Okay Monkey Put Down The Fruit and Raise Your Arms

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" I'll get you, ya varmin " ! Vermin - the scourge, tramps & vagabonds of the animal kingdom. This is the stereotypical view of vermin who are inconsequently considered a menace. In South Africa (SA) vermin paints a more disturbing picture. It is not overly well known of the disgraceful neglect the endangered wildlife have in the 3rd largest biosphere. I was shockingly made aware of this during a recent trip to the country.

The reason for the trip was to volunteer in the rehabilitation of the vervet monkey, indigenous to SA. This small, black faced, green skinned primate is one of such " problem animals " who are disregarded by authorities, despite the fact that it is listed as endangered.

I had no clue what a vervet was or aware of the vermin tag and what it meant when I had arrived. Rehabilitating the vervet was one of the possible rabbits picked out of the hat, my aim was purely volunteering and to see if I could make a difference.

Killing for food, for survival or even to protect your livelihood would be natural. This would seem to be a valid reason, but what if the information available portrays a distorted and inaccurate image. Coupled with the typical view that comes with this classification, could other motives be involved or just making an opportunity from it? Consider the Matapatcha affair. It is an organisation that deals in the supply of monkeys to labs. One of their clients is one that conducted activities within a government owned nature reserve. Despite if there is or not a connection, there are organisations who will with no ethics exploit these animals for their own personal gain. Or even to justify the killing of them.

The vermin laws in SA allow you to kill any " problem animal " without any consequential criminal charges. For example, the underlying reason for farmers in the agricultural industry for murdering these animals is the belief that they damage their crops and thus their income. Arthur Hunt of the Vervet Monkey Foundation has closely studied the vervet monkey for nearly two decades and dedicated for life to learning further. Part of his research has been whether they do cause damage to crops. Accompanied by the farmer in nearly every case visited Mr Hunt had shown with his acquired knowledge that the monkey doesn't damage their crops.

Out of these cases he has found that the monkeys do eat the crops. But, Mr Hunt says that the vervets do not consume unripe food. He has found that they only eat the edible part of fruit, fallen to the ground, caused from an insect. Therefore, as the fruit is unlikely to be sold and is thus perishable due to the insect, no original damage was caused to their income by vervets. Also, fruit sold in markets are picked unripe giving no reason for the monkeys to eat them.

As you encroach upon an area, a point comes when human meets animal. The outcome of this interaction depends on our view and attitude towards the animal. So, when a troop of vervets came down from the hills near Ga-Rankawa Hospital near Pretoria it was reported that a nurse was injured from being scared and the hospital employees were victims. This would be a natural reaction given the negative image.

The vervet are not only ones, even the African wild dogs have been the victims of this also. According to the WWF website [www.wwf] the killing " has resulted in immense decline in their range and numbers on whose populations continue to dwindle - only 500 or so remain " . Instead of being detested they are quickly becoming a tourist attraction. Hopefully this will help towards eradicating the vermin label. The Green Bank (a subsidiary of WWF) are even funding a project to aid this canine. There's hope yet.

Is there? Certainly not if people exist such as this following individual. He advertises killer instruments, the most efficient ways to kill vermin. They include gin traps , neck traps and 1080 poison. Possession of the former is banned in 90 countries including those in the EU. Even worse the poison is banned worldwide due to its potential threat. One spoonful of this stuff can kill a hundred people.

Even with the well known Kruger National Park there is much to do for wildlife conservation in South Africa. The killing of the large animals may have stopped but given time and awareness of the vermin classification may hopefully change attitudes towards saving the grandfather of the ape world and other such problem animals.

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