Vervet monkey rehabilitation centre Vryheid W.A.T.C.H.
WATCH, or the Wild Animal Trauma Centre and Haven situated on the outskirts of Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal, is a rehabilitation and release centre for the vervet monkey and presently houses over 120 vervets. In operation for over 13 years the centre is effectively run by Bruce and Sandi Cronk, guardians and earth angels to orphaned, abandoned and displaced monkeys. The centre is one of only three official sanctuaries in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the prime objective of this haven is the welfare of the vervet monkey and their successful release back into natural habitats.
Make no mistake releasing and integrating vervets into the wild is quite a science and requires hard work, dedication and an overwhelming love and respect for these misunderstood animals. The rehabilitation process can take up to 5 years and requires extreme patience and perseverance. Humanizing baby vervets is not an act of kindness but rather a folly idea as the natural behaviour of a monkey then becomes “human” in all aspects. It is difficult to rehabilitate a humanized monkey and invariably they spend the rest of their natural lives in sanctuaries.
Keeping a vervet in an enclosed area is an injustice as monkeys enjoy acacia woodlands and love swinging in trees and scurry happily looking for seeds and fruit. Hence the absolute need to rehabilitate and release these very social and intelligent beings into indigenous areas or disturbed expanses in need of these special agents of seed dispersal.
We tend to think that vervets are over-breeding and feel very little or no need to care for these animals that are so evolutionarily close to us. We have taken land that was once abundant with food and on this beautiful land we have constructed massive shopping malls and large upmarket estates and never once did we take cognizance of the vervet monkey. Surely we are intelligent enough to know that there is enough space on Earth for all of God’s creatures; wise enough to know that there is zilch room for greed.
Interesting facts and information about this Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation Center
- It is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on funding and donations from the public. All funds are utilized within the centre for feed, transport costs, maintenance of the enclosures or new materials. Food is required on a daily basis for the adult monkeys and baby formula is a must for the orphaned or abandoned newborns. In a place like WATCH, dosh is always appreciated as costs are endless and sacrifices tenfold.
- Sponsorship from St. Andrews University in Scotland and Neuchantel University in Switzerland is something worth noting and hopefully will encourage other institutions to assist.
- Volunteers are an important part of WATCH and are required to work with the monkeys, attend to husbandry matters and assist with the maintenance of the large areas, drive to collect food or simply clean enclosures. A very big part of volunteering involves working with newborn and baby vervets as a substitute mother. The centre can accommodate four volunteers at a time and it is preferable that one stays for a minimum period of three weeks.
- Enclosures are spacious and interaction with humans is kept to a minimal allowing for natural monkey behaviour to present itself; establishing hierarchies in different troops, frequent grooming, chittering and chattering and sending high pitched danger warnings or simply mothering the young.
- All research and observation of the vervet monkey is non-invasive and provides incredible insight and feedback to Sandi and Bruce.
Become a vervet monkey activist
A vervet monkey is like a lightning bolt, a conductor of emotions both negative and positive as the poor creature is sometimes unfairly disliked. We are very grateful for people like Sandi and Bruce, wonderful human beings that have combined their love for monkeys and created a special place for Vervet’s. There is no doubt that working with animals is self-rewarding but often an undertaking not appreciated or understood by the general public.
Don’t be a slacktivist, rather strive to be an activist, put your money and time where your mouth is and volunteer, donate or fund-raise for this very worthy cause.
Pick and Pay Vryheid very kindly and generously donate fruit and vegetables to the Wild Animals Trauma Center and Haven – thank you Pick and Pay.