A transient male – who had his whole hand ripped off by another male – making his way into an urban troop in Umhlanga Rocks. Transient males suffer abnormal, serious injuries when competing for resources in areas where their natural habitat has been encroached on by human development. These monkeys have no option but to turn to humans to survive. The obvious solution to this problem would be protective legislation that is actively enforced, as opposed to the current nature conservation laws which allow these species to be persecuted with a range of extremely cruel consequences.
WHEN BABOONS/MONKEYS ARE RAIDING YOUR HOME.
The first question to ask yourself when you feel that your wild neighbors are crossing boundaries, entering your property or home and taking what you feel should belong to you, is “what is attracting these baboons/monkeys here?”
Once you have discovered whether it is an exotic fruit tree, your compost heap, black garbage bag or the fruit bowl left on your kitchen table, you then have the choice to remove the attraction. The answer to avoid having your property raided by baboons/monkeys is really as simple as that.
While it is true that a troop will check out your property if your neighbor if feeding them, this should not pose a problem if your property consistently offers no attraction as the troop will move on quickly after repeatedly learning that hanging around your property is a waste of valuable time.
The choice only becomes complicated when residents feel that practicing tolerance and erecting baboon/monkey proof deterrents is an inconvenience. However, those of us who do this are offered the privilege of living with these wild primates in a harmonious way.
HOW HUMANS ARE DAMAGING TROOP STRUCTURES:
It is mostly the males in baboon troops that are targeted by humans which causes a skew in the male/female ratio that impacts on all that is reliant on this. One mistake we make, when understanding the way in which we contribute to the dysfunction of healthy troop structures is to assume that only the physical impact matters. To ignore the complex psychological components necessary for wild primate species that are based on social relationships, is to deny a crucial element that is integral to a healthy bio-diversity. An example is to make the mistake of assuming that our baboon populations are healthy simply because we see “lots” of individuals in a troop. The correct manner to assess the health of a baboon or monkey troop is to observe the ratio of adult males to females and then to note this in relation to the sub adults, juveniles and infants. A healthy baboon troop will have one adult male to three or four adult females. Male baboons enter sub-adulthood at about 6 years old and become adult at the age of ten, while females are sexually mature around the age of five years old. On average a male baboon will leave his troop for the first time around the age of seven years and is considered to be a sub-adult at this age as opposed to an adult male.
THE SINGLE MALE THAT RAIDS YOUR PROPERTY:
Residents who come across single male baboons or monkeys on their property often mistake them to be “rogue” males. There are a couple of reasons why you may find a single male baboon on your property but the most common one is that these males are young teenagers who may have left their troops to find a new one for the very first time. Males generally leave their troops to find new troops about five times in their lives. These single males are correctly termed “transient” or “dispersing” males. It can take months for these males to integrate into a new troop and during this vulnerable stage of solitude, they may well resort to relying on humans for easy food sources. This is a temporary stage. It’s important for us to be patient until these single males have integrated into new troops and once this has occurred they will follow the new group’s lead.
Pubescent primate males dispersing into new troops do not only face a temporary time of physical challenge but also one of psychological challenge; for pubescent males, these necessary lessons bring a physical and psychological strength that is not only needed for the individual but the whole troop in the future. With all the added unnatural risks these males face due to human intervention, they sometimes ironically seek protection in human areas where they have been led to believe they may find it due to humans feeding them by hand. Puberty is a time of exploration and learning for these young males who have yet to grasp the full maturity needed when adult. As sub-adults, they are also more likely to be naïve about the dangers humans present.
These young males, having left the protection and guidance of their birth group are tested for the first time in many ways. Without the protection of the group, they are exposed to predators and other difficult elements of the wilderness. Not only are they at risk from predators but their new troop is likely to be hostile until the individual has formed bonds – this can take a few months.
Sometimes these males are not accepted at all. This is especially true in areas where baboon populations have been severely damaged by human intervention, causing destruction to the fragile social system required for a healthy cohesive group.
