Sunday, 12 February 2012

Another two reasons to ban airgun ownership in South Africa

This post is the same information sent this week to the Northglen News, a community newspaper circulated in Durban North and surrounds. Using community newspapers is a very effective means of making the public aware of the work we do to rescue monkeys and educate people about them, because the newspapers reach most homes free of charge in the areas they cover...

Following is the account of what happened to the young monkey we rescued from James Place in Durban North last Wednesday, January 25th:

Responding to a call about an injured monkey in a James Place, Durban North, garden, Monkey Helpline coordinators, Carol Booth and Steve Smit, were distressed to find yet another monkey paralyzed in the lower body after having been shot with a pellet gun.

“This is the third monkey we have rescued in that particular area over the past year and they were all paralyzed as the result of having lead pellets from an air gun shot into their spine”, said Carol. “They were found in such close proximity that we are convinced that it is the same shooter responsible for all three incidents. This was a beautiful, two-year old female who posed no threat to human or pet, whose only crime was to forage for food in a territory that has been the traditional home of her ancestral troop for countless generations, and certainly for a period that pre-dates the development of that area for human residential purposes.”

Steve says that many people who own and use pellet guns (air gun) are ignorant of the fact that they are committing a crime in terms of the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 0f 2000, in which it is clearly set out that the use of a pellet gun is as strictly controlled as is the use of a firearm.

“When people buy pellet guns the sellers do not notify them that there are strict limitations on the use of pellet guns in residential areas, in fact anywhere that holds the risk of injury to another person or damage to property. It is very irresponsible to both sell and acquire a pellet gun without familiarizing oneself with the relevant legislation controlling the use of such a weapon”, says Steve.

Carol, who is usually the one holding the traumatized monkey en route to the vet where it will be euthanized due to the irreversible damage cause by the pellet smashing its spine, says the heartbreak is almost too much to bear.

“The callous individuals who shoot monkeys just don’t seem to have any compassion and are oblivious to the terrible pain and fear they cause to innocent animals. Once they shoot an animal, and believe me, they also shoot Hadedas, other birds such as doves, pigeons and Indian Mynahs, neighbours dogs and cats, they walk away and leave it where it falls. That the animal can then suffer an agonizing death over days, even weeks, doesn’t concern them at all. These people need to be identified and prosecuted, but the only way this can happen is if neighbours who know who the shooters are come forward and blow the whistle on these criminals. The more successful prosecutions we have, the sooner the shooters will get the message and keep their pellet guns locked away.”

When it comes to identifying the shooters, Steve has no hesitation in stating that it is almost always males who are responsible.

“In a few cases over the years we have had reports of women doing the shooting”, says Steve, “and on each occasion these have been people who have a farm background or whose husbands or fathers are hunters. There is also the misconception that monkeys are shot by bored kids playing around. Fact is that most shootings are by older, male teenagers and adult men and are done with the deliberate intention of maiming or killing the monkey. Pellet guns are not toys!”

A few days after this incident, Monkey Helpline was called out to Redhill, Durban North to rescue another small monkey who had, according to the caller, been bitten by his dog. “We arrived to find a one year old little female Vervet who was hardly able to move, with numerous old injuries on her back and legs”, said Carol. “These appeared to be the result of monkey bites and were of such a nature that the monkey would not have been able to escape from a dog should such an attack have occurred, as the caller said it had. As soon as I picked up the monkey I could see that she had been shot into her head with a lead pellet from a pellet gun. The shooter must have shot her as she sat on the ground, because as an x-ray later revealed, the pellet had entered just below her right temple and travelled downward along the inside of her skull, finally lodging up against the skull at the right back of her brain. In her already injured state the little monkey was helpless and must have sat terrified as the shooter approached her, took aim and fired the pellet into her head”.

The little monkey was taken to Dr Kerry Easson at Riverside Vet in Durban North where she was treated and then taken to the Monkey Helpline ‘high care” where she is being cared for whilst under observation to see how she responds to the effects of the pellet in her brain.

Monkey Helpline has launched an international campaign to get the private ownership of air guns banned in South Africa. For more information on this campaign or to report shooters, contact Monkey Helpline on 082 659 4711 or 082 411 5444, or on or .

Pics - top to bottom:

Top - Young female monkey rescued from James Place, Durban North. The entry site of the pellet that penetrated her spine and paralyzed her is visible on her left side behind her shoulder. This beautiful monkey was humanely euthanized just after this photo was taken. The photo was only taken after she had been gently sedated into total unconsciousness.

Middle - X-ray of the head of the little monkey from Redhill, showing the pellet lodged at the right rear inside the skull.

Bottom - The Redhill monkey under care at the Monkey Helpline "high care" facility in Westville, Durban. Only time will tell whether she will survive the violent assault with a pellet gun.

Friday, 10 February 2012

New Monkey Helpline Banking Details

The previous post contained Monkey Helpline banking details associated with Animal Rights Africa Trust that used to have Monkey Helpline as a project. This past week Monkey Helpline established as an independent organisation, completely separate from Animal Rights Africa Trust. A management committee was elected, a Constitution was adopted and a proposal to open a bank account was adopted. The bank account was opened the next day and Monkey Helpline's new bank details are as follows:

Bank: Standard
Branch: Westville
Branch code: 045426
Account type: Savings
Account number: 054961459
Swift code: SBZAZAJJ
Ref: Name or email

These bank details replace the bank details contained in the previous post. Any funds deposited into the old account, which will be maintained for a number of months, have already been, or will be, transferred to the new account.

