Elation in the rescue of a vervet monkey who harassed a South African village

Cora notifies her team she and her new friend, the vervet are ready to move on.Some people would think that walking through a charcoaled field (or veld in local slang) at night with temperatures dipping in the single digits in degrees Celsius whilst following close on the heels of a local police officer, the IFAW Community Led Animal Welfare director Cora Bailey and a proud Zulu clan member was sheer madness. 

I disagree, I can’t think of anything more exciting. 

I love my job and once again my visit to CLAW to spend some time with Cora Bailey left me proud to be part of an amazing team.

Cora received a phone call earlier in the day from a police officer informing her that the monkey which has been living in the surrounds of a cultural village had been threatening children walking home from school and action would need to be taken soon unless Cora could capture the monkey. 

This can only mean one thing, Cora said, without needing to elaborate. If not captured and rehomed by CLAW, the monkey would be killed.

Close to sundown we headed out to the cultural village, eventually arriving in darkness. 

Buthelezi the caretaker greeted us with a smile.  He jumped into the vehicle and directed us to the monkey trap.

The traps needed to be reset but there was clear evidence that the primate has been in the vicinity with Buthelezi taking care to keep the trap baited in an attempt to capture him. 

It had been six weeks since the monkey was first sighted, a long time for any wild animal trying to survive in suburbia and his welfare was seriously compromised.

Cora reset the trap and spent a few minutes chatting to Buthelezi thanking him for continuing to keep the trap baited. 

The night air was bitterly cold and the smell of a recent fire filled the breeze, the burnt grass crackling under one’s feet as we walked back to the vehicle. 

Mid-morning the next day we received a call from Buthelezi and elation erupted in the car when we heard that our little primate friend visited the trap in the night and had been safely captured. 

We diverted from our destination and headed straight to the cultural village.

Sure enough, upon arrival, we found Buthelezi on our way to the trap, smiling wide as we passed him.  He was very proud of himself for having had a hand in the capture and, rightly so.

Cora was surprised at the size of the male vervet, commenting that it was no mean feat that he has survived for six weeks or more, fending off dogs and stones while at the same time trying to find food to eat.

The rest of the CLAW team arrived and the experienced hands of De Villiers, Hassan and Dr Eric Mimbe safely loaded the tired and frightened boy primate onto the vehicle. 

He spent the next few days at a safe haven, before being taken to his new home, far away from the city lights.

One less thing for Cora to worry about, I thought to myself, a small victory amongst a range of seemingly insurmountable challenges, thanks to Cora’s determination.

--LCH

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