Living With Vervet Monkeys - Loss of Habitat


Living Harmoniously With Vervet Monkeys

In some parts of South Africa, Vervet monkeys have been forced to compete with humans for resources after having their habitat destroyed by human development. On the surface, it may appear that the Vervet monkeys are being deviant but all too often they are genuinely hungry. Human properties have replaced their ancient foraging routes; your home may be on one of these routes.

When monkeys have no choice but to appeal to humans for food:
While there are many educational initiatives advising the public not to feed monkeys, this approach hasn’t worked effectively, especially in areas where monkeys have no choice but to obtain food from urban environments. In cases where monkeys have no option but to seek food from human properties, denying them this option ensures they will look for food on someone else's property - this does not offer a viable solution.  If we accept that compassionate people are likely to feed hungry monkeys in areas where the monkeys have lost their natural food source, then constructive advice on how to feed monkeys is necessary.
 The Hierarchy Connection:
The Vervet troop in your area has worked out a hierarchical relationship with others sharing their territory. This includes human families and the domestic animals connected to them. Vervet monkeys eat according to their hierarchy with the top ranking members having first access to food. Those lower down the hierarchy are allowed to eat only when the top of the hierarchy have had their fill. Vervets do not give their food to others. Vervet mothers do not even share food with their babies. From the monkeys’ point of view, these principles apply to humans which is why it is a problem to feed them by hand.

Never feed a monkey by hand:
The monkeys around our homes are working out a relationship with us.  When a human hands food to a monkey, it may be interpreted as a giving over of power thus giving the message to the monkey that you are taking a submissive position. Giving away your power when feeding a wild primate is the main reason why feeding becomes a problem as the human/monkey relationship progresses. It is due to feeding by hand that certain monkeys are prone to becoming more and more daring and intimidating when approaching humans for food. This behaviour instills fear in people and the consequences tend to result in the monkeys being harmed.
Accepting responsibility for the problem we have created:
 As we are responsible for destroying the natural habitat of monkeys (and other wildlife), it follows that we are responsible for correcting this imbalance which has caused such harm. To protect the wild animals who share our territory, we need to practice tolerance and patience. We need to adapt our lifestyles to live harmoniously with the wildlife whose habitat we have destroyed.

Feeding Stations:
For those residents who choose to co-exist harmoniously by setting up a feeding station we offer the following guidelines:

1. Don’t feed monkeys by hand. This behaviour may show the monkeys you are lower in the hierarchy which encourages them to act demanding and threatening.

2. When you set up a feeding station, do it when the monkeys are not around to see. This ensures that the feeding station will not be associated with humans but will offer the monkeys a food source that they can survive on.

3. A feeding station requires that you place portions of food in at least three different places – preferably out of sight of each other so that the various groups within the troop are fed. One feeding station encourages the top members of the hierarchy to eat while the
others wait and this is likely to cause those lower on the hierarchy to visit your neighbors to check for food there.

4. If you find that the monkeys are visiting at the same time every day and waiting for food, it means they have come to depend on you for that food source. If this is the case, try to limit the food you are putting out so that they eat what is needed but are encouraged to continue on their foraging route to find food elsewhere too. If you feel that the monkeys are visiting because of a drought or because they have no natural habitat to survive in, encourage your neighbors to put out feeding stations as well.
5. Residents who choose to feed monkeys need to be consistent. If you go away, please ensure that someone is there to feed the monkeys in your place.

Your relationship with the monkeys:

It is beneficial to be consistent in your behaviour when the monkeys visit your home. To keep your "power" so that the monkeys do not enter your home, steal food off your table or threaten your pets, use a water bottle to spray at them when they advance or shout and bang on a pot. Remember that the more hungry the monkeys are, the more likely they are to try different methods for getting food. A communal feeding station is a potential solution for both residents and Vervet monkeys.    

Our Relationship With Nature.

My time spent with both orphaned baboons and wild baboon troops brought a clear message about our self-imposed separation from the nature. This message reminded me constantly to see past our pre-conceived notions about species non-human. This lens is necessary if we are to understand wild animals. Letting go of our human based notions about animals also inevitably brings into focus a lost part of the human self.  

VOLUNTEER AT DREAMSKILLS




VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AT DREAMSKILLS

www.dreamskillsafrica.wordpress.com
 dreamskills1@live.com

THE LINK BETWEEN HUMAN AND ANIMAL ABUSE - WORKING TOWARDS A NON-VIOLENT SOCIETY

DREAMSKILLS is a project created by Karin Saks (Darwin Primate Group CEO) and Terence Olivier (Rainbow Warriors SA CEO).

As a volunteer working with us you will first be trained as a mentor who will go on to conduct workshops with students from disadvantaged communities in our area.
Each volunteer donation goes towards sponsoring two students per week.

It has been identified that there is a critical need to confront the growing social problems around domestic animal and wildlife abuse in Southern Africa. The link between animal and human abuse which perpetuates a violent society, makes this need crucial.

The explosion of cat and dog populations in third world countries has escalated at an alarming rate as poverty stricken areas increase. This has brought about a rise in animal abuse which continues to pose a health threat to developing communities. As the presence of animal abuse increases in poverty stricken areas, it is a sure sign that human abuse is increasing as well.

Human development continues to encroach on the territories of neighboring wildlife, natural habitats are destroyed, and these species often have no option but to compete with humans for resources which all too often results in cruel methods used to kill these animals.

 Poverty - along with cultural custom - has contributed to a domestic animal explosion, the mass murder of specific wildlife species and the extermination of wildlife that is forced to compete with humans for resources.

Added to this, children as young as eight years old are being lured into a life of crime and drugs with the consequences being a desensitization to violence and the automatic tendency to objectify animals in order to carry out acts of extreme cruelty such as dog fighting and gang initiations.

Dreamskills aims to educate the public on all matters pertaining to wild and domestic animals in order to create a more humane society that will contribute to a less violent future,benefits our children, our animals, the environment, and ensures the future success of this country.

Our programs are aimed at the youth, the public and businesses. We are linked to a UK based, online training academy called Animal Jobs Direct who provide over 60 different career based Animal specific programs. This partnership gives our youth an option to develop a career in Animal Welfare.Venturing into townships to educate has become dangerous hence we offer educational programs at our centre.
Our training program is based on a 4.4 hectare piece of land in Hibberdene, KZN. The property contains student accommodation (eight students can be accommodated at a time), volunteer accommodation, training room and management accommodation. The property is ideal for teaching students (many who have never had the comfort of a bed or experienced a hot shower) about Animal Care, Protection and Welfare.

The facility is set high on a hill overlooking the holiday town of Hibberdene with a 180 degree sea view in front and the Kwazulu Natal Tropical forest behind it. The property boasts its own natural dam and is teaming with vervet monkeys, bush buck, duiker, bush pig, reed buck, birdlife and other wildlife.