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Cape Peninsula in South Africa, primate populations are not monitored and assumptions are conveniently made using old, outdated data.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

Untitled 6

 

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/

Advertisements

Three DPG Monkeys Killed in Secret at Tenikwa – R.I.P MONKI, HOPE AND W.P.

nohands (2)     OCTOBER 2014:

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.

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.

Below is one of a number of emails where I tried to get the DPG primates helped.
The alpha male – Tarzan – had been moved into an intro cage in the enclosure. I was called away to work with the lawyers for three days and when i returned I discovered the most horrific mess in Tarzan’s water bowl. (Pictured below). The name of the employee has been removed to protect their identity.
TARZAN WATER BOWL INTRO
The next day. he broke out the enclosure and took 13 monkeys with him..Thankfully this group had the chance to escape and have rewilded….

Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2013 01:58:06
To: ………..@tenikwa.co.za>
Reply-To: <primates@tenikwa.co.za>
Subject: Re: No hands

Hi ++++++++,
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.

Thanks, Karin

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

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:

INTRO:

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

monki

MONKI:

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.

In April 2013, Monki was one the unfortunate monkeys that were moved to Tenikwa and killed unnecessarily in June 2014.wilmarbannerwhite

Margaret and Willem above:

1917810_209017116411_2095979_nMonki and baby Disney

__________________________________________________________________________

HOPE

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:

hope3

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.

Never before had I experienced a monkey healing from trauma awaken in the way this determined female did. Her eyes would follow me around the room,WONDERHOPE

hope1

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.

.tenikwasign

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).

2013-02-08 10.15.24annahope2

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 females 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. 

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFor More on the history of this story: https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/stalkers-and-cyber-bullies/

#tenikwakills#pettingzoos##tenikwawildlifeawarenesscentre

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.

Re-directed Aggression – The Primate Way

Image

TAU – THE SURVIVOR:

A young baboon of 3 years old has been confirmed to be shot by a high calibre fire arm after being treated by local vet Magdalena Braum of Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre. The bullet entered from the back of the shoulder, shattered the bone, then entered and exited his opposite hand.

The baboon had managed to keep up with his troop for about ten days in spite of his agonizing, extensive injuries until Thursday morning, the 10th of October when he stayed alone in the forest while his companions left for their daily foraging route.

Around 10 am, the wild baboons arrived at the Darwin Primate Group. My concern magnified as I imagined him dying alone – either slowly or with the aid of a predator –  somewhere in the vast forest that surrounds us.  Thankfully, my cell phone rang as this thought crossed my mind; Sharon Armour who lives on a nearby farm had read about the case online and had noticed the injured baboon outside her home.

Without this fortunate twist of events, he may never have received the help he needed.

I found him weakened –  hidden in thick bush –  when he called for his troop, then sat with him for nearly an hour while we waited for assistance from Jared Harding and Magdalena Braum who kindly took off some time from their demanding work schedule to ensure the juvenile survived.

palmhand

Photo: Jared Harding

Ex-rays showed that  a bullet had penetrated the baboon’s hand, then journeyed in and out of the opposite shoulder, shattering the bone. This is the fourth high profile victim from our wild, resident baboon troop since June 2013

The question that strikes me is; does this point to an act of redirected aggression by a human primate or is it mere “co-incidence”?

Re-directed aggression is practiced commonly amongst indigenous wild primates. Human primates however are reputedly capable of controlling their primal drives as a result of being “civilised” and “humanised”.

DOUG, MATT AND PACINO – MISSING IN ACTION:

Almost a month has passed since I last saw adult male of the wild troop – Pacino – who became well known and loved for his numerous adventures in The Crags, Western Cape. Pacino and Bud had settled into a mutual friendship with Pacino finally accepting Bud’s alpha status after many months of conflict. Although there is a slight chance that Pacino had decided to disperse, the dynamics of this troop had shown no sign of that being an option.(https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/pacino-life-of-a-dispersing-male/)

Pacino had sought out help for various injuries at the Darwin Primate Group on numerous occasions during the years. And because this troop are persecuted by residents in the area, they have come to regard the DPG as a safe haven to visit at times of need.

Some of Pacino‘s injuries that we helped him survive during the last year:

1beae-pacsnarenovPacino with a snare around his neck outside my home. 

847b1-pacino-001

Pacino undergoes a three hour operation after suffering injuries to his arm during a fight with alpha male, Bud.

ae62d-pachomesnarePacino leaves the trap once we return home from the vet.

1044108_609666599053025_1659545364_nPacino lying down at the DPG in obvious pain after his ribs were pierced during a fight with Bud.

998356_615653365121015_1037058337_nPacino recovers for a week at Tenikwa after Dr Braum treats his injuries.

1094506_10201626220958813_1808801371_oBud showing off his weapons

Pacino’s mysterious disappearance – during September 2013 – followed his close friend – Matt’s – alleged death. We were notified by a witness that Matt had been shot while running across a field. He was accompanied by Pacino at the time. Matt’s disappearance occurred soon after  we publicized the brutal killing of his closest friend Doug who had died in an unspeakably cruel manner during June 2013.  Doug had been lured into a chicken cage, stabbed to death with sticks and then eaten according to witness reports.

matt (2)

Photo: Anna Wood

Adorable Matt poses for volunteer, Anna Wood. June, 2013.

Since May 2012, when an article appeared in the Huffington Post after   local police had been approached about the regular gun shots fired by neighbors, the Darwin Primate Group has been the target of anti-baboon residents in the area as can be seen in this blog: https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/farmers-vs-wildlife/

On the 8th October, soon after I arrived home, the wild troop of baboons slowly made their way onto the property..

I quickly scanned the familiar faces to check everyone was okay. Ah-ah-ah-ahah!! An unmistakable anxiety-ridden voice expressing intense physical pain was coming from the bush.  A young juvenile looked straight at me from behind a rotting yellow wood.

I crept closer, anticipating yet another injury.

Uncharacteristically, he lifted himself on to his back legs and moved off –  upright – with one arm swinging in an uncontrolled manner.

I followed until he sat down, he looked at me crying, his eyes pleading. oct8

oct82

Creeping closer, I noticed that one hand appeared to be shattered. The wound on the opposite shoulder was bloodied and hard to see clearly.

Lying down on the ground in a futile attempt to get closer, I called Tenikwa Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre who kindly sent their vet – Dr Magdalena Braum –  to dart the suffering juvenile. But when Dr Braum arrived the baboons, recognising the dart gun, moved off into deep forest.

We followed for some hours, then were forced to accept the young juvenile had no intention of leaving the safety of thick foliage. Hoping he would arrive the next day, and agreeing to be on call, Dr Braum left.

Relieved to see my young friend the following day sitting right outside my home, I lay down a few metres away on the grass and tried to reassure him while he once again expressed the pain he felt. This time I was close enough to recognise him as one of the juvenile males I’d named Tau. Having witnessed quite a few of the individuals in this troop come to us for help through the years, after being injured, it certainly seemed as if Tau was asking the same.houseTau arrives with the troop – 9th October, 2013oct9Tau exhibiting a facial expression and vocalisation I have come to associate with extreme pain.

Using various baboon strategies to convey my loyalty, while deterring other baboons away from us, he slowly began to visibly relax. He even shifted closer then lay  in front of me where I could get a clear view of both the hand and shoulder wounds. 9 octJust as I’d decided to call Magdalena the vet, the troop moved on, slipping one by one into the forest. Hours later, I could still hear their voices in the distance and assumed they would be sleeping close by for the night. I spent that night periodically waking up wondering how he was coping, wondering if he was capable of sitting with his allies in a high tree, if that was where they were sleeping for this night. After all, he no longer had the use of his hands…….himTau – innocent juvenile with his whole life ahead of him before his destiny was permanently altered by a gun toting neighbor.

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.

Communication – The Eye Brow Lift

Image

Communication - The Eye Brow Lift

Depending on the context, the eye brow lift (illustrated here by Alpha males, No Hands and Bud generally represents a relatively mild warning.

In this case, No Hands is warning the photographer not to point a camera at him while Bud is warning a human bystander not to get close to his babies.

The eyebrow lift is commonly used by bold wild primates when asking you to hand the food in your hand over to them.

OBSTACLES TO THE REHABILITATION OF VERVET MONKEYS AND CHACMA BABOONS BACK INTO THE WILD:


OBSTACLES TO THE REHABILITATION OF VERVET MONKEYS AND CHACMA BABOONS BACK INTO THE WILD:– Popular misconceptions about the baboon and monkey that are perpetuated by inadequate and contradictory legislation.- Ambiguous messages conveyed to the public due to loopholes in legislation.
– Policy that does not allow these species to be released  beyond an arbitrary and scientifically flawed limit of 100km radius of  rehabilitation centres in the WC. This pointless limitation makes finding safe, appropriate release sites almost impossible in the Western Cape and impacts adversely on animal welfare.Scientists have argued that one cannot allow a forest monkey to be released into a coastal area for example. This hypothesis discounts the fact that the vervet monkey is one of the most adaptable species – third in line to humans and baboons – is therefore not species-specific and is entirely capable of adapting to a wide range of environments.- Policy that treats provinces as mini-sovereign states, and rigidly prevents these species from being imported and exported between provinces. Taking the small amount of rescue and rehab centres in SA into consideration, this law places great limitations on the rehabilitation of these primates back into the wild.
– An alleged failure on the part of provincial conservation authorities to consider the relevance of  scientific papers that dispute the issue
of genetic pollution.PETS
INADEQUATE LEGAL PROTECTION:
Contradictory Legislation:

In my dealings with members of the public, I have found that the contradictory message conveyed  encourages the public to treat protection of wildlife as nonsensical, resulting in these laws being widely disobeyed.
These  laws therefore directly impact on the large amount of vervet monkeys and baboons being shot, of orphans that result from this practice and of monkeys being illegally kept as pets.

POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS:
Popular prejudice against our wild primates is one of the most influential reasons for the manner in which the public treats them. These misconceptions need to be educated out of our culture, not perpetuated by problem animal control attitudes.
One example of a common misconception – Rabies:
Fears that Vervets are carriers of rabies or other infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans are unfounded. Like us, vervets are primates – if they carried rabies, we would be carriers too. Any mammal is able to contract rabies though.According to Monkey Helpline of EKZN, the state vet reported that no vervet monkey rabies case has ever been recorded.

INADEQUATE SPONSORSHIP OF REPUTABLE REHABILITATION CENTRES:

Considering that conservation policies and public misconceptions directly impact on the
widespread abuse of these primate species, reputable sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres should perhaps be able to expect more support from the government in terms of sponsorship and a willingness to consider more protective legislation that is actively
enforced to ensure the work of these centres has the potential to progress in the best interests of the species and biodiversity.

This is far from the case. To date, we have found that a number of “wildlife centres” or ‘sanctuaries” with commercial agendas are the centres that are most likely to be financially viable and flourish.

In short, conservation policies are encouraging the proliferation of commercially viable ‘wildlife centres’ where the potential for animal exploitation is strong.

This is far from being an ideal situation for the many orphaned and injured animals who need rescue and protection.
THE PRESENT REALITY:
There are over 600 baboons awaiting rehabilitation and over 700 vervet monkeys at the two most established primate sanctuaries in South Africa. The backlog of orphans residing at these centres is an indication of how severe the problem is and indicates:

-the lack of safe, appropriate release sites available, and the failure of conservation services to pro-actively promote and assist with, troop releases.

-The number of wild primates orphaned due to the popular notion that they are “worthless” animals

-The inadequate financial support offered by government.

