The con in conservation – South African legislation.

WESTERN CAPE 2015:

The con in conservation.

During my seventeen years working with wild primates, one nagging concern remained consistent: our nature conservation authorities appeared to be on the wrong side.The 2015 hunting notice allows for baboons/monkeys to be killed  using various methods once again instilling the chilling reminder that they seem to support the self-serving interests of farmers and hunters at the expense of the environment. If our nature conservation authorities are unable to view the environment as a whole but continue to support legislation that allows so-called “problem species” (as defined by certain sectors of society) to be persecuted, we are given little hope for South Africa’s environmental future.

The vervet monkey and chacma baboon are protected and listed under appendix two of C.I.T.E.S  which warns that trade in these species needs to be monitored to ensure they do not become endangered.

Except for the Cape Peninsula in South Africa, primate populations are not monitored and assumptions are conveniently made using old, outdated data.

A COMMON MISCONCEPTION:

A healthy monkey or baboon troop is made up of a fragile, cohesive social system and  is measured by the age/sex ratio of members. Measuring the health of a primate group by relying on numbers – as if they are  autonomous objects – is where most people go wrong. Primates are social animals!

Baboons are not Predators!

“Baboons are not natural predators and thus would not normally attack a human unless threatened in some way. Examples of this would be if a baboon is made to feel trapped (e.g., inside a house with no escape route), if a person tries to take something away from a baboon (e.g., food), or if a person gets between an adult baboon and its infant. A baboon may also feel threatened if you look at it directly in the eyes, as baboons use direct eye contact to threaten one another.” For more info: http://www.imfene.org/misconceptions-about-baboons

oct9 Tau – a young baboon shot by dairy farmer – The Crags.

Wild primates are not commonly regarded as venison:

As the chacma baboon and vervet monkey are not considered to be venison, their presence on the hunting list is highly questionable.

Hunting primates and zoonotic diseases:

Humans, baboons and monkeys all belong to the primate family making the transmission of diseases between them particularly risky.

Baboons share 92% of the same DNA as humans, monkeys share 91% and bonobos share 99%.

The presence of wild primates on the hunting list encourages the consumption of bushmeat and the consequential spreading of zoonotic diseases (Simian Foamy Virus, TB, Ebola etc.)

 There is no “sport value in hunting primates:

Wild primates do not regard human primates as predators and do not fear them the way they would a predator. Instead, they regard as another primate species with whom they sometimes need to compete with for resources. The level of fear they exhibit – or the lack of it – is due to learnt experience as they move through life interacting with either hostile or kind, friendly humans. Their tendency to get close to humans makes them highly vulnerable to being hunted at close range and the total lack of “sport value” makes it akin to canned hunting.

Damage caused to troop structures:

The vervet monkey and chacma baboon are listed on the hunting list based on the assumption that these populations are plentiful; it is widely believed that they are commonly seen and are therefore healthy. This is a misconception for the following reasons:

This view does not take the damage done to troop structures into consideration but regards these highly social species in terms of numbers only, without any regard to the dependence they have on a healthy social system. A healthy primate troop relies on a fragile social system; shooting individuals leads to damaged troop structures which in turn impacts on related systems. Humans have impacted heavily on dysfunctional troops.

Vervet Monkey populations are damaged in the W.C.

Vervet monkey populations are not monitored yet the damage done to these populations is clear to anyone living in the area who has some knowledge about conservation. This makes their inclusion on the hunting list all the more critical.

Vervet Monkey populations between Mossel Bay and Stormsriver are badly damaged. Residents report the disappearance of whole troops. It is no longer common to sight these animals and troops – more often than not – contain too few individuals (often under five). With fewer troops around, dispersing males have further to travel, at great risk, to find new troops to move into.

Baboon troops often exhibit an unhealthy skew in the adult male to female ratio as males are most often targeted by humans.

While undertaking the Knysna elephant research project I was surprised how infrequently vervet monkeys were sighted. Also of concern was the small troop size.

Recommendation. Research urgently needs to be undertaken on the status, distribution and genetic diversity (and degree of relatedness) of vervet monkeys in this portion of this Western Cape.” – Gareth Patterson

 How the Hunting Proclamation influences the public and perpetuates the persecution of wild primates:

The general public looks to our Nature Conservation authorities for guidance. At present, the Hunting Proclamation which allows landowners to kill two monkeys/baboons every day, all year round gives the public the clear message that the lives of primates are cheap, their contribution to biodiversity is irrelevant and persecuting them is acceptable.

