Who we are and what we do!
One of the privileges that come with living in the eastern and north eastern regions of South Africa is that we also have Vervet monkeys living around our homes, schools, parks and even our factories. With the presence of monkeys, we also have mixed emotions about them, but love them or hate them, feel or be indifferent to them, they are here to stay IF we can educate and enlighten enough people to care about who monkeys really are!
Those people who dislike or fear monkeys are directly, and indirectly, responsible for the unwarranted bad press they get and also most of the terrible suffering they endure every day. Vervet monkeys are amongst the most misunderstood, maligned and persecuted of animals in South Africa, and certainly in KwaZulu-Natal.
So what are we, the Monkey Helpline, doing for people and Vervet monkeys?
To start with, we devote lots of our time to educating people about the reasons why the monkeys are here, why monkeys behave the way they do, the things people should or should not do when monkeys are around, and how to humanely keep monkeys away from those places where they are not welcome. Just knowing that monkeys will NOT attack and bite people, and that they DON’T carry rabies, is enough to change antagonism and fear into tolerance and appreciation in many cases.
We also run a rescue operation and a “high care” unit. We respond to over one thousand rescue call-outs every year and rescue between three and ten monkeys every day, and their injuries range from wounds sustained during fights with other monkeys, dog bites, being run over by motor vehicles, electrocution, being snared, trapped or poisoned, and being shot with air (pellet) guns, catapults and firearms and being caught or injured on security razor-wire. Many are babies who are orphaned or injured when mother monkeys are attacked by dogs or other monkeys, or are severely injured or killed in human-related incidents. Over eighty percent of the monkeys we rescue, irrespective of the reason why, have got air gun pellets lodged in their bodies. Lead pellets cause terrible pain, suffering and a lingering death and no person, adult or child, should ever shoot monkeys with a pellet gun. As the largest dedicated monkey rescue project in KwaZulu-Natal, the Monkey Helpline is available to do rescues 24 hours a day, every day! We currently care for over two hundred monkeys in our “high care” facility and at the Monkey Helpline Primate Rehabilitation and Sanctuary Centre situated on the Mayibuye Game Reserve in the district of Camperdown in KZN. Whenever possible, recovered monkeys are released back into their troop, but if this is not possible then they are bonded into rehabilitation troops for release back into the wild, or else given lifetime care in the sanctuary component of the Centre.
Education is a vital tool in our hands and we distribute thousands of information leaflets, and visit many schools (on average two schools per week) to do educational talks about the monkeys. We also do talks to many other interest groups such as police cadets, garden clubs, public service groups, conservation bodies, residential estate/complex body corporates, etc.
Coordinated by Carol Booth and Steve Smit, the Monkey Helpline project, established in 1995, is a volunteer group, based in Westville near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, but operating throughout the province and also anywhere else in South Africa and even abroad where our assistance and advice are requested. All our services are free of charge. However, Monkey Helpline is self-funded and donations towards the substantial rescue, veterinary, food and other related after-care costs are always desperately needed. This is where you can make a meaningful contribution to helping us help the monkeys.
For more information about Vervet Monkeys and what you need to know about them, or how to DONATE towards the cost of the work carried out by Monkey Helpline, visit our website, www.monkeyhelpline.co.za and follow “DONATE” buttons, or click directly through to all donation options via https://www.monkeyhelpline.co.za/donate-here/ . Also visit Carol’s Facebook page, Carol Booth-Monkey Helpline, where a daily record of most of our rescues is maintained, or the Monkey Helpline South Africa Facebook page. Carol and Steve are available to respond to rescue call-outs 24/7, 365 days a year! Contact the Monkey Helpline on 082 659 4711 or 082 411 5444, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or for information on donation via Debit Order or for “Adoptions” contact firstname.lastname@example.org.