent, the monkeys may choose the human environment as it offers more protection.
The presence of small groups of monkeys along the Garden Route is a sure sign that we need to look at the damage caused to our vervet monkey populations and seriously what needs to be done to prevent this from continuing.