Vervet monkeys are one of South Africa’s five indigenous primates (the other four are the Lesser Bush Baby, the Thick-Tailed Bush Baby, the Samango monkey, and the Chacma baboon. Vervet monkeys are classified as “old world monkeys”, meaning that they have been around for over 65 million years - long before apes and humans.
In recent years, their populations are declining for a number of reasons. Habitat loss due to human settlement, being formerly classified as vermin and killed by farmers, being captured and used for laboratory testing of medicines, used for ‘muti’ or traditional medicine, and the illegal pet trade have put these animals at risk.
Vervet monkeys are vital to the South African ecological system, and it is imperative that they are protected. They are an integral part of the natural food chain in parts of Africa, as their messy eating habits distribute food from high places to the ground for ground-feeding animals. They provide natural insect control by eating the eggs and larvae of many species and assist in the germination, pollination and dispersal of various floras.
Since 2008 the centre has successfully rehabilitated 13 troops of monkeys, who are now living free at safe release sites, on bushveld farms and on nature reserves in Limpopo.
Volunteers at this project will have hands-on experience with orphaned monkeys as well as injured and handicapped monkeys. Occasionally, other animals are brought in such as antelope, etc. that will be looked after until they find a better home or can be released.
Vervet monkeys require constant care, and volunteers will need to be prepared to work long hours around the clock, even sharing their bed with baby monkeys on occasion. While it can be challenging, this project is great fun as well as extremely rewarding and educational.
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