 Public perception, misconceptions and South African conservation legislation have dramatically contributed to a number of primate orphans living in South African rehabilitation centres. The same factors have heavily influenced the growing amount of primates being held as pets. Hundreds of orphaned vervet monkeys and baboons currently reside in various rescue and rehabilitation centres in South Africa. These rescue centres receive no support from our conservation authorities and are self-reliant against all odds.

 

Considering these observations, the question remains: why are the vervet monkey and chacma baboon listed on a hunting list? Taking the above into consideration, I can only conclude that Cape Nature continues to support the self-serving interests of farmers and hunters at the expense of a healthy biodiversity.

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The implications of making bow hunting legal:

  • – A licence is not required to own and use a bow and arrow, thus the legal persecution of wild primates is extended to a larger percentage of the South African public.
  • Hunting with a bow and arrow is silent, hence killing wildlife can be easily done in secret – with less accountability for the damage caused to the animal and the species.
  • Hunting with a bow and arrow makes it easier for the amateur hunter to wound and kill no matter how much cruelty is involved without the threat of punishment.
  • It is generally accepted that Cape Nature does not have the capacity to monitor hunting, allowing for the widespread abuse of hunting activities.

“Firearms Control Act (FCA): What further fuelled the bow hunting industry in South Africa was the implementation of our draconian “Firearms Control Act” or FCA. This act made owning a firearm an onerous task and obtaining licences became and remains a task of note. Many avid hunters in South Africa then explored bow hunting and many have become bow hunting enthusiasts. We now have bow shops all over the country, even in the small towns. No licences are required. Although there are minimum specifications for bows and arrows for differing species, the authorities lack the capacity to monitor the local market”. AFRICAN INDABA NOVEMBER 2013, VOLUME 11-5&6

 

As the authorities do not have the capacity to monitor hunting, we can assume that widespread abuse is likely to occur. It is unrealistic for Cape Nature to believe that landowners will act responsibly in the best interests of the environment when it is easier to serve one’s self-serving financial interests based on the misconception that shooting solves the problem of raiding; during the past 350 years the irrational idea that killing problem animals solves the problem of raiding monkeys and baboons has been the guiding rule in wildlife management yet after 350 years we still have the same problems.

  Surely this tells us that killing tactics do not work?1917810_209017116411_2095979_n

 

 Read about our Shocking Failure of Conservation from Chris Mercer of CACH  for more info. 

Links: MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BABOONS –  https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/misconceptions-about-baboons/

Monkey Mayhem

nohandPhoto: Emma Rose

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.seed disperser

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.

DON’TS
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.

DO’S
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
provisioning.

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

Bud Alpha Male – Missing In Action Dec 2013

14 Dec, 2013: I’ve been following the wild baboon troop – not only have six males gone MIA or been shot since June, but I have yet to find all the pink faced infants that were in the troop a month ago. The new male who moved into the troop would had no competitive males to challenge him when killing the infants.. Shooting baboons has never solved the baboon/human problem; when a male baboon is shot, a new one moves into his position, often from outside the troop. Infanticide then occurs.

Link

Paintings by Karin Saks - B.A.F.A.

LINK TO PRESENTATION – CLICK BELOW:

Harmonious Co-existence between Humans and Baboons/Monkeys

We’ve altered their lives drastically by encroaching on their territory. We’ve destroyed habitats and have severely damaged troop structures.

This presentation (click on the link above) is for residents who would like to co-exist peacefully with the baboons and/or monkeys around their homes.My neighboring baboons - BEHAVIOUR and power struggles.

