Troublemaker of the wild...
A little while ago, while camping on the South Coast, we saw a retired camper allowing his grand-daughter to hand feed the vervet monkeys with bread. When we approached him to ask him to please stop allowing the child (she was only three or four years old) to feed the monkeys, he actually became verbally abusive and told us to mind our own business. We tried to explain to him the dangers of feeding monkeys in the caravan park, but to no avail. He simply continued giving the child bread to feed the monkeys!
It is extremely dangerous to feed monkeys that are in their wild habitat. Not only is there the risk of you been attacked, but you are encouraging the monkeys to re-visit the area in search of “easy pickings” and they will start to enter the caravans and tents in search of food. This will naturally start a chain reaction between camper and monkey. The monkey will expect food, and the camper will now start to chase the monkey away with potentially dangerous and sometimes disastrous results.
Feeding monkeys in resorts also places a huge life threatening risk to these monkeys, and now, because of feeding; they are now a danger to both themselves as well as the campers. By feeding them, you are actually signing their death warrant! (Let alone endangering your children and yourselves.)
Here is how to deal with an “unwanted” Vervet Monkey presence.
• If you can, use yours or the parks hosepipe to squirt them. You can reach them in the trees and at a distance when they are on the ground. They hate being hosed and will run away. Squirt – don’t spray!
• A water pistol or squirt bottle aimed and squirted at the monkeys inside or close to your site is very effective.
• Vervet monkeys are easily shooed away simply by walking towards them and waving a small towel, dishcloth or other similar item. Don’t be intimidated if they stand their ground and threaten you. They will turn tail and flee as you get closer!
• A piece of hose, with holes in it, swung around whilst advancing towards Vervet monkeys will also frighten them away.
• Monkeys are naturally wary of snakes, so realistic rubber snakes placed around your caravan or campsite can discourage them. Don’t leave a rubber snake in the same spot too long otherwise the Vervet monkey will get used to its immobility and ignore it. Attach a length of thin nylon or string to the snake and tug it into “motion” when the Vervet monkeys are close to it.
• Pointing a gun-like object at them will usually send them scurrying away.
• Vervet monkeys usually fear men more than they do women so, if possible, the Vervet monkeys should be chased away by men.
• Vervet monkeys have very keen senses of taste and smell. They can be discouraged from eating fruit and vegetables by spraying or brushing these with a liquid containing quinine, chilli, insect or pet repellent or any other distasteful but non-lethal substance that can be washed off. Dry curry or chilli powder works very well.
NB. Pellet guns and catapults are a scourge, and pellet guns are illegal to use on monkeys! (And in built up areas.) Vervet monkeys shot with pellets rarely die instantly. Instead the pellets cause injuries that result in a slow and agonizing death over days and weeks. Stones, steel or lead balls, marbles, etc., shot at monkeys with a catapult cause severe and life threatening injuries such as smashed eyes and broken bones. If you wish to use your catapult, use cubed raw potato as the projectile instead. Shooting at monkeys with paintball guns can result in serious and even lethal injuries and it is illegal, unnecessary and very cruel – DON’T DO IT!!!
The latest trend is by using star gazing/watching green Laser Pointers, by pointing the green laser beam at the monkey. Two things here: the validity of pointing a laser beam at the monkey has not yet been effectively verified. Laser pointers over 5mW require licensing as they can be dangerous in the hands of careless or incompetent persons.
Green laser pointers come in a variety of different output powers, and are used by astronomers to easily point out stars and constellations in observatories and the heavens. Since laser pointers became readily available, they have been misused, as the very bright, small spot makes it possible to dazzle and distract drivers and aircraft pilots, and they can be dangerous to sight if aimed at the eyes. There have been 170 laser incidents in South Africa to date in 2012, according to the director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
Stop feeding the monkeys and please don't allow anyone in your family to do so. Try explaining what the problems of feeding vervet monkeys can cause, especially to other campers. The attraction of food, be this in a rubbish bin, on your camp table or even visible in the tent will ultimately attract vervet monkeys to your site if a troop is resident in the area. Keep all food well packed away and out of sight if vervet monkeys are suspected in the camp.
Please remember that the vervet monkey species is a protected species as laid out in the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) Act 10 of 2004 Section 56(1) Schedule B2:
Quote: "As "flagship species" and our closest living relatives, nonhuman primates are important to the health of their surrounding ecosystems. Through the dispersal of seeds and other interactions with their environments, primates help support a wide range of plant and animal life that makes up the Earth's forests." - IUCN - Primates in peril.