Responsible feeding saves lives, irresponsible
Vervet monkeys might visit your home regularly because you are on their
foraging path. They will search for food in your garden and unfortunately,
sometimes in your home. Many monkeys are being pressurized by
development, and are genuinely hungry because they have lost their
natural food source in a short space of time.
However, some monkeys
tend to forage in houses for food, because the food found there represents
the same nutritional value as a whole day's worth of foraging.
Many of us
cannot resist the temptation of feeding them for many reasons, but one
reason is common – that we care for the animals.
Unfortunately, there are
also people who feed them for the wrong reasons – to lure them for the
capture of their babies for the pet trade or to injure or kill them.
It is for this
reason that we request that if you feel tempted to feed monkeys, that you
do so in a responsible way.
The first golden rule is never to allow the monkeys to associate
humans with food.
If they do, they will think all humans are friendly and
will be in serious danger from hunters and animal abusers. With time, they
could expect you to give them food, and when it is not forthcoming, they
can demand it from you by jumping up, or even raising eyebrows in a
They are very unlikely to attack, but they will frighten
people who are not familiar with them, thus endangering their lives.
Monkeys are so graceful when they take
food from your hand, but, unfortunately, they will also think its OK to take
food from little children who are not offering them food. The child could
refuse to release the food, thus resulting in a tussle between child and
monkey where the monkey might nip the child to force the child to release.
Monkeys are at an even greater risk from abusers if they trust people to
the extent that they will take food from their hand.
If you are feeding monkeys and they arrive
everyday at about the same time for their food or play around waiting for
their food, you are making them dependant on the food you are providing.
While waiting, they can annoy neighbours and could become a problem to
you or your neighbours if no food is put out. In this case, we suggest that
you reduce the quantity of food, gradually, until they come and check but
no longer wait.
You will find that the correct quantity put out for a troop, will
approximate a generous bird feeder. They will appreciate your offerings,
but move on to forage in the natural way. Please ensure that the feeding
site is placed away from your house and the neighbours house. If you feel
that they might require more food than you are offering because their
habitat is destroyed or there is a drought etc. then encourage other people
in your neighbourhood to do the same.
The monkeys will soon learn which
gardens can be visited and which gardens to avoid and will not 'camp' at
any particular site. Quantities can be varied at different times of the year,
but ensure that any variation is a gradual process.
Natural feeding sites.
There are 2 types: artificial feeding
sites for short term provisioning and natural feeding sites for long term
After development of an area, monkeys' food
source can be significantly reduced, causing regular intrusion into
houses for food. This problem can be alleviated by the community, by
establishing a community feeding station or stations
are also useful for residents living near natural bush who experience
problems with monkeys during winter. A small amount of food can be
placed in, preferably, two or three secure sites, away from homes and
in natural areas. These sites must be carefully chosen, as they must
not be on the boundary of the territories of 2 troops (cause intertroop
aggression) and must not be in areas vulnerable to hunters or people
who will eat or poison their food. The food placed at these sites should
be similar to the food placed at bird feeders in gardens.
that there be at least 4 people participating in the provisioning, so as
not to make the task onerous and allow for people going away on
vacation or relocation.
The food provided must be sustainable,
economically, so ensure that the food put out is not too expensive.
Donations cannot be relied on.
Suggested food: nuts, pumpkin, gem
and butternut seeds for protein, brown bread, dried mielies or crushed
mielies, sunflower seeds for seed starch and protein, yellow
vegetables, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit and peels of vegetables or
fruit for vitamins, starch and sugar.
It is possible to encourage monkeys away from
houses by planting indigenous feeding trees and exotic fruit trees,
such as paw paw's, mangos etc. in the correct areas. This is important
for the long term well-being of the monkeys.
Preferably trees must be
planted away from your house or neighbours' houses and, if possible,
form a continuous avenue of trees for the monkeys to move through.
Any natural areas in your neighbourhood should be planted up with
indigenous feeding trees. These could become nesting and feeding
areas for monkeys away from houses. Please refer to a list of suitable
trees and shrubs.
For more information, please contact
PRIMATES AFRICA monkey hotline on 08 44 32 99 74