Humans and Wild Animals- Peaceful Co-existence

Video

Before our ancestors arrived, the Khoi-San co-existed with wild animals peacefully. Although much has changed today, the message that we are one species amongst all others, and not one species above all others, is relevant if we want to change the damaging path we are heading down…

Freedom – Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

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Species Persecuted in South AfricaA Glimpse into the Plight of The Persecuted Baboon and Monkey Populations in South Africa

ABOVE – SOME OF THE SPECIES PERSECUTED IN SOUTH AFRICA DUE TO HUMAN/WILDLIFE CONFLICT:

Comments on the Primate Populations in the Western Cape

Karin Saks The following comments are based on my experience as someone who works towards co-existence between residents, the Vervet Monkey and Chacma Baboon in The Crags/Plettenberg Bay/Knysna area. The vervet monkey and chacma baboon are listed on the hunting list based on the assumption that these populations are plentiful; it is widely believed that they are commonly seen and are therefore healthy. This view does not take the damage done to troop structures into consideration but regards these highly social species in terms of numbers only, without any regard to the dependance they have on a healthy social system. Except for the Cape Peninsula, these populations are not monitored and assumptions are made on outdated data. As the chacma baboon and vervet monkey are not considered to be venison, their presence on the hunting list needs to be questioned. My experience with wild baboons has shown that they are not born with a fear of humans but learn this from their elders who have developed a fear through interacting with humans. Humans are not considered to be natural predators to wild primates and because of the fact that we share primate genes, they are prone to getting close to humans when sharing a territory. This makes them highly vulnerable to being hunted at close range and is a factor that illustrates that shooting a baboon or monkey is devoid of any sport that could be beneficial to the hunter. Considering these observations, the question remains: why are the vervet monkey and chacma baboon listed on the hunting proclamation at all? Is this a legal loophole that makes provision to allow the persecution of these species as “problem animals” and if so how does that interfere with their classification as “protected” species under CITES?

“So heart broken this morning – our precious little Lilly, who was so abused by village people died last night. We did everything we could to save her. I really hate those people, may God forgive me for that feeling, but at this stage, I am so angry, so very angry!!!” K. Hickley – caretaker

DOUG: FIVE YR OLD WILD MALE TORTURED TO DEATH IN THE CRAGS – JUNE 2013

It must have happened about a month ago: Doug, a five year old male in the wild troop went missing. Our search led to a tragic conclusion: he'd allegedly been lured into a cage, then stabbed to death with a stick. His corpse was then prepared to be eaten. RIP my beautiful friend......... Photo of Doug by Anna Wood

AFFADAVIT The affidavit above was written by a witness who has spent over thirty years living on the property owned by the farmer. This witness has allegedly seen many baboons killed while growing up on this property. He claims that baboon corpses are allegedly often taken to the local village where the flesh gets consumed and the fur gets used to make carpets. These actions of the farmer set an unethical – and unspeakably cruel  – example for the employees on his property. doug rh 11

ABOVE – DOUG IN 2011

Feb 2013 Doug who was brutally killed by a farm worker in June.

After we trapped a severely injured wild troop member in February, Doug visited daily to check on his close friend while we healed him.

In a wild primate troop a cohesive,social system is necessary to the healthy working of the whole group. When thisfragile system is disrupted, it impacts not only on members within the group but all symbiotic relationships within the environment.

Robert Sapolsky – neurologist and primatologist – who has done extensive research into the effects of stress on baboons in Kenya, claims that; “the blood levels of cortisol (also known as hydrocortisone), one of the hormones most reliably secreted during stress, rose significantly” amongst a troop of baboons, when a new male baboon moved into the troop.  At the same time, “their numbers of white bloodcells, or lymphocytes, the centinel cells of the immune system that defend thebody against infections, declined markedly, another highly reliable index ofstress.” He also found that high levels of stress amongst transfer males hadcompromised their immune systems, leaving them unusually vulnerable toparasites and other diseases.(The Trouble with Testosterone by Robert Sapolsky,p81, 85) We can deduce from these observations that when humans interfere with troop structures by eliminating a male leader for example, this results in a higher turnover of alpha males which in turn leads to turbulent troop relationships and a break down in social dynamics. High levels of stress at a consisent level brought about by humans shooting key individuals that are integral to familial or friendship groups within the framework of a highly complex primate social system, will impact negatively on the group’s ability to function as a healthy cohesive whole. We can also deduce from this that an unhealthy primate troop will impact negatively on all related systems and would therefore not be contributing to a healthy bio-diversity. CARINACarina Cunningham Webber – a vervet monkey sanctuary owner – with a wild vervet troop who were all killed without challenge by a resident in her area. The three areas most commonly targeted that interfere with the natural processes necessary for troop cohesion are:  1. Dispersing male monkeys and baboons are often targeted by residents  

  1. Alpha male, wrongly believed to be the sole decision maker in the troop is shot for acting on behalf of the whole group.