Human areas full of abundant unnatural food sources that also have a scarcity of threatening predators are an obvious attraction for wild primates suffering undue risks. But as these primates have a strong understanding of territorial boundaries, it is the mixed messages that humans themselves give that allow these species to assume they are welcome. As the male is left without troop guidance, he may resort to the temptation of new food sources and enter onto human properties where he will at first be respectful of the territorial boundaries but once invited in, will push those boundaries and attempt to raid.
Dispersing males are alone; without grooming partners that contribute to their physical and mental health that generally keep parasite infestation at bay.
Robert Sapolsky – primatologist and neurologist – observed that during this period, the accumulated stress in transient males contributes to parasite infestation as the immune system becomes relatively weak. Once the individual joins a group, his health balances out again.
This once again illustrates how fragile a period this is for dispersing males.
BABOON BEHAVIOUR IN THE CAPE PENINSULA:
In the Cape Peninsula, dispersing male baboons are unable to reach new troops as development has cut them off from doing so. Although the “bad” behavior of these baboons is highly publicized, it needs to be recognized that their behavior does not represent the behavior of baboons in other parts of Southern Africa. Their behavior is a result of being cut off by human development, being forced to compete with humans for resources and being fed by hand. Unfortunately, due to ignorance, the pucli all too often buys the sensationalist view presented by the media and not only exaggerates the negative behavior of the Cape Peninsula baboons but also gives the public the false impression that this behavior is the norm for baboons everywhere.
WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO TO CO-EXIST HARMONIOUSLY WITH BABOONS/MONKEYS?
Residents need to practice consistency in their approach to demonstrate that it is unacceptable for wild primates to enter their properties. It also helps to have baboon/monkey proof homes and to ensure that no attractions – especially garbage – are on display. Please see our information on how to co-exist with wild primates. In special cases, alternative foraging sites can be used if done correctly (see our information on how to do this responsibly.
In time, with the resident’s patience, tolerance and understanding, the transient male will move on into his new group and if he has learnt worthwhile lessons (not to push territorial boundaries) from his human neighbors, he will carry these lessons with him. In this way residents can contribute to the future of healthy monkey and baboon troops.
WHEN MONKEYS/BABOONS ARE RAIDING YOUR PROPERTY:
Vervet monkeys or Chacma baboons might visit your home regularly because you are on their foraging path. They will search for food in your garden and unfortunately, sometimes in your home. Many wild primates are being pressurized by development, and are genuinely hungry because they have lost their natural food source in a short space of time. However, some tend to forage in houses for food,
because the food found there represents the same nutritional value as a whole day’s worth of foraging and offers an easier solution, especially for those faced with excessive survival challenges in the wild.
Many people cannot resist the temptation of feeding wild primates, and in spite of legislation, education and signage, humans still feed which helps when done responsibly and creates problems when done irresponsibly.
It is important for us to acknowledge that there are also people who feed them for the wrong reasons – to lure them for the capture of their babies for the pet trade or to injure or kill them.
It is for this reason that we request that if you feed monkeys or baboons to deter them from raiding your home or to help them obtain food they can no longer get in their damaged natural environment that you do so in a responsible way.
HOW TO FEED RESPONSIBLY:
The photo below shows primates in a sanctuary utilising a home made seed disperser. This method could also be used to keep a single wild male baboon distracted from raiding your home if the following guidelines are used. It is however, better to use an old strong bucket or buoy rather than a road cone.
HOME MADE WILD BABOON DISPERSER MADE FROM OLD BUOY
For the single male raider.
SUPPLEMENTARY FOODS FOR VERVET MONKEYS and CHACMA BABOONS:
The concept of Feeding Stations is a sensitive issue as Nature Conservation authorities are pressed by certain sectors of society to reject this option because of the enormous amount of damage that has been caused to wild primates due to people feeding these animals incorrectly (by hand) until the primates learn to generalise about humans, and assume they can enter human areas and take foods from residents.
Because feeding these animals has caused so much disruption between residents and wild primates, it is illegal to feed baboons/monkeys in some areas in South Africa. However, when feeding stations are established correctly it has been proved to offer a workable solution to the problem of raiding. As far as the legal aspects are concerned, feeding by hand is certainly disruptive and against the law. A feeding station similar to a bird feeder, whereby humans are not associated with the food is no different to displaying an exotic fruit tree in your garden. Residents who feed wild animals in spite of being warned not to, and in spite of the laws that discourage this practice, are encouraged to rather do it according to responsible guidelines.
