OLD AFRICA AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Once upon a time in Africa, people understood that us humans are not above all other animals but equal to them. And so the time has come for us to reflect on the past, present and look deeply to find a solution to the damage we have caused.

Credo Mutwa is an extraordinary South African character; he is a traditional healer, psychic and talented storyteller. His knowledge of old Africa which has been progressively lost throughout past decades remains a crucial key to understanding our true relationship to nature and other animals. In his book, Isilwane the Animal, he describes how African people did not see us humans as separate from nature in the past: we understood that we are not above animals, trees, fishes and birds but equal to them.

Old Africa understood our interconnectedness with all living beings. When the white man

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came to Africa, the continent was teeming with animals which were then mass slaughtered once they erected their farms.

Credo makes the point that many westerners still believe that conservation was imported by colonial powers into Africa and Ian Player confirms in the foreward to the book that those who worked in reserves and protected areas in Zululand know that conservation existed long before the white man arrived.  He describes how African tribes respected nature and our interconnectedness with the Earth by holding wild animals as their totems – a system which served to preserve the environment and showed a clear respect for a healthy biodiversity.

Excerpts from ISILWANE THE ANIMAL BY CREDO MUTWA:

“Through Isilwane the Animal, I hope to open the eyes of the world to traditional African attitudes, folklore and rituals which have governed the relationships between the people of Africa and the animal world.

Today we see the human race running around in circles, like a mad dog chasing its own tail. Today, the same type of confusion prevails in all fields of human thought. There is confusion in the way we view ourselves, there is confusion in the way we view the earth, there is even confusion, believe it or not, at the core of every one of the world’s religions. I can state this with confidence as I have studied most of these religions and even joined some of them.

But why the confusion? It is due to the way we view things: the way we view the atom, stars, life on Earth, and the way we view the Deity Himself or Herself. But the most dangerous and destructive view by far – one which has changed human beings into rampaging, destructive and mindless beasts – is that we compare ourselves with other living things.

Western Man is taught that he is the master of all living things. The bible itself enshrines this extreme attitude, as do other great books. Repeatedly one hears of dangerous phrases such as “untamed nature”, or “interrogating nature with power”. One hears of the strange belief that man is superior to all other living things on Earth and that he was especially created to be overlord and custodian of all things animate and inanimate. Until these attitudes are combated and erased from the human mind, Westernised humans will be a danger to all earthly life, including themselves.”

“When white people came to Africa, they had been conditioned to separate themselves spiritually and physically from wildlife. In the vast herds of animals, they saw four footed enemies to be crushed and objects of fun to be destroyed for pleasure. They slaughtered wild animals by the million. It never occurred to the white pioneers that these animals were protected by the native tribes through whose land they migrated. It never occurred to them, with their muskets, rifles and carbines, that black people worshipped these great herds and regarded them as an integral part of their existence on Earth.”

CONSERVATION AND THE TOTEM SYSTEM:

“In old Africa, every tribe had an animal that it regarded as its totem, an animal after which the tribe had been names by its founders. It was the sacred duty of the tribe to ensure that the animal after which it was named was never harmed within the confines of its territory. In addition, Africans knew that certain wild animals co-exist with others, and that in order to protect the animal after which the tribe was named, it was essential to protect those animals with which the sacred one co-existed. In KwaZulu- Natal for example, there is a tribe, the Dube people, for whom the zebra is a totem. These people not only protect vast herds of zebra in their tribal land, allowing them to roam where they choose, but they also protect herds of wildebeest because they realise that zebras co-exist with wildebeest. …The old Africans knew that to protect the zebra one had to effectively protect the wildebeest, the warthog, the bushpig, the eland, the kudu and other animals sometimes found grazing with zebra in the bush. But the old Africans knew that it was not enough to simply protect those animals which grazed with their totem animal. It was essential to protect those animals which preyed upon their sacred animals.

“There were tribes, such as the Batswana Bakaru and the Bafurutsi, which regarded the Baboon as their totem. They knew that protecting the baboons alone was not enough. The leopard which preyed on the baboon had to be protected, along with the plants upon which the baboon fed. The people knew that if they did not protect the plants, they would starve in the bush and start feeding on the crops in the people’s corn and maize fields. If this occurred, baboons would become man’s enemy.

The Batswana Batloung tribe, whose name means “people of the elephant”, were sworn to protect the elephant. They also protected the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus, which they regarded as the elephant’s cousins. It was believed that an elephant would not injure a person who carried the Bafluong name.”

BIODIVERSITY:

“The African people knew, just as the native American people knew, that if you destroy the environment, you will ultimately destroy the human race. …A remarkable Tswana proverb states that, “He who buries the tree, will next bury the wild animal, and after that, bury his own ox, and ultimately bury his own children.” This saying indicates that people were aware, even in ancient times, of the interdependence on all living creatures upon this Earth, and that if you harm one, you harm others and, in the end yourself.”

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CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:

Farmers vs Wildlife – the Plight of SA Primates

Farmers vs Wildlife and the Plight of SA Primates

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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.

Darwin Primate Group

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The Darwin Primate Group is a registered non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of South African primate species. There are nine provinces in SA with each province being governed by independent laws. Because the DPG is the only official primate rescue centre in the Western Cape in SA, our work is crucial to ensure a healthy future for the indigenous primates in this province.

We work towards a harmonious co-existence between residents and wild primates through distributing educational material, public talks and liasing with the public. An aspect of this involves anti-poaching patrols and educating local children in informal entertaining ways.

Our programs include working towards more protective legislation for wild indigenous primates,the rescue and rehabilitation of monkeys and research into wild baboons and monkey troops to find out the impact of human intervention and behavioural aspects that will contribute to knowledge about the most appropriate rehabilitation processes – habitats, natural food sources, behaviour etc.

 

The Primate Mirror – Seeing Beyond Our Preconceived Human Socialisation

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Love At First Sight

“If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”
― Frederick Buechne

P.S. It is not advisable to ever invite a baboon to sit on your lap as illustrated in the photo of myself with Boffin the baboon. The context behind the photo above relates to myself as rehabilitator; mother to a baby baboon who I was releasing into a wild troop of baboons.

Humans and Wild Animals- Peaceful Co-existence

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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.

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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/

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.