 

  1.  Because of the demand of vervet monkey babies in the pet industry, adult female monkeys are often shot.

Due to the fragile, cohesive social system necessary for healthy troop structures, the above practices not only cause disruption to thegroup but also have a permanent effect on future generations. Vervet Monkey populations between Mossel Bay and Stormsriver appear to be damaged. Residents report the disappearance of whole troops. It is no longer common to sight these animals and troops – more oftenthan not – contain too few individuals (often under five). With fewer troopsaround, dispersing males have further to travel, at great risk, to find newtroops to move into. Baboon troops often exhibit an unhealthy skew in the adult male to female ratio as males are most often targeted by humans.

MATT: SHOT – AUGUST 2013

Following the wild baboon troop with Matt...

Above: Karin following the resident wild troop with Matt in the foreground. Matt was allegedly shot towards the end of August 2013 by a Crags resident.

mattrh

MATT ABOVE IN 2011
GarethPatterson – “Some field observations on Vervet monkey status and distribution within thestudy area of the Knysna elephant research project 2001 – 2009. Area of Observations.The approximate range of Knysna elephants is an 620 square kilometre area comprising of Afromontane forest, mountain fynbos, forest edge and commercial plantations. Observations were undertaken mostly on foot while gathering elephant diet and DNA samples, and while gathering data on the range of the elephants. Duration May 2001 to September 2009. Vervet monkeys were seen infrequently during the entire study period,despite thousand’s of kilometres undertaken on foot during the above timeframe. Afromontane forest.Vervet monkeys were very rarely seen within the forests itself.When occasionally seen, comprise of small troops of approximately 7- 10 individuals. Occasionally transient males would be seen from time to time on the Knysna -Uniondale road south of Diepwalle. Mountain fynbos.Vervet monkeys very rarely seen in mountain fynbos. Forest edge.Vervet troops were seen mostly in forest edge areas, particulary in areas where streams occur. Sightings were not frequent though. Troop size on average would approximately 7 – 10. Commercial plantations.Vervet troops were very rarely seen in these areas. During deployment of remote camera’s 2007 – 2009 bushbuck and bushpig were fairly frequently photographed. Honey-badger have been photographed occasionally.Caracal have been photographed twice so far this year.During 2007 – 2009 only once have vervet monkey been photographed,one individual, a transient male (September 2009). This occurred close to the forest edge. While undertaking the Knysna elephant research project I was surprised how infrequently vervet monkeys were sighted. Also of concern was the small troop size. Recommendation. Research urgently needs to be undertaken on the status, distribution and genetic diversity (and degree of relatedness) of vervet monkeys in this portion of the Western Cape.”
DIDI – ORPHANED VERVET MONKEY KILLED BY A RESIDENT IN THE CRAGS – 2012
Didi was orphaned in 2007 when a resident killed his mother near Knysna.

Didi was orphaned in 2007 when a resident killed his mother near Knysna.

