September 2008 Newsletter


Monkeys have not been eaten in the past, but killed for traditional medicine (muti).
This is now changing…. People desperate for food are now eating monkeys. They are snaring monkeys, killing them and eating them. To make money, they are now selling dead monkeys on the side of the road, along with the avocados and bananas, on the N2 South Coast highway in KwaZulu Natal. This shocking new practice, is devastating our monkey populations.

People are migrating to South Africa from the rest of Africa and many of them come with very few possessions and very little money. They need to eat and live somewhere.
As a consequence, many have chosen to live in the natural bush in KwaZulu Natal, where temperatures are mild, wood is abundant and food in the form of wild animals (bush meat) is abundant. It is, primarily, these people who are eating monkeys and teaching others to do the same.
Snaring injury to leg
They trap monkeys by snaring them – they set wire nooses that tighten around the monkey’s leg, arm, neck or body. As the monkey tries to move away, the noose tightens more and more, until it cuts into the monkey’s flesh. Some monkeys manage to escape by detaching the wire from the branch it is attached to, but often still die a very painful death from septicemia (it causes lockjaw which prevents the monkey from eating and their muscles tighten with chronically painful spasms).Monkey died of septicemia.
We desperately need to stop the snaring of, not only our monkeys, but all the wildlife like buck, mongooses, genets, birds. Snaring occurs mainly in the bush surrounding our towns and snaring activity often increases when building contractors are in an area.

You can help us - People need to go into these areas to check for snares and if squatters are living in these areas, report this to the police
who must ensure their removal. This action could have the added bonus of reducing incidents of crime in surrounding homes.

Safety is important, so if you wish to help, we recommend the following: Note if there are squatters living in the open area and what streets surround the area of bush or parkland you are concerned about or the exact location of the area. Phone our monkey Hotline and give our operator your details and the location details. We will contact the police and the relevant Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Officer who will deal with the matter. If you wish to get involved personally, our operator can give you contact details for becoming an Ezemvelo KZN Volunteers officer.

Two companies - Komatieland Forestry and York have been suspected by environmental Stakeholders to be deliberately killing baboons in their plantations after an eye-witness reported this to a stakeholder. This was being done without these companies notifying the stakeholders as was agreed. Komatieland Forestry admitted killing baboons and intends killing many more baboons. York denied doing so but admit that they are considering killing baboons in the future.

Press releases were made only after Stake holders demanded answers from them!

This company, based near Sabie in Mpumalanga, recently killed many baboons in it’s Morgenzon plantation and intend killing more baboons in its Blyde , Tweefontein and Wilge plantations – according to it’s recent press release. They claim this is because of 70% damage to their plantations and in spite of having tried recommendations from Stakeholders !!! Stakeholders were supplied with data showing damage for a very small portion of the forests – this portion being the high damage area. Hence, their claims of 70% damage is only specific to small portions of their forests and does not account for large areas that are undamaged.

Neither York nor KLF has any data to show that all non-lethal methods of baboon control as recommended by stakeholders have been applied or attempted.

On their web-site they purport to be extremely environmentally conscious with the following quotes: ‘

prevent negative impacts that our operations may have on the natural environment, with particular emphasis on soil, water, air and biodiversity’We responsibly manage bio diversity in natural ecosystems and protect rare and endangered species, communities, habitats’ We encourage open and transparent communication with communities regarding our Environmental…’
‘We will support research and development to minimise environmental impacts’

They don’t appear to be upholding their promises nor their mission statement published on the web and even offer nature courses. Do they show visitors how they capture and kill the baboons?

York’s press release that was made in response to Stakeholders’ enquiries states that: ‘At the time that York acquired Global Forest Products (GFP) in June 2007, a moratorium on the lethal control of damaging baboons was in place. Since that moratorium ended in July 2007, York has not undertaken any lethal control of baboons on its plantations.’ York appears to have genuinely attempted to try various non-lethal methods of baboon control, as recommended by the Stakeholders and scientists and have appeared to be proactive.

However, once again, Stakeholders have not seen any data to confirm levels of damage prior to and after various control methods were attempted. Hence, we cannot take any of their conclusions seriously.

An example from their press release statement: ‘The problem of damage to the York plantations is limited to 10 out of 40 troops in total. Should York take the decision to introduce lethal control, it would be limited to this 25% of the baboon population on the company’s plantations. In conclusion, it must be noted that lethal control is considered by York to be the last option, with the decision process determined by an established protocol. Were it to be undertaken, it would be done on a case-by-case basis, undertaken by dedicated professional problem control officers, subject to permits being issued by the Mpumalanga Parks Board for the capture of the animals. The intention would be to eradicate only the problem troops, allowing for the occupation of that territory by non-damaging troops. In the past this strategy has proven effective.’

Below are the financial results of York published on their web-site – financial results for the period when no baboons were killed.
If you would like to help, simply sign the petition on the internet by going to 1202382 and follow the instructions.

Do they really need to kill baboons to increase profits? ‘After accounting for the group's two black economic empowerment transactions, fully diluted headline earnings per share rose 20% to 323,4c from 268,5c. The empowerment share holding now stood at 27%.The results were in spite of a R106m uninsured loss from fires and lower lumber demand with a slow rise (5,3%) in the value of residential building plans. Slowing demand was offset by a worsening shortage of saw logs.’