WHY FEEDING STATIONS?
However much we would like to believe that it is natural behaviour for wild primates to eat natural foods that grow far from human built up areas, the fact remains that we have encroached on their ancient habitats, created habitat loss and ensured a situation whereby we now are forced to co-exist with wild animals in many of the areas we have taken over.
Monkeys and Baboons are highly adaptive and adapt their behaviour to the environment they find themselves in. When a human environment has been forced on them, they simply learn to adapt to it, hence the raiding of human food they find placed along their ancient foraging paths. Our gardens are often full of exotic fruits, vegetable gardens, compost heaps and garbage dumps which not only offer a quick tasty food source but if we don’t protect these food sources and actively show wild animals they have no right to come close right from the very beginning they start to work out a relationship with us, they will assume we are inviting them to help themselves.
WHAT DOES A FEEDING STATION DO?
A feeding station is established in a way that keeps the wild primates away from our homes yet offers these wild animals an alternative food source.
Feeding stations do NOT create a new unnatural food source as is often argued. They replace the unnatural food sources that residents are already providing. (exotic fruit, vegetables compost, good food, bird seeds etc.
PRIMATES AFRICA in KZN is an organisation that has done extensive research – spanning at least a decade – into the establishment of feeding stations in areas where human homes were regularly raided by vervet monkeys.
They found that when done correctly;
– Feeding stations were only utilised by the monkeys at times of the year when their natural food sources were very low and the monkeys went back to feeding in the wild when natural foods were available.
– Populations did not increase due to the supplementary feeding.
– The erection of feeding stations ensured a great decrease in raiding amongst the vervets.
The first golden rule is never to allow the monkeys to associate humans with food. If they do, they will think all humans are friendly and will be in serious danger from hunters and animal abusers. With time, they could expect you to give them food, and when it is not forthcoming, they can demand it from you by jumping up, or even raising eyebrows in a threatening manner. They are very unlikely to attack, but they will frighten people who are not familiar with them, thus endangering their own lives.
Never feed monkeys or baboons by hand. Monkeys are so graceful when they take food from your hand, but, unfortunately, they will also think its OK to take food from little children who are not offering them food. The child could refuse to release the food, thus resulting in a tussle between child and monkey where the monkey might nip the child to force the child to release. Monkeys are at an even greater
risk from abusers if they trust people to the extent that they will take food from their hand.
Correct quantities of food. If you are feeding monkeys and they arrive Every day at about the same time for their food or play around waiting for their food, you are making them dependant on the food you are providing. While waiting, they can annoy neighbours and could become a problem to you or your neighbours if no food is put out. In this case, we suggest that you reduce the quantity of food, gradually, until they come and check but no longer wait. You will find that the correct quantity put out for a troop, will approximate a generous bird
feeder. They will appreciate your offerings, but move on to forage in the natural way.
Please ensure that the feeding site is placed away from your house and the neighbours house. If you feel that they might require more food than you are offering because their habitat is destroyed or there is a drought etc. then encourage other people in your neighbourhood to do the same. The monkeys will soon learn which gardens can be visited and which gardens to avoid and will not ‘camp’ at any particular site. Quantities can be varied at different times of the year, but ensure that any variation is a gradual process
ESTABLISH SECURE FEEDING AREAS.
There are 2 types – artificial feeding sites for short term provisioning and natural feeding sites for long term
Artificial feeding sites. After development of an area, the natural food available to monkeys and baboons can be significantly reduced, causing regular intrusion into houses for food. This problem can be alleviated by the community, by establishing a community feeding station or stations. Feeding stations are also useful for residents living near natural bush who experience problems with monkeys during winter.
A small amount of food can be placed in, preferably, two or three secure sites, away from homes and in natural areas. The reason it is necessary to have a few sites erected for one troop is because wild primates eat according to a strict hierarchy and on feeding station will only allow those at the top to eat, causing the rest of the troop to go hungry. Try to ensure that each site is out of sight of the others so that high ranking individuals do not hog the whole lot.