Didi – Darwin Primate Group Monkey Shot by Crags Resident – Nov 2012:
“One day, hopefully in the near future, I will tell you the whole story about this particular blog post. Right now, my hands are tied, my voice silenced and the threats continue.11th November - RIP Didi...
 Above: hand written affidavit by a man who worked for Didi”s killer (A Jehovah’s witness who Karin has never met or interacted with in person. Prior to Didi’s death, a DPG volunteer had visited the killer’s family to let them know that Didi might visit their property, and the volunteer asked the family to contact the DPG if and when this occurred. When Didi arrived on the killer’s property, he was shot with a pellet gun without hesitation and died a slow, tortuous death according to the witness. The witnesses name has been blacked out to protect his identity as his job is at risk. The killer also threatened to sue us if we made the truth public.
All I can say is that someone shot my very first orphan baby, vervet monkey on the 11th of November, and I am unable to speak out right now because of their threats. The killer – a “religious” man who lives in the same road –  did it intentionally, knowing I’d spent days searching for Didi. Having the choice to call me to get him back to his territory, knowing I was searching for him, they chose instead to kill.”
To read the history behind Karin’s challenges with Crags residents:  https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/farmers-vs-wildlife-the-crags/
The Integral Role of the Transient Male in Monkey and Baboon Troops: As mentioned before, these males transfer into new groups to ensure genetic mixing while the females stay in their birth troops for life,ensuring a strong female bonded social core. a) The myth of the Rogue Male: Often it is single males that get shot by residents. With every case that I have been called on to investigate in this area, the single male baboon or monkey that has been “raiding’ human foods, has proved to be a dispersing male – usually at the age of puberty and leaving the troop for the very first time – making his way into a new troop. These males are most  to be “old rogue males kicked out of the troop”. In fact, it is rare to see an old male baboon or monkey in this area for few reach old age anymore. Male vervet monkeys and baboons move from their birth troops (about five times in their lifetimes) into new troops. When these malesare shot as is often the case, this necessary natural process is prevented withthe consequences being long term negative effects on the fragile social system needed for a healthy primate troop. In turn, this negatively affects other systems that they have a symbiotic relationship with; including their relationship to humans and the territory we often share. b) The Perspective of the Transient Male: Our biggest mistake in 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. Pubescent primate males dispersing into new troops do notonly 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 theindividual but the whole troop in the future. 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 predatorsbut their new troop is likely to be hostile until the individual has formedbonds – this can take a few months. Sometimes these males are not accepted at all. With all the added unnatural risks these males face due to human intervention, they sometimesironically seek protection in human areas where they have been led to believe they may find it due to humans feeding them by hand. If you consider the monkey troops that have apparentlybeen wiped out in The Crags area (as residents views suggest), this means that dispersing male monkeys are forced to wander abnormally far distances to find another troop, hence risks are increased. These males therefore find themselves trying to survive in unknown territories with strange predators and the challenge of finding new food sources that they had previously relied on the troop to help them with. Sometimes, when life gets this tough for the male that has been forced to wander unnaturally long distances, he will seek protectionin human areas, deluded by that fact that humans are friendly when they invitethese animals in by feeding them. 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. In the CapePeninsula, dispersing male baboons are unable to reach new troops as development has cut them off from doing so. 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 isfor dispersing males. As the male is left without troop guidance, he may resort to the temptation of new food sources and enter onto human properties where hewill at first be respectful of the territorial boundaries but once invited in,will push those boundaries and attempt to raid. Puberty is a time ofexploration and learning for these young males who have yet to grasp the fullmaturity needed when adult. As sub-adults, they are also more likely to benaïve about the dangers, humans present. Residents need to practice consistency in their approachto demonstrate that it is unacceptable for wild primates to enter theirproperties. It also helps to have baboon/monkey proof homes and to ensure thatno attractions – especially garbage – are on display. In time, with the resident’s patience, tolerance andunderstanding, the transient male will move on into his new group and if he haslearnt worthwhile lessons (not to push territorial boundaries) from his humanneighbors, he will carry these lessons with him. In this way residents cancontribute to the future of healthy monkey and baboon troops. At present, however, the Hunting Proclamation which allows landowners to shoot two monkeys/baboons a day all year round actively encourages the persecution of these species and therefore contributes to misconceptions and the continuous destruction of troop structures that negatively affects bio-diversity. THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION GIVES A CLEAR MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT HOW TO TREAT THESE ANIMALS.  