In South Africa these days, conversations about monkeys and pigs aren’t strange at all

These days, conversations about pigs and monkeys are just part of the workday in South Africa.Working as a Campaigns Officer for a large animal welfare organisation means, for me at least, that no day at work is ever the same.  Every day means facing and dealing with a different set of challenges in order to make a difference for the animals needing our help.

In conversation with Cora Bailey, Director of Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) in Johannesburg and the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Senior Advisor on companion animal work worldwide, I was reminded of this, in a very humorous way.

Our flagship project of IFAW’s companion animal work around the world, CLAW continues to change the lives, for the better, of many thousands of pet owners and their animals living in Soweto and surrounds every year.

There are many success stories to tell, however, there are just as many challenges.

The two main challenges presently facing CLAW…how to deal with the matter of urban wildlife, the resultant conflicts between humans and wildlife and the complete lack of animal husbandry and education related to emerging farmers trying to make a living.

CLAW is the only organisation in Soweto responding to calls from members of the public to remove monkeys from urban areas and not responding to the calls is not an option as CLAW has built strong ties with many of these communities.

Cora and I were having serious discussions involving the lack, or rather, non-existence of safety equipment when dealing with monkey rescues as she related the following, “Did you hear what happened to Hassan?  He fell right out the tree.”  To which my response of course was one of great concern, “No way Cora!  That’s dreadful, is he okay?”

“Yes, says Cora, lucky for him De Villiers broke his fall” and in my mind all I could picture was De Villiers running to and fro on the ground desperately trying to ascertain the path of trajectory that Hassan was possibly going to take on his way back down to earth!

Certainly no laughing matter and an issue which is currently being addressed, but once I had confirmed that no one had been hurt in the incident, these Laurel and Hardy type scenarios ran through my mind as I pictured what Cora described. 

We then went on to discuss the matter of pigs, more specifically, the recent acquisition of Romeo and Juliet, two beautiful pigs rescued by Cora. 

Now, some would argue  it is easier to drum up passion and enthusiasm when talking about rescuing cute puppies and kittens, or even furry little vervet monkeys!…and that the likelihood of doing the same when talking about one hundred plus kilograms of rescued pig is, well to say the least, rather minimal.

Not the case for Cora and I as we found ourselves so motivated by how, together, we could potentially assist CLAW in dealing with these very important issues. I boldly stated…”Cora, we are going to find a way to see how we can make a difference for these pigs!”

At which point either Cora or myself said, “I can’t believe we are getting so excited about pigs and monkeys! 

It isn’t strange at all?

No, not in the slightest!”


More information about our support of South Africa’s CLAW project can be found here.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters