“The Mkela rescued vervet monkey Troop is ready for release,” was the good news from Silke at Bambelela. Since 2008, when the first 60 monkeys were given a second chance to live free, 909 have been released. 851 are still enjoying the wild life nature intended for them.
All this thanks to one woman, Silke Von Eynern. Along with her team, which includes Belinda Langlois and dedicated volunteers from all around the globe Silke has become a highly skilled rehabber. We first met Silke in March 2014. During our stay the area experienced the worst rains in years. We saw first hand how this team of dedicated people worked day and night dealing with collapsing enclosure covers, and keeping water out of food supplies and sleeping areas.
Why the Mkela Troop is close to our hearts
In June 2017 we took our family to visit the monkeys. We watched the orphaned baby monkeys in ‘Kindergarten’ (enclosure where the tiny ones spend the day with a surrogate adult monkey and a human volunteer.) Silke pointed to a youngster with a blackish face starring down at us from his perch. Like so many others he was a rescued orphan. His mum had been killed by an irate farmer, or was it a careless driver? I don’t recall. Fortunately, he’d been brought to Bambelela and tenderly nurtured. He needed a Guardian Angel (sponsor) to fund his daily care. To help fund the 30 plus orphans that arrive at Bambelela each year Silke invites caring folk to sponsor a monkey for $15 a month. Our daughter and her three children jumped on it. They named the young vervet monkey with the blackish face, MK (in honor of our daughter’s deceased grandparents.)
How Rehab works
MK spent about a year in Kindergarten. Once deemed old enough, he joined carefully selected monkeys to form a new troop. Silke is a master at observing monkey behavior and rarely fails at choosing the right adults and youngsters to form a new family.
Now, almost four years later MK and his troop of 36 monkeys are ready for release.
But I jump ahead. In December 2017 we visited MK. He was in a special temporary enclosure with two partitions. When monkeys, who’ve never been together, are first introduced things don’t always go too well. A hierarchy needs to be established. Each monkey needs to learn it’s place in the new family. This generally takes a few skirmishes to get sorted. As one of the volunteers walked us up to the enclosure all seemed rather calm. Then, someone looked at someone cross ways and loud screeching and a scurry of monkeys and volunteers ensued. In short order the monkeys were separated and given a time to cool off. Mostly the newly formed troop settles in after a few days. However, on occasion there are misfits and a monkey is removed and later introduced to another troop.
Once the new troop gets adjusted it is moved to a much larger rehab enclosure. From now on human contact is minimized and the troop learns to be a cohesive family. It takes around three years till a troop is ready for release. Silke has found, that once babies are born the troops future looks promising. Monkeys, both male and female, bond around offspring. Females become babysitters and males the protectors.
The Mkela Troop is ready for release
The Mkela troop of rescued vervet monkeys has ten adult males, ten adult females and sixteen youngsters born since the troop was formed. Seven young males and nine females. Thirteen of these monkeys were originally rescued as tiny orphans while seven are confiscated or surrendered ex-pets. Monkeys are not meant to be pets. As infants they’re cute, but can become troublesome as they reach sexual maturity. All 36 monkeys, not naturally related, are now one cohesive troop, ready to be carefully transported to their appointed release site.
There is a lot that goes into a successful monkey troop release. First Silke has to find a suitable site. This usually is on a game farm. Then the necessary permits need to be secured from Nature Conservation. A temporary enclosure is set up at the release site. A small camp is established for the human monitor (this looks more like another cage as it is fully fenced to keep the monkeys out.) The transport vehicles and cages are prepared. The vet is scheduled. The volunteers are prepped.
Right now, all this is in the works for the Mkela troop release. One very important element is still needed, and that’s where folks like you come in. For this particular release it will cost $2,922. For permits, veterinarian support, transportation costs, food and supplies. You can be part of the excitement of setting these 36 monkeys free to climb trees, and run and play in the grass to their hearts content.
It’s super easy… and 100% of your charitable donation goes to help.
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Nikela is a fundraising nonprofit on a mission to help people protecting nature, especially doing wildlife conservation.