These sites must be carefully chosen, as they must not be on the boundary of the territories of 2 troops (this causes inter-troop aggression which is more likely amongst the more territorial vervet than the chacma.) and must not be in areas vulnerable to hunters or people who will eat or poison their food.
The food placed at these sites should be similar to the food placed at birdfeeders in gardens. We suggest that there be at least 4 people participating in the provisioning, so as not to make the task onerous and allow for people going away on vacation or relocation. The food provided must be sustainable, economically, so ensure that the food put out is not too expensive.
Donations cannot be relied on. Suggested food: nuts, pumpkin, gem and butternut seeds for protein, brown bread, dried mielies or crushed mielies, sunflower seeds for seed starch and protein, yellow vegetables, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit and peels of vegetables or fruit for vitamins, starch and sugar.
NATURAL FEEDING SITES.
It is possible to encourage monkeys away from houses by planting indigenous feeding trees and exotic fruit trees, such
as paw paw’s, mangos etc. in the correct areas. This is important for the long term well-being of the monkeys. Preferably trees must be planted away from your house or neighbours’ houses and, if possible, form a continuous avenue of trees for the monkeys to move through. Any natural areas in your neighbourhood should be planted up with indigenous feeding trees. These could become nesting and feeding areas for monkeys away from houses
Certain African tribes refuse to kiss because they believe that the mouth is the window to the soul. They fear having their soul stolen.
Others fear having their photos taken and regard a direct stare as a potential theft of the soul.
Then there are the numerous wild primates who consider a direct, long stare by a stranger to be invasive and threatening.
How many of you relate to that?
“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
A DPG monkey named Hope was secretly euthanased in May after being severely neglected – by Tenikwa – according to a Tenikwa employee. Although the DPG had found her and four other unreleasable monkeys a perfect home at the Vervet Monkey Foundation, Tenikwa chose to ignore this option and kill three of the DPG monkeys instead.
In 2005, I was approached by Len and Mandy Freeman to work with the new “awareness center” they were creating. At the time, they were breeding and selling parrots and the wild cats they had sourced remained unsterilized, allegedly for breeding. Due to this fact alone, I declined their generous offer to work there as our ethics were clearly incompatible.
Fast forward to April 2013: Tenikwa agreed to take in the DPG primates after Cape Nature appealed to them. This was the only non-lethal option available as Save The Primates (an Australian organisation that had bought a share of the land that the DPG was operating on) had removed the DPG’s ability to continue protecting the primates in our care. The collaboration between the DPG and Tenikwa was therefore an ambitious one. In spite of this it worked relatively well in its early stages.
At no stage was I employed by Tenikwa but voluntarily spent hours there daily to keep an eye on the primates.
The relationship disintegrated when Tenikwa began liasing with an ex- DPG member by the name of Laureen Bertin who contacted them, posing fraudulently as a DPG board member. Len Freeman passed on the emails sent to him by Save The Primates and Laureen Bertin and any enthusiasm I had for the project swiftly disappeared. (Background info on this can be read here: https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/stalkers-and-cyber-bullies/ )
Tenikwa recently published a letter in the CXPRESS full of distorted information designed to justify their position. Some of the false accusations are as follows:
– The DPG primates were “mostly malnourished” when arriving there. The vet reports tell a different story. Why would Tenikwa make such a statement? The reason behind their intentions are clear: as soon as our primates arrived at Tenikwa they were sterilised ensuring they could not be released back into the wild. To justify this Tenikwa had to falsely
Why would Tenikwa make such a statement? The reason behind their intentions are clear: as soon as our primates (who had been free-roaming in indigenous forest for years proving their ability to survive well as rewilded primates) arrived at Tenikwa they were sterilised ensuring they could not be released back into the wild. To justify these unacceptable actions to the public, Tenikwa had to falsely discredit the DPG’s rehabilitation methods and they have done this repeatedly going as far as to discredit Karin Saks in a long, nonsensical plea addressed to Volunteers in Africa Beware who placed Tenikwa on their list of bad places to volunteer at.