"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!!!" Rescuer

“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!!!” Rescuer



SOLUTION:
The best answer to this widespread problem would be for conservation authorities to adopt a far more supportive role towards rehab centres, and to take animal welfare far more seriously.  They should also remove onerous policy conditions, and promote uniform and protective legislation that is strongly enforced by them.


This solution would ensure that this species are no longer persecuted, seen to be worthless and less orphans and pets would be the result. The pressure on present rescue and rehabilitation centres would be lessened and full release back into the wild would become far more viable.

  • Karin Saks Darwinprimategroup Remembering this note I wrote a while ago. Considering our present situation and the many facets outlined above that plague most primate rehab/rescue centre in this country, we need to find a way forward in a manner that provides real, workable solutions that is in the best interests of the animals.
     
  • Karin Saks Darwinprimategroup Some of you have asked why our free roaming rescued monkeys were removed by the authorities to be placed in cages (temporarily). The answer is: the fear of genetic pollution – to put it simply, the law does not allow monkeys that come from beyond a 100 km radius to be released here. The fact that those free roaming monkeys probably did come from within a 100 km radius is not accepted due to us being unable to prove their origins (i.e. the person who brought the monkey in to us could have been lying about the monkey’s origins).
     
  • Karin Saks Darwinprimategroup Hopefully the above also explains why primate rescue in South Africa is not merely a conservation issue but is very much an animal welfare issue and should be approached as such.
     

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.

Following the Flight of The Bird:

Two orphaned baby baboons undergoing rehabilitation enjoying their time spent in the wilderness at the gorge: (photo: Lynette Johnson)
The spirit of man is nomad, his blood bedouin, and love is the aboriginal tracker on the faded desert spoor of his lost self; and so I came to live my life not by conscious plan or pre-arranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird.

  

Humanity’s search for self-knowledge has continued as we progress along the new millennium.
We ask questions about how to lead a more meaningful existence. Some of us travel to far away lands, exploring foreign cultures on the road to recovering an inner self.
Others look for life’s answers in the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao-te Ching, the Bible or the Talmud. This search speaks of a universal need, an awakening.

This blog is an unusual one; it describes an internal awakening: I discovered a lost part of the self during my journey into the world of the Chacma Baboon, the Vervet Monkey and the natural environment we share.
The only words that come close to describing this lost part is to name it the “inner primate”.
Following the flight of the bird can be compared to following our inner truth; living life as authentically as possible.
Do you feel that your life is true to who you are – that it expresses your centre, your unique purpose for being on earth?
Or do you feel that your life has been directed by the expectations of others, society, family etc.?
The gorge at the DPG where I commune with the wild troop at full moon:
Full moon on the 5th May rendered the thick forest clear enough to walk through the forest towards the gorge. And once again I came across our resident wild baboon troop, sitting on top of the rock formations at the highest point, one of their regular sleeping places. Upon seeing me arrive on the other side, they started to vocalise in unison – a mob grunting that increased in volume. How could I resist comfort grunting in return?
As we spoke to each other in the night, as if affirming the sacred presence of the other, I was struck by the primal drive deep inside me – a feeling of coming home. A wordless knowing that points to our relationship to other primates, and what we have lost about our human selves in the self induced process of separating from the rest of nature.     
Recalling the first time I observed this inner voice, way back in 1998 while releasing a baby baboon into a wild troop, it struck me how that experience has changed the direction of my life from a path that followed what others expected to one that has over time become in synch with the authentic self.   
  

Above: Karin releasing an orphaned baby into a wild troop.                                                                     

“My mind’s forest had formed new paths, heading towards a profound new worldview. Near a small town called Naboomspruit in 1998 where I’d been introducing my foster baboon infant – Gismo – to a troop of 17 Chacma baboons on a private reserve named Mosdene, something internal had stirred and woken up. Admittedly, it was a personal journey. One that life had blessed me in particular with, but it spoke of much more, offering a unique glimpse into our place within the rest of nature. More importantly, it revealed what we’d lost and how to retrieve it.”

Karin Saks – from the book: Life With Darwin.