Monday, 15 September 2008


Tuesday, September 9 starts with phone calls to various people in Bloemfontein trying to find anyone who has any information about alleged plans to move little Adam, a 6 month-old Chacma baboon from the medical research laboratories at Free State University to a rehabilitation centre.

For those who don’t know, Adam was handed to the Free State conservation authorities a few months ago by some good folk who had found him abandoned and, after caring for him for a while, passed him on in the belief that he would be placed in a rehabilitation programme. How wrong they were!

The Free State conservation boffins, in their infinite wisdom and compassion, saw Adam as a threat to the genetic purity of their baboons and decided that he should become a research tool. They claimed that there was no rehabilitation programme that could take Adam. What utter nonsense!

A public outcry by animal-caring people country-wide has so far yielded no positive outcome for Adam, but yesterday (September 8) I was asked to enquire as to where Adam was being sent, as there was a rumour that he was finally destined for a recognized rehabilitation centre – somewhere! I quickly established that none of the baboon rehabilitation centres anywhere in South Africa had been issued a permit for Adam, though all said they would gladly accept him. Then after a number of phone calls to the Free State conservation department, and being shunted from pillar to post, the official in the permit issuing office, on my second phone call to her, crossed her heart and swore to die when telling me that Adam was still at Free State University and that no permit had been issued to transfer him anywhere else.

So, young Adam’s fate still hangs in the balance, or should I say “imbalance”, as the conservation officials play god with his precious life. But he has not been abandoned by decent caring people and the fight to rescue him continues.

Closer to home Carol was diarizing a talk on Vervet monkeys that we would be doing to a group of learners at a prestigious Durban school on September 18. These talks, accompanied by an attention-grabbing slide presentation, form a vitally important part of our broad-based education effort about monkeys, and we try to schedule as many talks as we are able to do.

Then at 10.55 the inevitable daily rescue callout. Acquaintance Mark, who works for a heavy transport company in Avoca, north of Durban, called for assistance with a badly injured young monkey near the truck wash-bay. We asked him to offer the monkey food in an effort to keep it from moving off in the time it would take us to reach him.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the scene the monkey had moved through the 2.5 meter high razor wire security fence and was sitting just out of reach amongst the reeds that line a tributary of the Umgeni river. Wondering why companies waste so much money on this type of security fencing, I scaled the fence about ten meters away from the monkey and dropped down the other side, unharmed. The little monkey was so skittish that he crawled down into the layers of old and broken reeds before I could get anywhere near him and was just impossible to find. A half hour search yielded only nettle-stung legs and burning cuts from the sharp-edged reed leaves.

Not willing to give up on what we knew was a very badly injured and suffering animal, we placed food near the place where the monkey was first seen and asked Mark to call us when the monkey reappeared, which we knew – hoped – it would. We drove away with heavy hearts as we always do after not catching a monkey we have gone out to rescue. We fail so seldom that we haven’t got used to the horrible feeling. For the rest of the day, every time my phone rang we willed it to be Mark calling to tell us that the little monkey was back. Fate was not being kind to us – or to the desperately-in-need-of-being-rescued monkey. No phone call! We could only hope for better luck the next day…

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