Monkey Helpline, started in 1995, is a volunteer group, based in Westville near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, but operating throughout the province and also anywhere else in South Africa and abroad where our assistance and advice are requested.
Our team of dedicated rescuers and rescue assistants, veterinarians, educators, monitors, fund-raisers, administrative assistants and supporters is what makes this project the success that it is today.
As a team we devote our time to educating people about the reasons why the monkeys are here, why monkeys behave the way they do, the things people should do or not do when monkeys are around, and how to humanely keep monkeys away from those places where they are not welcome. Just knowing that monkeys will NOT attack and bite people, and that they DON’T carry rabies, is usually enough to change antagonism and fear into tolerance, and frequently into appreciation.
We also run a rescue operation and a “high care” unit. We rescue an average of three monkeys every two days, and their injuries range from wounds sustained during fights with other monkeys, dog bites, being run over by motor vehicles, electrocuted, snared, trapped or poisoned, shot with airguns (pellet/BB guns), catapults, paintball guns and firearms, as well as being caught or injured on razor-wire. Many are babies who are orphaned or injured when mother monkeys are attacked by dogs or other monkeys, or are severely injured or killed in human-related incidents.
Over eighty percent of the monkeys we rescue, irrespective of the reason why, have got air-gun pellets lodged in their bodies. Lead pellets cause terrible pain, suffering and a lingering death and no person, adult or child, should ever shoot monkeys, or any other animals, with an air-gun.
As the only dedicated monkey rescue project in KwaZulu-Natal, the Monkey Helpline is available to do rescues 24 hours a day, every day! On any given day we are treating ten or more monkeys in our home-based high care unit – frequently in excess of twenty monkeys! Once they have recovered from their injuries these monkeys are released back into their home territory, transferred to a rehabilitation facility or placed in a sanctuary.
Education is a vital tool in our hands and we distribute thousands of information leaflets, and visit many schools (at least two schools per week) to do educational talks about the monkeys. During 2009 we spoke to over 40 000 school learners and their teachers. We also do talks to many other interest groups such as police cadets, garden clubs, public service groups, conservation bodies, body corporates, etc. In addition, we advise farmers, businesses, hotels and casinos, housing and golfing estates, botanical gardens etc on the best ways to manage human/monkey “conflict”.
Monkey Helpline networks with a number of other Vervet-related individuals, groups, and general primate- and animal-care NGO’s.