“We see things as they are, not as we are”; an Anais Nin quote that knocks on the door of my mind repeatedly when I am in the company of wild monkeys or baboons. Observing these related primates close-up raises questions about the human-wildlife relationship that cannot be avoided. Since moving to Kwa-Zulu-Natal, this has again been brought into sharp focus.
It’s different here.
I’ve spent the last fourteen years on the border of the Tstisikamma National Park where wild primates have the choice to seek food in human areas or stick to the wilder places. In Umhlanga Rocks, although I have not been observing the monkeys for too long, the fact that they have little choice but to turn to humans to survive cannot be avoided. Severe injuries are common as troop compete in developed urban areas – seeking food from the few residents who are prepared to offer it.
It is commonly believed that monkeys in KZN are “over populated” and yet from their perspective, it is humans who have encroached on their natural habitat, taken their wild choices away and then blamed them for daring to get food from human areas.
The question facing us is what to do in order to save these primates from further persecution?
Monkeys in Umhlanga Rocks – breaking down misconceptions