– The DPG primates were “unreleasable”. As mentioned above, our primates had been free roaming in indigenous forest from the start of the rehabilitation and were semi-wild. Tenikwa sterilised all the DPG primates upon arrival, influencing their ability to be rehabilitated back into the wild permanently. Fourteen of the DPG monkeys escaped due to the negligent situation they were forced into. This small troop re-wilded and are proof of the fact that the DPG primates were certainly releasable in spite of the fact that Tenikwa had sterilised them.
i took Christine to the monkey camp today and was shocked to see that Tarzan’s water probably has not been changed for all the time he has been in the intro cage. Has he been fed ? The monkeys are losing condition in there still too. Mandy has repeatedly told me the primates are Tenikwa;s responsibility but I have been seriously worried about the way they are treated for some time now and don’t really know how to handle the situation anymore. Let me know what can be done as its clear that reminding people to check they are correctly treated has not worked.
Tenikwa employees are bound by a confidentiality contract hence the hidden activities that occur there remain hidden.
The video above shows Hope just before she was forcefully removed to live at Tenikwa where her condition deteriorated under their care.
THREE DPG MONKEYS KILLED SECRETLY – MAY 19TH.
Three DPG monkeys named Monki, W.P and Hope were secretly killed by Tenikwa Wildlife Centre in May 2014. Prior to this we had found a perfect home for these and other DPG monkeys at the Vervet Monkey Foundation who had contacted Tenikwa to notify them that they would be willing to take in and protect these vervet monkeys. Tenikwa had let both the Vervet Monkey Foundation and myself know that once the paperwork was sorted out they would get back to the Vervet Monkey Foundation to proceed with plans to acquire permits and transfer the primates to their new home.
While we waited for news about this from Tenikwa, three of these monkeys were killed. Neither the DPG or the VMF were notified of this decision. As far as we know – after speaking to relevant parties – there would have been no problem with Cape Nature issuing permits
Neither the DPG or the VMF were notified of this decision. As far as we know – after speaking to relevant parties – there would have been no problem with Cape Nature issuing permits
As far as we know – after speaking to relevant parties – there would have been no problem with Cape Nature issuing permits
In February 2014, I had been banned from seeing the primates at Tenikwa after questioning the diet the baboons and monkeys were relying on. A few Tenikwa employees had warned me on several occasions that the primates were being “starved” as most of the DPG donated surplus food was being thrown out without being adequately substituted with fresh, nutritious food. According to Tenikwa employees, the DPG food was replaced with “wild” food gathered from the surrounding bush (food that didn’t cost money) and the primates allegedly continued to “starve” as the “wild food” was unable to meet the nutritional requirements of the primates.
This was not the first time I had been concerned with the condition of certain DPG primates; lower ranking individuals had lost fur and muscle since the DPG primates had moved to Tenikwa. Whenever I asked about the diet, I was assured it was adequate and that my concerns would be looked into. The ideal primate diet consists of 15-25% protein, 3-5% fat and 50-70% carbohydrates. Primates in captivity are often lacking relevant nutrients and their diet is crucial to their survival. In the wild a variety of food sources are needed for a vervet monkey troop to prosper – the troop will move as far as is necessary to ensure their dietary needs are met. It was therefore impossible for the DPG primates to get their dietary requirements solely from wild sources collected around Tenikwa.
The first time we heard the devastating news of the three monkeys killed was when an informer approached former volunteer Brad Anthony with the facts relating to the true manner in which the DPG primates had been kept while at Tenikwa. I had not had contact with Mr Anthony since June 2013 when he left the DPG and heard the news via a common acquaintance. Mr Anthony planned to set up a petition, apparently fuelled by Hope who he’d been close to while living at the DPG.
On numerous occasions, I had been warned by Tenikwa staff that any negative information posted on social media would place the primates lives at risk hence I kept this information private. This was not the first time that people had used the primates in my care to blackmail me into silence. Mr Anthony however, publicized the facts his informer had passed on to him. This inevitably resulted in myself taking the blame for his actions, being accused of creating a “global hate campaign” and the primates being used as weapons in a human dispute once again.
