“Nikela has a baba!” Our adopted orphaned baby vervet monkey is a mother!
Late in 2015 Silke sent a photo and asked, “Could this be a little Nikela?” In other words, do you want to be our latest rescue’s Guardian Angel. Of course we did!
Silke, from Bambelela primate rescue and rehab center, where to-date over 700 vervet monkeys have a second chance at living free, is a premier rehabber. Every year around 30 tiny orphaned vervet monkeys and about equally many older confiscated monkeys find their way to Bambelela. Here they are cared for, given new families and raised up until ready for release.
In 2016 we went to visit baby monkey Nikela. Her mother had been killed and this tiny orphaned baby vervet monkey had brain trauma. Fortunately, under the watchful care of Silke and her team she was progressing well. Now, today, this tiny baby monkey once left to die, is a healthy mother herself.
What an amazing journey! When baby vervet monkey Nikela first arrived at Bambelela she was assigned a surrogate mother, a human. At the center caring volunteers keep their baby with them 24 hours a day. As they get stronger they are introduced to a monkey surrogate. Quickly they spend the whole day with her and the other orphaned baby vervet monkeys.
Each night at 7pm the little one is collected by its human mommy… until something interesting happens. For the volunteer it is a bitter sweet day. The baby vervet monkey, instead of scampering to the welcoming arms of her surrogate mommy, she hangs back. The transition to being a monkey has happened. After that critical decision the interaction with humans naturally begins to lessen.
Animals like lions, cheetah and birds of prey, to name a few CANNOT be habituated to people and then rewilded! In other words cubs (unlike vervet monkeys) that have been petted CANNOT be released once they are grown.
Please do not participate in the petting of lion or cheetah cubs. These are doomed to be sold off for canned trophy hunting when they become adults.
Once Silke deems the growing monkeys old enough they become part of a newly forming troop. Just like in the wilds this new troop has old and young monkeys. There is of course an adjustment period. When all seem to be used to each other the entire troop (generally somewhere between 20 and 50 monkeys) are moved to a large rehabilitation enclosure.
At this stage of their journey the rescued monkeys are prepared for life back in the wilds. Part of this includes having offspring. According to Silke babies really bond the troop. Not only does this indicate they are comfortable reproducing, but with vervet monkeys many troop members get involved caring for and protecting the little ones.
As a Guardian Angel of an orphaned baby vervet monkey you receive regular updates. The following will give you a glimpse, as it does us, into Nikela’s journey to freedom.
Baby Vervet Monkey Log
Belinda, Silke’s primary rehab assistant, is the one who sends out monthly updates along with photos. What follows are but a few to give you a taste of the experience.
Nikela is doing so much better [remember she had brain trauma when she was rescued in November 2015.] Like human babies, monkeys at times struggle with Thrush. Nikela was one of the last babies who got it. But it’s over now for her and she is clear.
Nikela is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. She has got such a soft personality and such a sweet little character. She also loves her swim time. The monkeys are swimming regularly now as its really warm.
Nikela is doing really well. We have her with the little pinkface babies periodically. [This year’s arriving rescued orphaned baby monkeys] She loves them to bits. She is going to be such a good monkey sister once all the babies moves to kindergarten.
Nikela is still doing really well. She has adopted little Bijou [another baby vervet monkey] and loves him so much… she is always making sure she is there for him.
Nikela and all her friends in kindergarten got their weekly bath, we had to bath all the babies as they were really dirty and some of their friends pooped all over them. She is growing into one beautiful young lady. We started giving all the babies blankets in the kindergarten so they can cuddle with or sleep under them. We also installed all the infrared lights in case there is a really cold night this winter. We are boosting all the monkeys for the cold winter with milk and bread with multivitamins in them.
Nikela is still my special girl. She is still such a sweet girl taking care of all the babies in kindergarten even though she is still a baby herself.
Nikela is still doing really well. We have dewormed all the babies in the kindergarten, we are also starting to make the list on which babies will be moving and which ones will be staying in the kindergarten. I will let you know once we have made the list if Nikela will be staying or moving.
Nikela is still doing really well. She is still such a good babysitter to all the babies… she is having so many friends between all the young ones.
Nikela is still doing really well. She is loving the babies so much. She is on the list to be moved next to her new troop. Some of her friends will move with her.
Nikela is healthy and happy and all busy with the orphaned babies from this past season. All of the babies are sleeping outside in kindergarten since a few days. They prefer to snuggle up with their monkey buddies rather than jumping into nappies and stay with the surrogate human…which of course makes us happy. Nikela is very protective of the babies. If one screams…Nikela is on the scene.
Nikela joins Zoltan’s Troop.
Once a year we show you the home of your monkey. Zoltan’s Troop is presently forming and Nikela and a few friends are included. We are trying to put a lot of effort into creating enrichments and a colourful functioning environment. Each designed to recreate what they will experience in the wild.
For your information: Recently we gave freedom to the 19th troop… Now they’re living wild and wonderful. It won’t be too long and this troop will be doing so also.
Nikela is also doing really well. She is still loving all the younger monkeys in her troop keeping them safe and out of trouble.
Nikela is still doing really well. She is loving all the natural feeding we are providing the monkeys in the nice summer days. She is also highly pregnant so we will get our first baby from her very soon.
On the 25th we got word from Belinda that Nikela had given birth. Because she is being a very protective mommy, keeping the tiny pink face very close, no further details are yet available. [Photo way on top]
What an exciting time! Here this beautiful young vervet monkey (once left to die next to her dead mother) is now a healthy mommy herself. Both Nikela and her little one are in a healthy troop looking forward to living free in the near future.