The HuntingProclamation gives residents the message that persecuting the Vervet monkey andChacma baboon is not only acceptable but encouraged by the authorities, henceshowing a disregard for the role these species play within the environment.  Shootingthe Alpha Male to deter the troop from Raiding:  Shooting the alpha male does not deter the troop from raiding as has been proved many times in the past. Instead, a new male is likely to move into the troop, kill all the infants and spend many monthsworking out new relationships that bring turbulence and social disruption. When these alpha males are repeatedly killed and replaced, this process occurs moreoften than is natural and has far reaching traumatic consequences for membersin the group. New males that move in from outside the troop do not necessarilybring new lessons but may well follow the lead of the troop, hence the groupwill continue to raid. The most influential males in a troop do not makedecisions on behalf of the whole troop alone, but act according to the will of troop members. With so many male baboons being targeted the result is an unhealthy skew in the adult male to female ratio which in turn causes socialbehaviour changes. Bad WasteManagement is One of the Main Reasons Wildlife is Attracted to Human Areas: TheTargeting of Adult Female Monkeys: Because the Hunting Proclamation actively allows thepersecution of baboons and monkeys, the message given to people is that thesespecies do not matter. As a result widespread abuse occurs. It is difficult to monitor the growing demand for vervet monkey baby pets for example. During the birth season which occurs just before Christmas, copious amounts of adult female monkeys are shot so that their babies can be taken and sold. The Vervet is a female bonded species based on anumber of matrilines. Females stay in their troop for the duration of theirlives; it is the females who have the most knowledge about food sources andpredators within the territory. This information is passed on from onegeneration to the next. These individuals are therefore integral to the knowledge and social health of the troop. Again, shooting individuals in a monkey troop causes dysfunctional social systems that impact on the troop members and future generations. The above examples illustrate to some small extent how the Hunting Proclamation actively destroys wild primate social structures and contributes to a decline in numbers.  Hundredsof Baboons and Monkeys are held in Rehabilitation Centres without Safe Habitats to Release them into: Thereare a number of vervet monkey rescue centres in KZN; Although these centres see a fraction of the amount of monkeys that require rescue, an average month reveals that up to seventy monkeys will die at the most prolific monkey rescue centre in KZN.  The amount of monkeys and baboons injured and killed by humans cannot be underestimated. These primates are certainly the victims of legislation that actively encourages thepersecution of these species and perpetuates the myths about them.  It takes quite a few years to rehabilitate these troops – the biggest problem once rehabilitated, is that there are too few safe habitats to release them into.   Protective legislation that is actively and strongly enforced would bring a solution to this problem.  Widespread Abuse of The Hunting Proclamation: Experience has shown me that the Hunting Proclamation isbeing abused in a number of ways: many landowners tend to turn a blind eye whentheir workers, firstly lure onto the property, then snare or shoot, wild species. In an area wracked by poverty, workers lure wild animals by intentionallyleaving food sources around, whether it be open garbage bins, compost heaps, horse food or other food. This works in the landowner’s best economical interests when the property is a cattle farm or polo field for example. Workers have shown that they lure and kill bushbuck, bushpigs, baboons and monkeys to eat in this area. It is unrealistic to expect that landowners will act responsibly in the best interests of the environment when it is easier to kill and  support personal financial interests. It is equally irresponsible to assume that residents are in a position to make informed decisions about what constitutes a“problem animal” when this perception is usually distorted by unnecessary fear,ignorance of wild primate behaviour and misconceptions supported by legislationsuch as the Hunting Proclamation.  These cases need physical investigation and should be done by those who have the environment/bio-diversity’s best interests at heart.  Listingthe Vervet Monkey and Chacma Baboon on a Hunting List: Neither of these primate species can be considered for sport/recreational hunting as their close proximity to humans makes shootingthem akin to canned hunting. Furthermore, asthese wild primates are not generally considered edible and are geneticallyclose to us, it is entirely nonsensical that they be listed on a hunting list. Taking these factors into account, it becomes quite clearthat the vervet monkey and chacma baboon are listed on a hunting list, andallowed to be killed at two a day, all year round, because it is desired that they be eradicated. In this light their so called “protected” status under theNature Conservation Ordinance, Ordinance 19 of 1974 is redundant. In practice, I have witnessed that the vervet monkey and chacma baboon are offered little – if any –  protection and that the Hunting Proclamation is allowed to be abused and used to the detriment of our wild primate populations.  