Exposing the truth about the unnecessary deaths of these three beloved monkeys who we had supported for many years cannot be fobbed off as a “hate campaign” this time. And this begs the question: what would be the appropriate term for unnecessarily killing three DPG monkeys in secret? Hope was in good condition and enjoyed a perfect existence before going to Tenikwa as can be seen in the video above.
These monkeys deserve to have the truth made known. This is a tribute to their memory. It is written for all those whose lives they touched – our donors, supporters and volunteers.
__________________________________________________________________________________________ABOUT MONKI, W.P. AND HOPE:
In April 2013, the DPG primates were moved to Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre after STP (Save The Primates – Gary Henderson/Sara Tilling) refused the DPG permission to continue its work on the property that was bought for this purpose. Tenikwa is a commercial venture whose animals are required to “pay their way”. Forced to collaborate, we tried as far as possible to make it work for the sake of the primates whose survival and future lay solely with Tenikwa and their staff.
MONKI, W.P AND HOPE
R.I.P MONKI ❤
Monki and Disney
During mid 2009, Margaret and Willem Loggenberg dropped off a two year old female vervet called Monki at the DPG. Monki had been saved from a location where she was tied up by a chain and lovingly nursed back to health by Margaret. When Margaret left, tears streamed down her cheeks as she pleaded with me: please take special care of Monki, she is difficult but is like a daughter to me. Monki was one of many wild primates that Margaret had saved and she and her husband went on to create a primate sanctuary called Wilmar. Sadly this sanctuary was barely born when Margaret suddenly without any warning at all, died from a heart attack.
We went on to care for Monki who at three years old, shocked me with her exceptional capacity for compassion as she helped me nurture seven orphaned infants. On the 16th April, I was alerted by someone who wants to remain anonymous that the primates were to be “shot” the next day by the authorities. It has since transpired that this “rumour” is more likely to have been born by Gary Henderson from STP but it caused mayhem at the DPG nevertheless. That night, myself and five others spent the night in darkness, trapping the monkeys to get them to safety at the new DPG property. Monki was one of the monkeys left to roam freely that night in the house. As I got under the duvet she came over to me, wrapped her arms around my head and hung on. The next day when Cape Nature arrived to trap all the monkeys to move them to Tenikwa, the anxiety expressed by the fragmented troop was palpable.
Margaret and Willem above:
The following reports about Hope are written by myself and two volunteers who were involved in her care – Anna Wood and Lynette Johnson.
JUNE 2014 – ON HOPE by Karin Saks:
Hope arrived in December 2012 in the form of an exceptional vervet monkey. She’d been run over and was lactating but sadly no sign of an infant was found. Paralysed throughout most of her body, unable to even move a finger or toe, we were stunned when she proved against all odds and hope that she was determined to survive and heal.
appealing for attention. Demanding that I listen. Everything about her told us to name her HOPE
Above: In time, Hope proved to be a perfect surrogate mother for orphaned infants:
Careful, full-time care was offered which included hand feeding Hope a few times a day, exercising her limbs and showering her with the social needs she had been stripped of when losing her troop. Over the months Hope came to enjoy what came close to a perfect existence. She befriended not only the wild monkeys in the area but also the wild baboon troop that stopped by regularly. She was able to run and walk and accompanied me on regular patrols through the forest.
On April 16th 2013, after our “partners”, Save The Primates refused the DPG permission to continue its work on the property that had been bought for this reason, the DPG monkeys and baboons were moved by Cape Nature to Tenikwa Wildlife Centre. At Tenikwa, every monkey and baboon was documented with a detailed report being handed over to Cape Nature. For three months the monkeys and baboons lived in enclosures that had once been used for parrot breeding and trading. They were then moved to larger enclosures. During the months – May to February – I visited Tenikwa entirely voluntarily – on a daily basis – mostly to keep an eye on the primates welfare.
Hope was the only primate allowed to stay at the DPG due to her special needs, hence her life continued without interference.
Towards the end of 2013, Save The Primates – as part of their ongoing intimidation strategy to force me off the property – recruited the neighbor farmer as their agent. According to him, Save The Primates had first contacted him in March 2013 after the DPG had refused to sign away their freedom in an agreement unilaterally drawn up by Save The Primates. This appeared to mark the beginning of a campaign designed by STP to destroy the DPG.
