Handling the Vervet Monkey

Vervet monkey, baby Vervet monkey

Our Durban Vervet monkey is a special creature. Cunning and smart yet desperate and running out of living space, they have often been seen as a nuisance by Durban residents. Some feel sorry for them and feed them whilst others see them as a pest and attack them. Both are poor handling techniques. Vervet monkeys, however, are not classified as “vermin” and are, in fact, protected by National and provincial conservation legislation thus making the harming of these creatures a punishable offence.

Such offenses arise as a result of the urbanisation of Durban as it has grown over the years. Houses, offices and other buildings replace the monkey habitats making it harder for them to live and feed. So, they resort to cunning tactics of breaking into homes and ransacking kitchens and gardens to get food, destroying valuable plants in your garden. So what handling techniques and tips do we have to offer?

⦁ Keep food items out of reach of the monkeys, locked in secure cupboards. Out of sight, out of mind applies here too!
⦁ Keep windows and doors closed when you are not home. You can secure mesh to the windows to allow circulation and security.
⦁ Dogs are great monkey repellants but train them to never maul or try harm them severely. You want the dogs to bark and chase them away from afar.
⦁ Leftover dog or cat food must be moved out of reach of the monkeys. Also try change up your routine for feeding the birds so that this does not become a predictable routine.
⦁ If you have small children, ensure they do not eat food outside. Vervets have a habit of trying to snatch food from women and children. Children are less capable of anticipating this danger so teach them to eat indoors and not take leftovers outside.
⦁ Use rubber snakes in accessible and visible areas as monkeys avoid snakes. Water guns and hose pipes can be used to squirt the monkeys but not soak them as they can suffer in the colder nights. Change its location or attach it to a nylon string to not allow the snake to be perceived as dead.
⦁ Sensor sirens work too when they are set off by movement within the proximity. Tins tied by string at intervals performs a similar function.
⦁ Never take on a Vervet head on. They are not aggressive unless threatened or cornered. Stay facing them and wave a towel or stick above your head if they try stand their ground. Do not attack them though. Rather have a man do this as they sometimes challenge women. A small piece of hose pipe with holes being swung above your head makes a noise that scares them too.
⦁ Spray your crops with a chilli, tobacco or curry solution to repel them from your garden plants. Use netting and transparent boxes over your plants to prevent them being torn up.
⦁ Secure lids on your rubbish bins and you can spray Jeyes drain fluid around it to deter the monkeys.
⦁ You can lubricate cables or telephone wires or cover them with a movable piece of PVC to deter monkeys from accessing your house from these locations.
⦁ DO NOT use pellet guns or cattys as these harm monkeys. A broken bone or cut to a monkey can be life or death in their lives. It may only seem like a superficial wound to us, but their lives suffer more than we can anticipate.
⦁ DO NOT feed them or allow them any association with food and your house or living area.

While they may present themselves as a nuisance, it is a result of our civilization that has pushed them to these extents. BeeGreen is working on projects that will keep the monkeys healthy but far away from residents- training them somewhat to leave resident’s homes alone. We aim to optimise monkey handling techniques and tips. There is a balance between drawing firm boundaries with them but treating them humanely.