https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/feb-2013-doug/

Farmers vs Wildlife – The Crags

The Crags is an agricultural area bordering the Tsitsikamma National Park. There are no fences preventing wildlife from wandering on to agricultural land where they are vulnerable to dying tortuous deaths in poachers traps, being shot by local farmers and residents or being electrocuted on pylons.Wild primates are attracted by compost heaps, garbage, vegetable gardens, farmer’s crops, bird feeders and horse/cow feed amongst other attractions and The Crags has an abundance of these attractions displayed by crop farmers, polo field owners and dairy farmers.

The Huffington Post article below gives some background to why the farmers in this area have attempted to shut down my work here with one of their tactics being to spread misinformation about our activities.Some of the questions that have been raised are:1. Do rescued baboons/monkeys attract wild troops into the area?A: There is NO scientific evidence suggesting this. Logically, it makes sense that IF there were females in oestrus in the rescue troop, and no sexually mature male, there may an argument for this. However, I have six rescued juvenile baboons in my care. Those juveniles never wandered off the property because of their age (no adults). Furthermore none are sexually mature and there is no rational argument for assuming they would attract wild baboons.

2. Have I ever released rehabilitated baboons into The Crags?

A: No, I have never released any rescued baboon into this area and neither has it been my intention. To invest so much energy and financial input into rehabilitating a primate, only to release that primate into a farming area where these species are persecuted is a waste of time in my opinion.

3. Do I feed the wild baboons here?

A: No. My main activity has been to rescue and rehabilitate vervet monkeys which were free roaming here hence interacting with all the elements of the wild, including baboons, caracal, honey badgers and other species.  It is natural for vervets and baboons to compete for resources and therefore if I had ever fed the wild baboons, I would have placed the vervets at risk. Neither do I advocate feeding wild baboons.

 dontfeed

ABOVE: ENTRANCE TO THE DARWIN PRIMATE GROUP – THE CRAGS 2012

The DPG works to educate residents on how to co-exist with wildlife. This includes not feeding baboons, monkeys and other wildlife by hand, removing/hiding all attractions from properties where owners are unwilling to co-exist with wildlife harmoniously and adapting human buildings to ensure they are safe from any potential damage caused by wild primates.