In November 2013, the farmer (infamously known to be a long time killer of baboons) arrived to patrol the property in spite of the fact he was illegally trespassing and had been told in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome.
The next day Save The Primates called Cape Nature to report that a monkey had been seen on the property and I was notified that Hope had to go to Tenikwa. She was then placed with Mr No Hands in one of the enclosures once used for parrots. I had no choice but to accept this option but was thankful I at least had the opportunity to ensure she was looked after on a daily basis.
I’d been worrying about the condition of the monkeys and baboons for months – some were losing fur and had become emaciated over time. In February I finally confronted the owners about the nutritional and care needs of the DPG primates. Their instant response was to ban me from the premises, ban our monkey keeper and prevent me from bringing the weekly food.
As a result, I was no longer able to ensure that Hope was well cared for.
During a meeting prior to my leaving Tenikwa, I was asked to help find new homes for all the DPG primates, the supposed reasoning behind this being that they were not contributing to the public image of Tenikwa which is primarily a wild cat centre. The owners told me that while they would try and get help through their zoo contacts, they’d appreciate my appealing to my primate connections as well.
Myself and a number of other primate specialist organisations and individuals searched for a new home. Our four unreleasable vervet monkeys are of most concern due to the special needs required for these individuals.
These four vervet monkeys are Hope, No Hands (wild adult male who lost his fore-arms in a trap), Monki (humanised ex-pet) and WP (humanised ex-pet).
Karin giving Hope physio (left) and Anna Wood hand feeding Hope (right)
After much searching, we welcomed the help of a reputable vervet monkey sanctuary who have offered to take in these vervet monkeys. This sanctuary and myself immediately contacted Tenikwa to notify them that they would be taking the un-releasable vervet monkeys. It was then agreed that Tenikwa would get back to them with the necessary paperwork.
I have since repeatedly asked Tenikwa for an update on how this plan has progressed and received no response. DPG donors and supporters have also contacted Tenikwa to enquire about the welfare of the primates they supported over the years and continue to look out for. The sanctuary who agreed to take in the vervet monkeys are still waiting for a response from Tenikwa.
From Lynette Johnson – HOPE:
“I happened to be at the Darwin Primate Group when a lactating female arrived without her infant after being hit by a vehicle in the Sedgefield area. We found her to be completely paralysed, both her arms were stiff and her hands clenched tightly to her chest. She could not swallow or move her head and just stared ahead. Karin Saks and I took turns monitoring and syringe feeding her round the clock. We made sure she was comfortable, gave her a soft toy to cling to, we sat with her to keep her company, turned her over every hour and we kept her clean, as she had no control over her bodily functions.
Shortly after the female’s arrival, the DPG were lucky enough to have the help of volunteer – Anna Wood – who had twenty years experience with disabled children under her belt and she took over as Hope’s primary caretaker. The daily physio sessions with this volunteer made a huge difference to Hope’s ultimate recovery and much to our delight, it wasn’t long before she began to unclench her right hand which enabled her to grip food and place it in her mouth if it was offered to her. Over time, her left hand also started to function properly, she was able to turn her head, feed herself and for the first time since her arrival, she even began to ‘talk’. She regained the use of her legs and started to move about, awkwardly at first, but gaining momentum with each passing day. We named her Hope, for her recovery was a miracle and a testament to the resilience and fighting spirit of all primates to survive when they’ve been severely injured. She gave us hope for the future of other primates who find themselves in similar circumstances.
While she was a special needs monkey, her recovery was such that she could move without assistance. She was fit and healthy and a happy monkey, she even adopted a little orphan and carried it under her belly as she walked aroundin the Tsitsikamma forest and on the DPG property, with Karin close by to monitor her movements. At no time was Hope ever neglected, ill or thin and alone, she had the company of wild monkeys living freely in the forest and the constant company of a human caretaker. All the primates at the DPG, both monkeys and baboons, were in mint condition at the time they were removed and taken to Tenikwa.
