In 2015 close to 30 orphaned baby Vervet monkeys arrived at Bambelela Primate Rescue Center.
“Could this orphan be a little ‘Nikela’?” Silke, from Bambelela asked via Facebook in late December 2015. How could we resist?
To help defray the cost of rescuing these baby Vervet Monkeys Silke finds Guardian Angels willing to adopt them. A mere $350 is all that’s asked to help cover food, medical and diaper expenses.
This particular tiny Vervet Monkey was one of 29 babies who’d lost their mothers this season. Hers was killed by a motorist and she herself was being treated for head trauma. However, her prognosis was good.
When these little ones arrive at Bambelela they are first assessed and treated as required. Some are injured, others ill, all need TLC which they get in abundance from their carerers. During the day they are in Kindergarten, a large open sunny enclosure where they can eat, play and interact with other babies. One or two humans are always present as well as a surragate Vervet mother.
In the evening at 7pm its ‘nappy hour’ and each baby vervet monkey is fitted with a diaper. Yes, they do make a hole for the tail!. Then each little one goes to bed with his or her surrogate human parent, generally a volunteer. As they get older, Silke tells us, they naturally stay back in Kindergarten with the Vervet surrogate mother. One of the volunteers confessed that this transition is harder on the human than the baby vervet monkey.
Once this initial break is made the young vervet begins its journey to becoming a wild monkey again, by joining a troop. These troops are carefully formed by Silke to assure they get along and form a healthy mix that can survive and grow in the wild. This process can take as long as three years.
Animals like lions, cheetah and birds of prey, to name a few CANNOT be habituated to people and then rewilded! In other words cubs that have been petted CANNOT be released once they are grown.
Visit to Bambelela to Meet Baby Vervet Monkey “Nikela”
It’s a warm late morning in March 2016 when we arrive at Bambelela. Sue, a seasoned worker at the center, greets us. Shortly after we’re settled in our accommodations (Guardian Angels get to stay in one of the lovely cottages on the farm) Dean comes for us. As Bambelela is a rehabilitation facility no guests or visitors are allowed unaccompanied to enter, and then only to certain areas.
Dean guides us to the Kindergarten enclosure and around to the ‘visiting room’. This special room is for Guardian Angels to meet their adopted baby vervet monkey. This interaction is only permissible before the young one is introduced to a troop. Once that happens only the assigned carerer and their back-up are allowed to interact with the monkeys. The reason of course being to lessen the human contact and to prepare them for wild living once again.
Dean advises I remove my earrings before we enter the ‘visiting room’. Belinda meets us with baby Nikela sitting on her arm chewing on a chunk of sweet potato. She has grown significantly since I first saw her photo almost three months ago. Belinda tells us she is doing well, albeit a bit slow for her age due to the head injury.
A baby vervet monkey is so much like a human baby, cautious of strangers yet very curious. Nikela jumps on my arm, in a flash she is sitting on my shoulder, still munching on her treat. Then she bounds off using Russ as a springboard to leap on the cabinet. As she gets more comfortable with our presence she inspects Russ’ glasses, plays with my bracelets and shows off to the other babies. Some are clinging to the wire wall that separates the ‘visiting room’ from the Kindergarten enclosure watching like children.
Belinda tells us that many a heart has been transformed in this room. One farmer in particular, known for shooting ‘nuisance’ vervets was ‘drug’ to the center by his young granddaughter. After a few minutes with an orphan from a mother he’d shot he was changed. Reports have it that he is now adamantly against anyone on his property harming a vervet monkey.
Russ and I leave the ‘visiting room’ having made a new friend and more committed to inviting folk like you to join us in giving these baby vervet monkeys a second chance at living wild.
Helping is easy…
100% of your charitable donation goes to help the monkeys.