A FEW STORIES & OBSERVATIONS ABOUT PRIMATES
During the past years we have observed and noted a number of interesting happenings with the Primates in our care at APES as well as other areas and venues. Here are but a few examples.
We have observed the following over the years and found that new born infants are definitely smaller; it isn’t just the case with new mums but mums who have had infants before. Vervets nowadays are under stress situations and therefore more male infants seem to be born. Again, this isn’t just here at APES but, having checked with other venues and areas, this definitely seems to be the case. It is quite a well known fact that during the 1939 war, records show that more male infants were born. Perhaps this is the case where vervets are concerned?
Vervets definitely can use logic, not only among the older monkeys, but also the younger ones as well. Of course, some are more advanced than others. For example, Minky showed great interest in admiring herself in a mirror looking at herself from different angles and poses as well. She was able to recognize a picture of me in the newspapers that was laying on the table and kept looking up at me, I asked the following questions, “Minky where’s mummy?” she immediately pointed repeatedly at the newspaper photo of me, when told to kiss mummy she picked up the paper and kissed the picture.
As far as preferences in perfumes do, this was clearly illustrated when she visited her best friend, our neighbour Gloria, who admitted adoring Minky and allowing her many privileges, not a good idea, but this was clearly illustrated one afternoon.
Gloria phoned me and queried if Minky had been close to me, on me asking why? She said see if you can find her and you will know why! Eventually Minky arrived and immediately she had a strong smell of perfume which was easily identified as Youth Dew, one of my favourites. I called Gloria and told her what I had found. She laughed and then told me what she had witnessed.
Minky was allowed the run of her house and really wasn’t destructive or a thief – most unusual – but she was a very unusual primate. Minky apparently climbed in through the open bedroom window, went to Gloria’s dressing table, opened the drawer, took out some perfumes that were in the drawer, opened a couple then put the bottle tops back on replacing them and when she found the one she fancied, Youth Dew, sprinkled herself liberally with the said perfume, replaced the top and put it back into the drawer and then closed it!!!
I thought at the time it was just a single incident, but now she found my perfume, and I caught her at her tricks as well but not only did she like Youth Dew but Ballet and Channel no 5, what the other monkeys of our troop as well as the wild ones in our care who visited daily must of thought I will never know. Minky and Bullet used to watch me make up with great interest, one occasion both were sitting on the dressing table so I for devilment put eye shadow on both their lids blush on their cheeks and pretended to powder their faces both sat dead still while I did my makeup work on them. Then believe it or not both looked at themselves in the mirror, I commented “Oh you look so beautiful”, trying hard not to laugh out loud, with that both strolled out to the garden to their family and friends, if only I was able to take pictures of the expressions and curiosity of the outside lot without any aggression from anyone, both the “girls” paraded about so proud of themselves. Some might frown on what I did but it proved to me that they observe closely what we humans do and it is quite true ‘Monkey see, Monkey do”.
On another occasion when Bugs our ‘Founder Monkey” of A.P.E.S was a teenager and mischievous as they are at that age, loved to visit Gloria and especial Granny Ivy , Gloria’s mum who was Bugs champion. Bugs could do no wrong in her eyes! Both the ladies had gone to town and as usual their dogs were locked in the house and the kitchen window left slightly open for them. Bugs visited and gave the dogs a “Party” she knew where Gloria kept the sweets, etc and promptly dished out sweets to all the dogs then gave them biscuits and a loaf of bread as well. When the ladies arrived home to find a very happy bunch of dogs lying in a field of sweet papers and biscuit packets, I offered to help clean up, but they refused and retorted that the kitchen floor did need cleaning anyway. Neither were upset at the mess, bless them.
Over these last twenty plus years many examples of how these vervets have amazed us recently. 3 of our monkeys, still in the rehabilitation process, were let out of their enclosure by one very determined male called Bluey. A short note in his regard. He only has one arm due to an accident he had as a teenager with the electricity pylon next to our property. Thank heavens it had been made as safe as possible but he decided to show off, how he survived is a miracle and thanks to our wonderful caring vet, Ryan van Deventer, the wildlife specialist and surgeon, he tried desperately to save Bluey’s arm but eventually it had to be removed at the shoulder or Bluey would have died. It is incredible how quickly he adapted and even though he only has one arm he is fantastically clever he uses his foot if he needs two hands, so to speak. He has fantastic agility, and so is his speed of movement, Very recently he proved that he is also the boss here among the others.
Now I digress. Bluey let the 3 out who immediately took off in various directions unbeknown to us. I of course nearly had a heart attack, when Rod, who was helping with the feeding, found their enclosure empty, and Lord Bluey sitting inside he had pulled the wire away at the gate – how heaven knows – and entered and then the 3 escaped, Louis, Pete, both 2 years old and a very humanized four year old girl, Julia, who is always threatening the outside troop. She obviously is an alpha female who hasn’t learnt the pecking order due to being a “pet” until at 7 months old then she became a nuisance – so very common when primate infants are taken and kept as pets. Normally they are discarded or dumped near others of their kind. This usually leads to serious injuries or even worse, death, Julia’s was lucky and her owners brought her to us, past history later.