On another visit to the DPG in October 2013, I spent a week working with Karin at Tenikwa and was not happy by what I saw. Some of the baboons seemed stressed and thin, some were suffering from hair loss and two of them were in a small cage at the back, kept separately in what was previously used for parrots.
I was very concerned about their welfare and the lack of information too, specifically because in September last year, one of the DPG baboons died from some sort of toxicity and eight months earlier, another baboon from Cape CROW had also died while being kept in the same enclosure. In March of this year, word filtered through that another one of the baboons had died. I tried unsuccessfully to find out which baboon it was and what the circumstances of his death were. I wanted to know whether it was a DPG baboon, or one of the Cape CROW baboons. Nobody would return my calls, so I posted a message on Tenikwa’s Facebook page under some photo’s of the baboons they’d uploaded some months before that … their only response was to delete not only my message, but the entire post. My fears were not unfounded. Hearing about Hope’s death, along with the other two monkeys who were euthanased, was devastating … why did they suddenly euthanase them?”
Chrisna Fourie and her family and friends had supported a number of the DPG vervet monkeys for years. She wrote to Tenikwa in mid July, then notified me as follows: “Hi Karin
Hope you are well? I just want to let you know that Mandy Freeman did not reply to my mail at all and to be honest, I don’t think she is even going to 😦
If there is any other way we can try to get info, please let me know.”
Anna Wood on HOPE:
I first met Hope in February 2013 when I went to the DPG as a volunteer. At that time she was unable to feed herself, sit up unsupported or walk and needed intensive care.
I have been looking after severely disabled children as my profession for over 20 years so was able to recognise that there was a good chance of her regaining her abilities. We had been advised by an unqualified ‘vet nurse’ that Hope should be euthanized but when faced with Hope’s obvious will to survive we felt it important to give her that chance.
Hope improved on a daily basis and during my time there she began using her hands again and was able to feed herself. She showed great interest in her surroundings and was alert and inquisitive. During Hope’s daily physio sessions it became apparent that she still had considerable strength in her legs and she began pulling herself up and pushing with her legs.
I am by no means an expert on primates but am qualified in my job and was confident in my ability to see improvements in a special needs patient and felt strongly that she should be given the opportunity to progress.
When I returned to the UK Karin kept me regularly informed of Hope’s health and I received photos and videos but nothing could prepare me for what I saw when I went back to the DPG in May 2013.
As I entered the house I saw Hope walking around then breaking into a run. She was fully functioning apart from a slight stiffness to one leg which didn’t seem to impede her at all, in fact to catch her during our forest walks I had to run myself!
Myself, Karin and Brad Anthony took Hope to visit Magdalena at her vet practice and she was pleasantly shocked by Hope’s progress since she had seen her last. She stated that euthanasia was not necessary and that Hope could be an ambassador for disabled monkeys and would be a wonderful surrogate mother for orphaned vervets. During that visit Hope was very alert and trying to run off on the grass! We were all so pleased that Mags had seen how well Hope was.
When I again left the DPG I left confident in the knowledge that Hope had a positive future and would continue to have a good life.
I was worried when I was told that Hope had to go to Tenikwa as I had seen the awful cages that the primates were being kept in and hated to think of her being in one of those. I reassured myself by thinking that it would be temporary until a suitable sanctuary could be found and that Magdalena would be overseeing Hope’s care and I trusted her to do so.
I regularly contacted Jared Harding who repeatedly told me that Hope was ‘fine’ and ‘happy’ and that I shouldn’t worry.
Unable to get proper information due to the Freemans feeling that we shouldn’t be told anything, all we could do was accept what we were told.
At the DPG Hope had access to the forest, interaction with other wild primates, unlimited supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, proper exercise and dedicated carers.
At Tenikwa she had a concrete cell, no exercise and limited food (as stated by some ex-employees).
Is it any wonder that her condition deteriorated?”
R.I.P W.P (GOLIATH)
W.P was brought to the DPG when he was three years old. As an ex-pet he was brought to us because his human family were no longer able to cope with him. Along with Monki and Hope, he was meant to go to a reputable vervet sanctuary but was killed in by Tenikwa instead.
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