 Baboon Woman: Story of a Gentle Power House
By Maggie Sergio for The Huffington Post
May 2012
I heard gunfire as my friend and I walked past a farm on a dirt road about 300 yards from her home.  It was a sunny Tuesday morning on March 26thof this year.  We had ventured out for an early morning walk with her three dogs.  The last thing I expected was to hear gunshots and to witness an assault on wildlife.  Or worse, was this angry farmer looking to send a message to my new friend Karin Saks, aka “Baboon Woman?”
It started as a beautiful morning in the Western Cape of South Africa, in a small town along the Garden Route called “The Crags.”  For those who aren’t familiar with South Africa, The Crags is a stunningly beautiful town, anda popular tourist destination.   The region is surrounded by the Tskitskamma National Park and is home to about a dozen or so small farms, a backpacker’s camp called “Rocky Road,” many charming B n’ B’s,  holiday houses and the Darwin Primate Group (DPG).  The Darwin Primate Group is focused on rehabilitation of orphaned and injured baboons and vervet monkeys.  DPG was founded by a courageous woman named Karin Saks who has been fostering these primates since 1997. Born in South Africa, Karin is a woman who has dedicated her life to the conservation of primates and has successfully rehabilitated and released 35 monkeys and is currently caring for 6 orphan baby baboons.
Karin was featured in the 2009 documentary, “Baboon Woman” and was the subject of the book, “Life with Darwin” written by Fransje Van Riel. The baby primates Karin rehabilitates became orphans due to conflicts with humans; these conflicts are most often a result of a farmer suffering crop damage.   As with other animals that are labeled as “pests” or “nuisance wildlife,” baboons are often shot, snared or poisoned by farmers.   Because snares, poisons and steel leg hold traps do not discriminate, other wildlife and pets are often killed in the process.
My fifth trip to South Africa included delivering a donation check to the Darwin Primate Group from the US based nonprofit, Nikela. Nikela is an emerging wildlife organization that supports a select number of wildlife conservation projects in South Africa.   Knowing that access to US donors is a major hurdle for many conservation projects in South Africa, I have watched with interest and followed their progress and the projects they have supported over the last few years.
Karin Saks’ Darwin Primate Group is one of the first projects that Nikela qualified and took on as a supported project.   Earlier this year, I contacted Nikela, told them of my upcoming trip and asked if there was anything I could do to help while in South Africa.  I was told there was a small donation check for Karin that needed delivery. I agreed to carry and present the check to Karin, plus have some photos taken of the event.
Thrilled to be carrying out such a fun request, I decided to make things interesting by seeing if I could double the amount of the original donation from $1500 to $3000.  In about a month’s time, using the ubiquitous tools of social networking, combined with personal appeals to friends and family, Nikela and I achieved our goal of doubling the donation check I would be delivering to Karin.
I also decided to volunteer at DPG to learn more about the incredible work that Karin does.  In getting to know Karin I discovered a very centered and gentle powerhouse.   Baboons are the most persecuted species in South Africa and Karin is not popular with her neighbors because she cares for these injured and orphaned animals considered to be pests.  The laws are conflicting regarding their protection and it is perfectly acceptable to shoot baboons.   While the local police will say it is not.  I found in Karin, a woman that crossed the species barrier in her knowledge of primates and in her ability to communicate with them.  Prior to returning an orphaned baby back to the wild, Karin must first be accepted as a member of a wild baboon troop before she can introduce a youngster to the group.  Karin has been spent years observing and understanding the body language and behavior of baboons.   As a result of her work she has become an expert in how to solve conflicts non-lethally and coexist.
In a former role, I served as the Director of Advocacy and Wildlife Solutions for WildCare in San Rafael, CA.  For three years my work was focused on solving human-wildlife conflicts, and educating the public about how to resolve those problems non-lethally, and for the long term. Witnessing Karin’s work I observed how similar the challenges are for wildlife around the world.   Karin cares for baby primates because their parents are often killed by farmers whose properties often border on wildlife areas.
Along the Garden Route it is the Tskikamma National Park. Animals are always in search of food, whether the source is natural or the result of human agriculture.  Food sources for wildlife can be either livestock or crops.  If food sources are left unprotected, conflicts will ensue.  When animals opportunistically take advantage of the easy meals provided by agriculture, they are often shot, poisoned or snared in an attempt to control the damage.  However, these methods are retaliatory and work only for the short term.  As soon as an animal is removed from a territory, whether by death or relocation, a space is opened up for another animal to fill, as long as the original source or attractant is still readily available.   If a mother is killed orphan babies are left behind to starve or be preyed on by other animals.
The common denominator of these wildlife conflicts globally is that humans are providing easy access to a food source when we don’t take adequate measures to protect our crops or livestock.  What varies is the species of wildlife that is killed.   In South Africa it is considered perfectly acceptable for a farmer to shoot baboons, vervet monkeys, jackal, and other species.  Here in the US, persecuted species include wolves, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, mountain lions, and thousands of songbirds killed by agriculture every year. Most of the killing in the US is either endorsed, or perpetrated, by our own government, for the benefit of private landowners.  Thisexplosive three part story in the Sacramento Bee is the result of an investigation by journalist Tom Knudson of USDA Wildlife Services.  In South Africa, many farmers simply take matters into their own hands. In all these scenarios, the victims are the animals who know no borders and move easily between wild areas and cultivated areas.
Circling back to gunshots I heard earlier. My month long visit to the Garden Route was drawing to a close, and as we walked along the dirt road that leads to Karin’s home and the primate rehab center she founded, I noticed a man about a hundred yards away waving something that could have been a stick or a golf club.  From a distance it was hard to tell. Seconds later, both Karin and I noticed a wild baboon easily hoping over the small, makeshift fence that surrounds this farmer’s property.   The debilitated fence was about 2 feet in height and we both immediately became concerned for the safety of this animal.
Immediately after the shots were fired; we heard hysterical screams and cries from the baboons and watched as several of them fled over the fence in terror.  The only crime that these animals committed was foraging for food.  The food source that attracted the baboons was made easily available to them by humans and placed out in the open.  This farmer had planted a crop of tomatoes and avocadoes and took no measures to protect his crops from wildlife, despite the fact that his farm is surrounded by wilderness.  Rather than investing in adequate fencing, this farmer, like most deals with the problem by shooting the offending animals.
Being in such close proximity to gunfire was unsettling.  I was in a popular tourist area with a backpacker’s facility just down the road, and here we were out for a morning stroll, on a country road, with a couple of dogs.   Because of her work caring for baboons it is rumored that the local farmers “have meetings about Karin.” I couldn’t help but wonder if the gunshots fired that morning as we passed were meant to send a message or not.   Regardless of the intent, Karin’s courage and commitment is unwavering as she works day to day caring for the orphans and victims of agriculture and human encroachment.  She has just been notified that the 17 hectare property that she has been leasing for the last 7 years is now up for sale.  An international effort is now underway to assist DPG to either purchase this land or another suitable location that has just become available in the area.