The Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) formerly known as: Chlorocebus aethiops], is one of our biggest ecologists in nature. They are vital for the survival of our environment and, although since April 2005 no longer declared as “Vermin” in the Limpopo Province, their numbers keep dwindling rapidly. Our interest as human primates is in constant conflict with the interest of non-human primates such as Vervet Monkeys and Baboons.
The value of free-roaming Vervet Monkeys is priceless. They play an important role in creating a balanced, healthy environment for us. The Vervet Monkey Ecologist helps create balance in our environment via;
- Bird control
- Insect Control
- Spreading of Seeds / Germination
- Biotic Interaction
- Pollination of plants
- Part of the Natural Food Chain
- Feeding of ground-living animals with their messy eating habits
Vervet monkeys are classified as “old world monkeys,” meaning that they have been around for over 65 million years – long before apes and humans. Vervet monkeys are one of South Africa’s five indigenous primates. The other four are the lesser bushbaby, the thick-tailed bushbaby, the samango monkey and the chacma baboon.
Vervet monkeys live in close-knit troops of 5–40 animals, led by a dominant male and a dominant female. Females have one baby at a time, typically every year. Babies are born throughout the year but mostly between October and March. Vervets are omnivorous, and eat fruits, flowers, seeds, leaves, shoots, bird’s eggs, insects, lizards, etc. They continually patrol their territory to defend their boundaries and search for food. Vervets only feed during the day and sleep in trees at night. Ideally, they prefer to feed in the morning and late afternoon, but if food is scarce, they might be forced to feed throughout the day or when food is available.
Man is the biggest threat to vervet monkeys in the wild. In addition to habitat encroachment and urbanization, thousands of vervet monkeys are trapped and sold every year to medical research laboratories. Vervet monkeys are also systematically eradicated by farmers due to the misconception that they destroy fruit crops. The farming community is responsible for the majority of the orphaned vervet monkey babies (most often the mothers are shot by farmers). The vervet monkey is currently listed as a vulnerable species on Appendix Two of CITES (Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species).
Bambelela wants to conduct research into Vervet Monkeys by observing their behaviour patterns in order for a better understanding of their nature. We want to make the public aware of the fact that we humans are destroying this vital species, through littering, offering them food, destroying their natural habitat and mindlessly trapping and killing them.