The Vervet Monkey Foundation as founded by Dave Du Toit on 1993 as a response to a situation in 1989 where a baby Vervet monkey was found orphaned and abandoned. Du Toit learned that their were no facilities available to aid the young monkey, and due to the locals perception of the monkeys as “vermin,” it was suggested that the monkey be euthanized. This led to the development of The Vervet Monkey Foundation which saw that the solution to this problem did not lie in euthanizing these orphaned primates, but rather in developing a sanctuary, learning more about this species and eliminating the stigma which has been given them.
PWB photographer duo Kevin and Sheryl Minnett have always had a strong interest in wildlife, the environment as well as its sustainability; they also have a passion for environmental concerns, animal welfare, wildlife preservation, and community-driven projects, which lead to sustainable change. This drive has inspired them to travel to South Africa to document the Vervet Monkey Foundation (VMF). An organization which embodies their zeal for wildlife and environmental sustainability.
Upon arriving at the Vervet Monkey Foundation, they were struck by the complexity of the work that is done by the VMF. These efforts include caring for the health and daily needs of over 550 monkeys, as well as understanding monkey behaviour and the social hierarchy within the troop, This has allowed these rescue monkeys an opportunity to live as they should with the other monkeys.
“The level of commitment and integrity toward the welfare of the monkeys at VMF is remarkable,” Kevin and Sheryl states recounting their experience. “We were highly impressed with the hard work and dedication of everyone involved … None of this would happen without the tireless efforts of Dave and Josie, and the more than 100 volunteers who come through the foundation each year from all parts of the world.”
At VMF, the welfare of the monkeys is of highest priority. The VMF provides refuge and rehabilitation for orphaned Vervet monkeys who otherwise would not survived alone. As they arrive, monkeys are slowly integrated into one of several troops which may have between 40 and 80 monkeys. The orphaned Vervets live with these troops in the most natural environment possible, with the long-term goal of releasing them into the wild.
Releasing an entirely integrated troop into the wild is a massive undertaking; one which VMF is currently working toward. VMF successfully rehabilitates and releases numerous monkeys into the wild each year.
The VMF also invests their time and resources into educating others about the important roles the Vervet monkeys have within the ecosystem. Teaching locals how to live along side Vervet’s as their neighbours, as well as investigating and studying the Vervet monkeys behaviour to dispel any myths that have become unsubstantiated beliefs.
Currently the VMF is raising funds to purchase a natural bush area that can be put into a trust of the monkeys within their care. Giving the animals a permanent place that they can call home, feel safe and enjoy the real freedom which they should have always had. This protected area of land will provide whole ecosystems not just for monkeys but many other animals and vegetation and will also create more local jobs.
If you would like to be involved in helping the Vervet Monkey Foundation achieve these goals please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to donate on their website http://www.vervet.za.org/donate.asp