Revenue rose 136% to R929m in the year to December reflecting integration of Global Forest Products acquired in July. The merged entity’s operating profit rose 540% to R270,6m from R42,3m previously. Headline earnings per share rose 25% to 335c from 268,5c per share previously.

A new primate rehabilitation center is born in Durban North, called THE BURCHAL VERVET CENTRE. Joan Chalmers, a Primate Africa member and long-time lover of Vervet monkeys, has set up the first stages of the rehabilitation center in her very large garden in Durban North, Kwazulu Natal, permitted by and under the guidance of Ezemvelo Kwazulu Natal Wildlife (EKZNW), the official conservation agency for this province of South Africa.
After spending many years caring for the wild monkeys visiting her garden, she decided to help Primate Africa by becoming a surrogate mother for a group of orphan babies. Joan took to mothering monkeys like a duck to water and produced a group of bright, confident and happy youngsters. Her husband Tom, with a little help from Primate Africa volunteers, built cages for the next stage of their development – Joan was fully occupied caring for the babies and providing refreshments for all.

Subsequently, she received other monkeys that could not be released back to their troops but needed loving care until they are released after about 3 years in rehabilitation or sent on to a sanctuary for a lifetime of care if they cannot be released. Joan has now reared her second group of babies and has received more babies from other surrogate mothers from the South Coast of Kwazulu Natal, Sandy Burrell and Tracy Rowles. Her cages are, once again, too small, so the Chalmers team is in the process of completing larger cages to house a complete troop.

The cages, food, medicine and cleaners have been funded entirely by this wonderful couple in the twilight of their years! Each monkey costs approximately R10/day to care for, and with 25 monkeys in their care, the costs are quite daunting.


There have been changes to Primates Africa but we continue to go from strength to strength. Mel Sammons left South Africa to live in the UK, handing the chairperson baton to Sue Shafto, who has proved to be a dynamic and incredibly dedicated leader. The second AGM was held in May 2008 where it became apparent just how much has been accomplished by all the dedicated volunteers, without which Primates Africa would not exist.

These volunteers continue to run the Monkey Hotline, 7 days/week, visit schools, do talks at group meetings, advise the public on how to live with monkeys, attend exhibitions to educate the public, facilitate rescues and medical treatment of injured monkeys, run a monitor’s club, support rehabilitation centers for primates, participate in campaigns to save primates, worldwide and finally, raise much needed funds for caring for monkeys. It is an enormous task, so if you and/or a friend loves animals and monkeys in particular, and would like to volunteer, please phone the hotline now.

An important aim of Primates Africa, is to EDUCATE CHILDREN on how to live safely with monkeys.

We have found that most people who do not like monkeys, actually fear monkeys. For this reason, talks at schools are an all important tool in reducing conflict between children and monkeys, and if parents feel that their children are safe around monkeys, they will be happier to have them in their garden. We have a brochure that is aimed at educating parents on what to do when monkeys are on their property,

If you haven’t seen this brochure, please phone the hot-line. We recently visited Umkomaas Primary School and were overwhelmed by the positive response from the children and teachers. Birches pre-school welcomed our team and thoroughly enjoyed their visit.Mandy & Sue with pupils from Birches Pre-school-

Stephen is a new addition to our education team and has successfully completed a few Primates Africa educational presentations in Zulu, the most recent being as Isipingo Primary School.Stephen and children of Isipingo Primary School

Primates Africa volunteers had a stall at the formal OPENING OF THE BURCHAL VERVET CENTRE. Great fun was had by all (including the monkeys!!). Just less than R1 000 was raised by volunteers who sold lovely eats. The public, who so generously donated food for Joan’s monkeys, went home with great memories and full tummies! The money raised, was passed on to Sandy Burrell who cares for injured monkeys and babies, and Burchal Vervet Centre.

Mandy & Sue with pupils from Birches Pre-school- Stephen and children of Isipingo Primary School Sue and Mandy presenting a talk
PRIMATES AFRICA THE MONITORS’ CLUB is doing an excellent job. A monitor in Salt Rock notified us, that there was only one little 2 year old monkey left in a troop after an adult female (presumably his mother) had gone missing, probably dead. She called this little monkey Tobias. Since, he was so alone and was spending quite a bit of time with her, she began looking after him. However, he did disappear for a time and she worried that he, too, had died. At that time, a caller phoned the Hotline, and said that she needed advice as this lonely little monkey had turned up at her door and seemed to need company.
Of course, Sue put 2 and 2 together, and phoned our monitor in Salt Rock who visited the caller and confirmed that it was Tobias – alive and well! Keep up the good work monitors! If anyone would like to become a monitor, please phone the Hotline now and enroll.

A troop of monkeys that regularly visits one of our monitors FOR ARBOR DAY, Primates Africa sold indigenous trees from the Community Centre at Mt Edgecombe Estate 2.
Please buy at least 1 tree or indigenous shrub and plant it during spring. It’s the best time to plant trees and large shrubs, so that the spring rains give them a good start! In this way you can help our monkeys, birds, butterflies and other small mammals like mongooses, genets by
providing natural food in the form of a fruiting tree, long after you have moved on!

PLEASE AVOID USING PESTICIDES in your garden – many common pesticides are extremely bad for your health and our wildlife’s health by causing respiratory weaknesses and cancer. Indigenous gardens don’t have to be messy but can look absolutely beautiful. A combination of indigenous and exotic planting is good, but when buying new plants, try to find an indigenous option before buying an exotic plant.

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