Mount Moreland has become the centre of attention in a recent debate over Vervet monkey populations.
A certain individual, who calls himself the 'EcoMan', has stirred the once quiet conservancy.
In his emails and public forum announcements on his new Facebook page, 'Vervet Monkey Truthline', he states that the Vervet Monkey population in Mount Moreland has increased. At a rapid pace. Decimating everything in it's path, and causing harm to it's human neighbours.
His ending notes are always that of defamation, and inflammatory accusations, with no backing.
He says his reasons for starting the page, and mass hysteria; is because he wishes to find a solution. Yet he does not ever offer one. Not one that is benificial to both human and monkeys alike, anyway.
Some of the emails that have been sent by him, include trapping and relocating,euthanasing the creatures, taking those carcasses and giving them to rural settlements, culling and ofcourse allowing human inhabitant to shoot them if they so choose.
None of which are synonomous with a person who wishes to find an absolute solutuion, for the greater good of the ecosytem at large.
A distinct difference between the individuals of Mount Moreland is, some have a monkey 'problem', others have a problem with monkeys.
The people that have a problem with monkeys; label them as thieving vermin, equating them with humans who steal from us, and trash our homes on purpose. These are the people who sit on their patios and shoot pellets into the spines of nursing babies. These are the people that have no problem watching their dogs tear a juvenile apart, or set off firecrackers in their gardens.
Then, there are people who have monkey problems.
People who have monkey problems in Mount Moreland, generally want to find a solution that best suits both parties. They just lack the knowledge to better monkey proof their homes.
Here are some facts that were brought to light at a gathering of Mount Moreland residents, last night. Which, may I add, Ecoman did not show up for.
The open floor debate was put together by the Chairlady of the Mount Moreland conservancy, Angie Wilkens. She also invited, Monkey Helpline's Steve, to lay out some facts and scary stories. Sue from Primates Africa also has something to say, as well as the Natal Wildlife Conservation.
Here are some of the issues and facts about Vervet Monkeys that where brought to the table:
· The drought durban has been experiencing, is one of the main reasons why some of the Mount Moreland (MM)residence have been swarmed by monkeys. The water that they do have easy access to, a human wouldnt be able to drink, and neither can they. This means they are looking for water sources, wherever they can find them. Be it your fish pond, or dogs water bowl, they need to drink from somewhere.
· Some of the MM residence agree that the monkey population has exploded. There are many variables to why it may seem this way, but none of them validate the claim. There is NO monkey population boom. At the meeting, this was confirmed by both Monkey Helpline and the Natal Wildlife Conservation. If anything, they say, the populations should be decreasing at a rapid pace. The talk of natural predators is always brought up, but it is the unnatural that keeps them on the decline.Some of the 'unnatural' ways in which the population is 'controlled':
1. They get killed by dogs
2. They get electrocuted
3. They get caught in snares
4. They get run over
5. We cut down their natural food sources
6. People shoot and kill them, or injur severly.
7. We remove alien vegitation, like guavas, and never replace them
Some of the natural ways in which the population is controlled:
1. Monkeys are only sexually mature at the age of 4
2. Sometimes their arent enough males in the troop for each set of babies, which means less sexually active males
3. Females stay in their ancestors home, they never leave
4. Male monkeys in the troop generally leave when they reach the age of 4 or 5
5. Monkeys are pregnant for almost 7 months at a time.
· People who feed monkeys, especially by hand, are the ones doing a great diservice. The reason being, is that monkeys have now become used to being fed by us. They no longer need to forage, as they should. This brings monkeys into urban areas, easpecially the houses that feed them. Now, used to humans, almost fearless, they will come into your home, if the opportunity arises, and take that which they need. Never mind the fact that we cut down their natural food sources to make way for new highways and shopping malls. DO NOT FEED THE MONKEYS. This is old news, and the message could not be more clear. Plant a tree, an indigenous one. Help regrow their natural habitat. I can promise you, they are more interested in those fruit baring trees, than the processed bread loaf on your kitchen counter.
· Monkeys have no direct effect on the bird population. Do you realise that when you lay out your bird feeder, you are creating the most amazing target for a larger bird of prey. Nevermind the persticides, human traffic, reflective windows, rats,snakes and so on, that kill off our birds.
· Some people are affected more by the monkey troops in the area, because they devise very specific foraging routes. These routes allow for easy movement of the troops heirarchy, on a contstant food and water trail.
· Monkeys help the ground dwelling creature feed on the fruits the drop, especially the delicious ones the ground dwellers wouldn't be able to reach.
· Their ancestoral home is just as much their home, as our colonised homes are.
Having read all of the above, and taken every line into cosideration, do you still think we have monkey problem? Or just people who have a problem with monkeys?
At the end of the day, we need to take the responsibility for destroying their natural habitat, and figure out a solution that works for both sides. There are many solutions out their, the first being; ' DONT FEED THEM', the second calls for a change of mindset and the patience to break the conditioning we have had our hand in.
Just for future reference, it is ILLEGAL to let off a firearm in an urban area, and that includes air rifles. If you see your neighbour shooting anything in their garden, you CAN prosecute, and should. Do we really want another animal to go extinct because of our negligence?
Under the animal protection act, you are also not allowed to trap any wild animals, and this includes monkeys, so dont try and get clever.
I challenge anyone who wants to shoot a monkey, to follow Carol Booth on one of her rescues.
For more tips on how to live in harmony with our Vervet friends, visit Monkey Helpline and the Natal Wildlife Conservation Page.