We, of course, started searching for the 3 escapees. Vovo our African foreman unfortunately was not with us but at a funeral of one of the community. Julia re-appeared while Rod was repairing the escape route, slightly wounded, nothing serious. She had, I think, been too cocky and was put in her place, but she rushed back into the enclosure and hid. Pete and Louis were nowhere to be seen. Eventually having exhausted myself I returned back to the house. A few minutes later a little community girl appeared at the gate with a monkey in her arms. I was astounded as the Zulu people generally are terrified of monkeys and baboons; she is the grand daughter of Vovo our elderly helper. I enquired what and where she found Pete, she told me that she saw a dog chasing a monkey. She ran after the dog, chasing it off, and found Pete lying next to the stream, He obviously was exhausted and terrified but she picked him up and gently cradled him in her arms and took it back to her home, Her grandfather, Vovo, instructed her to immediately take it to us, which she did and brought the now much relieved, but exhausted, Pete to us; I congratulated her and rewarded her. I was amazed and so happy that our education and example had rubbed off on a member of our African community, this is so rewarding. When I explained to Vovo how delighted we were and proud of him and his family he beamed from ear to ear.
Unfortunately there was no sign of Louis, of course we were both worried as the weather had turned rather nasty, threatening hail, but thank heavens, as it got dark the storm passed us. I did not have a peaceful night worrying about this little man. The next morning I saw the monkeys looking very interestedly towards the small forest behind the house. I asked Rod to go and see what the interest was, as I was preparing their first food of the day. Rod noticed Bluey staring up a large tree and then, low and behold, as he got near the forest Bluey appeared with Louis in tow!! Of course a very excited and happy Louis jumped into Rods waiting arms with many squeaks and squawks none the worse for wear, thank heavens. So all ended well. Our nerves are getting back to normal, for how long, heaven knows, there is never a dull moment here at the Sanctuary.
As I said, things are not always good and there are bad events as well. For example today we found a 2 week old little boy dead. He obviously died during the night as we had terrible wind and stormy weather. I think his mother must be a very new mum and hasn’t quite got the hang of handling a little one. It is so sad – one never gets used to death
Yes monkeys can be a darn nuisance at times, but when you know how to manage them and understand their capabilities it is easy to learn to live with them. Unfortunately they are extremely curious as children are and can cause a lot of problems if encouraged to come into homes. Another problem is feeding them by hand. This has caused so many problems in the past and even now though we, and many other venues, advocate that if you love them don’t feed them by hand. Make a FEEDING STATION and the secret is PUT THE FOOD OUT WHEN THEY ARE NOT THERE and away from the vicinity of your house in an area where you don’t mind them being. They then don’t associate humans and packets with food. It really does work as we have proved time and time again. Many people in urban areas have complained about the monkeys and their pets, of course if one encourages the dogs to chase the monkeys there will be a confrontation especially if there are infant monkeys in the troop. With regard to cats, we have witnessed that they can live in harmony. one of our monkeys, Minky, again adored one of our rescued kittens, Healey, he was carted up trees tucked under her arm many times groomed and accepted by the wild troop as well with out any injuries or aggression. We have also seen adult cats being groomed by monkeys – again without any aggression or injuries,
QUICK UP DATE ON HAPPENINGS 2014
BIRTHS: This year, as usual, births occurred towards the end of September through to the beginning of November.
Karen, the Alpha female, yes she is still the boss, had the minutest baby ever but typical of her, two days after the birth she handed her infant over to her daughter born last year to look after it. Karen only takes over if there is a problem or at feeding time.
Mandy, who still looks as if she is about to explode, looking as if she was having twins, but produced an infant 2 days before my birthday, which incidentally I would like to forget, 75 this year UGH!
Thrombi’s daughter Ali had her third little one which we named Thombi Two after the grand old lady Thombi who passed away in December last year at the age of 28. She surprised us all when, just before her death she had a little boy but he was stillborn and huge, I think she just gave up as this was her 3rd one that didn’t survive. We all miss her dreadfully. Strangely enough all her offspring have her “stamp’, so to speak, there is no mistaking her children. Her great granddaughter also gave birth this season, but sadly the babe died internally, mum obviously had contacted Tetanus. This possibly killed her and her unborn infant. We battled to save mum but she also died of this dreadful disease. We think she had injured herself on some rusty object and that is what caused all the problems. It is very hard to accept death especially when you have raised them for so long and know them intimately. So we now have 10 new youngsters and our free troop has really expanded. A number of our original males have taken off on their own accord to, as we say, “sow their wild oats”. Again it is hard to say goodbye, but that is what we work for, isn’t it?
