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Posted : 24 February 2012

Monkey business in Bushman’s

 Category: Conservation

JON HOUZET

MONKEY business has residents of Bushman’s River in a froth again.

Pensioner Corrie Swanepoel, who has lived in the village for 12 years, claimed some residents were shooting at vervet monkeys with pellet guns.

“When a wild animal is wounded they get aggressive,” he said.

Swanepoel feels it is humans who have been disturbing the monkeys rather than the other way around. He also alleged famers had been shooting them.

Despite reports that monkeys had been invading people’s homes, he said: “I’ve never had a problem with them, though I see them often just beyond my fence in a piece of open bush.”

He expressed dismay at the municipality’s solution to complaints about the monkeys – trapping them and releasing them into the bush at Fish River.

“They’re removing a natural phenomenon in Bushman’s River,” he said.

“The monkeys won’t survive because they’re not in their troop. They’re family-oriented.”

He said Ndlambe nature conservation’s attitude was that some monkeys may die, but others will survive, and they will breed.

“If anyone was attacked by a monkey, if there was one case, then I would say, yes, move them. They say they breed, but they are being killed,” said Swanepoel.

He said he was particularly perturbed when one monkey was trapped it was left in the cage in the hot sun for hours before nature conservation came to collect it.

Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa passed on nature conservation manager Fanie Fouche’s responses.

“The monkey in question was removed by our conservation staff soon after the resident informed us it was in the trap cage,” said Fouche.

“Ndlambe conservation policy is to remove the problem (captured) monkey from the affected area and relocate to a protected area. This could be as far as the Kap River Nature Reserve in the east depending on the area where monkeys are found.”

He acknowledged once the monkeys were captured and released they would need to establish themselves in the new area by competing against members of other troops.

“Inevitably this could lead to the monkey becoming part of the troop or killed. That is nature, survival of the fittest.”

He said monkeys were classified in terms of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974 as unprotected species and could be dealt with by any means except fire and poison.

But Fouche said shooting was not allowed in a built-up area, and he urged Swanepoel to report any such incidents to the police.

He said some residents and holidaymakers had been feeding monkeys, not only in Bushman’s River, but throughout Ndlambe.

“These animals then become aggressive and even attack members of the public,” he said. “Humans (those residents feeding them) are directly responsible for the demise of the monkeys for firstly interfering with nature.”

Brenda Santon, manager of the National SPCA’s Wildlife Unit, said the SPCA “fully agreed” with Swanepoel that trapping single monkeys and dropping them off at another location did not solve the problem and was “definitely not the best for the released monkeys”.

“Releasing individual monkeys into a strange environment means the animals will have to look for a troop to join, often resulting in these single animals ending up in residential areas looking for food, leading to these animals having to be trapped again. The process of joining a new troop can also be a very dangerous exercise for the animal as new members are normally not accepted into a troop without a fight,” she said.

She said the SPCA would look into the situation and try, in conjunction and with input from the relevant parties, to find a better solution for the animals.

 

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