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.

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