The saddest departure, very recently, was Bluey. This is the young man who lost his right arm last year, as previously mentioned. On the 5th November he decided it was time to move on. Bluey seems to have disappeared where to? We do not know but pray that he has not been killed, which unfortunately is quite common because some of the Zulu and Nkoza people eat them. I have been guilty of feeding out a story to stop this disgusting murdering practice. It does work too!! If any one is interested contact me and I will gladly tell you. Again it is very hard especially as he was handicapped so to speak. We hope that he will come back as Paddy did after being away in the bush for over 3 years. Yes, his highness is back with his troop and accepted. Perhaps he will now become the Alpha male – that all depends on all the females in the troop.
RESCUES: at the beginning of the year we were handed a baboon infant male approximately 2 weeks old. He had been rescued by an African male who knew of APES and insisted the little chap came to us, Tugella, as we named him, as that was the area he came from, was in a mess and had wounds on his head neck. If anyone saw the expression of sadness in his eyes they too would have shed a tear. We are grateful that the SPCA did as the rescuer asked and with lots of love medical attention. He responded well, yes it took time and a lot of heartache mainly due to certain people that demanded that he be taken to a centre in Durban – no names, no pack drill as the saying goes. Well we had the authorities breathing down our necks demanding we do as this woman bid, but me, being me, was not going to comply as I have had a previous experience with a young baboon which ended in tragedy when the troop that he joined and kept in an enclosure for 3 years then released only to be shot with his companion a week or so after being released. So good people I am sure you can understand now why I was not prepared to send him there.
Thanks to the hard work of our Trustee a lawyer and the support of our DCO we won! He stayed until I felt him ready to go and he was sent off to C.A.R.E. rehabilitation centre, was it difficult? Yes, he had a firm place in all our hearts but it was best for him that is the main issue here at APES, not what is good for us! We have had fantastic pictures of the young man and he is doing so well and happy too.Tugela and his new family will be released back into a safe environment when ready. Thank you Samantha and all at C.A.R.E
Recently, a rescue was done at a farm belonging to a well known worldwide group. They have a compound (African staff housing complex) on a farm about 20 kms from here, but unfortunately these people at the farm are trapping and selling monkeys as well as other wildlife including the endangered Porcupine. Mispah, as she is called, named after the area she was rescued from, and her tiny infant were found in a small box at the taxi rank in Greytown where she was been offered for sale! When rescued she had a large slash on her head, which caused her concussion, but her infant seemed okay and still suckling. We still have them with us, doing fantastically well. Her head has healed remarkably. She has a good appetite but still a bit nervous. She has accepted me entering the nursery to feed and clean, but if anyone else goes in she hides away. We hope to release her back to her troop. This all depends on whether they, the powers to be, have cleared the area of traps and destroyed illegal cages. If we find that they haven’t we'll need to start introducing her slowly to the outside troop. Will it succeed? Yes, but not immediately. It will take a while and a lot of work but again I repeat that is what we at A.P.E.S. do.
We also assisted with 3 monkeys while their owners were moving, but the female, who was obviously a high ranking female, did not enjoy being caged, even temporarily, and decided to leave, again causing much concern, but we have sighted her in the area where there are a number of our monkeys who have left home so to speak, and she seems quite happy, her owners are heart-sore, of course, but realize that she is happy now – not that she wasn’t before as they did not keep her and her friends in a cage all were allowed to roam free – but, due to the situation of too many houses around and people, who don’t understand vervets, they decided to move to a more suitable area and, as mentioned before, while doing so, we were approached to give them temporary shelter. They have now moved on to their new home and very happy to be back with the own family...
I could go on for ages but as there is so much to do I will need to close and continue the saga later.
All that remains is to thank all those who supported us and those volunteers that did come to us during the past years, Thank you, without your assistance financially and hands on we would not have survived. Not forgetting the wonderful people who have donated food stuff, etc, a great big thank you especially to Aheers and Powertrade, bless you. To our Trustee’s, thanks for being you and especially Roy Harris who has supported us legally, thank you Roy and his good Lady Pippa. A special thanks to Devon at Greytown office machines for all your computer help, not forgetting Elle Durow special thanks for your vital assistance, your patience with my endless questions. Davina A. Joan C and not forgetting Les and Daniel at Webpro, Aheers and Power Trade all their management and staff that are always so helpful and pleasant, bless you my friends.
Anyone who feels left out or not mentioned personally, it is not on purpose, we do appreciate your support – BLESS YOU ONE AND ALL. May you all have had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and may all your good wishes come true in 2015.
Thanks to all those who care, not only for monkeys but all other animals as well as and the environment. A quick mention you might have noticed the addition to the sanctuaries name, shelter we have decided to add this as some people query sanctuary would you believe?
Dawn, Rodney and all at APES. (Known by others as Mandlovu and Duma)
A request: would some kind person please contact Facebook, Linkedin and other similar people on internet and please tell anyone that has tried to contact us via these people to send us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I will definitely reply. We do not have the finances or time to browse the internet to chat, thank you so much.
A final tribute and farewell to all of our monkeys and other animals that have passed on we will never forget you God willing we meet again one day. YOUR HUMAN FAMILY AT APES