Your support will be greatly valued by all at Monkey Helpline.

Remember, without your donations we will not be able to meet the costs associated with rescues, high care and recovery, travel, communications, etc. Monkey Helpline cannot exist without your suppport.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012

Monkey Helpline NEEDS YOU!

Its been a while since last I sat down in front of this computer to create a new blog post, primarily because we have been so busy rescuing and caring for Vervet Monkeys, even into the early hours of the morning, that I have been too tired to get my mind around drafting a post for this blog. So what has changed to get me in front of my computer putting on screen what you now have in front of you?

Simply, Monkey Helpline is in dire straits. Financially the burden has just become too much for Carol and I to carry on our own. Actually, I depleted my personal resources a few years ago and because of the 24/7 demands of rescuing and caring for the monkeys we care so much about, I have not been able to do any work that will replenish my bank account. To do this would mean dividing my time between unrelated but paying work and doing monkey rescues, care giving and education. "Well why not do this", I hear you asking. My answer - rescues and caring for the monkeys we have rescued are, as I have already said, a 24/7 job. Unless, of course, I allocate a specific number of hours daily to rescues, care and education and also hold down a paying job so that any Monkey Helpline work that falls outside of those hours will have to, well, just wait.

Won't that just go down well with a caring member of the public who calls about a monkey run over by a car and dragging its paralysed lower body as it tries too escape into the roadside bush. "You have two options", I tell the caller. "I finish work at 4 pm, so if you could please just keep an eye on that monkey until I can get there, it will only be another three hours, I will rush over there as soon as I leave the office. Alternatively just leave the monkey and I'll pop by after work to see if its still there. If it is still there I'll pick it up and rush it to the vet, presuming its still alive."

Fact is, we can only do this work if we are available every time we are called out to a rescue, doing caring and educating in the time between rescues and the vet.

Why then is Monkey Helpline in dire straits?

In a nutshell, we have outgrown ourselves. The more effective and successful we have become at rescuing monkeys, the more monkeys we take into our care, the more time we spend at the vet, the higher our vet bills, fuel costs, cell phone bills, food bill, and other related costs. Add to this that there is virtually no currently available rehabilitation or sanctuary outlet for any of the monkeys that come into our care. More rescues really do mean more expenses, less available time and a desperate need for funding from generous and reliable sources. A sad reality of life is that without funds our capacity to rescue and educate will grind to a halt!

For a number of years now Carol has unselfishly carried the lion's share of the burden to keep Monkey Helpline delivering the rescue, care and education service for which it has become well known and highly respected. It would be folly for her to continue depleting her own resources to the point wher both she and I are destitute. This would have only one outcome and I don't need to spell that out here!

So, what now? To give up on the monkeys would destroy us emotionally, a scenario too horrible to even contemplate. Our approximately 750 rescue callouts annually would be left to other animal care organisations to deal with, and with all due respect, they wouldn't be able to successfully carry out more than a fraction of those. For the monkeys it would be a disaster and a tragedy, and for caring people who make the rescue calls it would be devastating.

But , you can help us to continue helping the monkeys. We are about to embark on a package of ambitious fundraising initiatives, included in which is an appeal for fundraisers who will initate fundraising projects for Monkey Helpline on a commission of total funds raised basis. Will all prospective fundraisers please step forward!!

Another reliable source of funds could be the recruitment of "sustainers", namely people who commit to a debit order payment of R100 monthly to Monkey Helpline. Two hundred "sustainers" would generate R20 000 per month, a healthy portion of the approximately R30 000 it costs monthly to run Monkey Helpline at its current operating level. This figure would be much higher if Monkey Helpline carried the costs of water, electricity and part time labour currently also borne by Carol, who also makes her house and garden available to Monkey Helpline's current operation at no cost.

We cannot carry on as things are right now. We have to raise the required funds and we must also expand to provide fully functional sanctuary and rehabilitation facilities. Whether or not we achieve these goals in the immediate future, and there is no alternative because as things are we have no medium or long term future, will determine if Monkey Helpline continues to exist. It has to be 24/7, 365 days a year, or nothing at all. If money is the root of all evil, it is also the food of all success. Without the necessary funding Monkey Helpline is doomed, and so are the monkeys! Monkey Helpline really does need you!!!

P.S. For all of you generous monkey-caring folk who are champing at the bit to contribute to Monkey Helpline, our banking details are as follows:

- Account name: Monkey Helpline
- Bank : Standard Bank
- Branch : Melville
- Account number: 081385439
- Branch code : 006105
- Type of account: Cheque
- Swift code: SBZAZAJJ

- Reference : Your cell phone number or email address

Pics - Top to bottom:

Top - Two baby Vervets rescued by monkey Helpline during this past "baby season" The little guy closest to surrogate mom, Jenny Morgans', is Drew. He was, as far as we know the first baby rescued in KZN this past baby season - 10 August 2010. He was found in the middle of a service road at the Bluff military base in Durban, on his own, no mother or other monkeys in sight.

Middle - This little one-year old girl was shot into the side of her head and the lead airgun pellet has lodged at the back right inside her skull, hopefully causing minimal brain damage on its way. She is currently under veterinary care and being cared for at the Monkey Helpline high care facility.

Bottom: Monkeys foraging in dustbins and refuse bags put out for collection, incur the wrath of many. Monkey Helpline educates people about how they can humanely prevent monkeys from making this kind of nuisance of themselves.