Monkey on road to recovery


A juvenile samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) will go back to her family after recuperating at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital. Originally from Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, she was admitted with wounds to the head and a fractured pelvis.

The Samango monkey. Photo: Ashleigh Pienaar

The monkey was a victim of human-wildlife conflict as x-rays revealed two pellets in her skull. This might have caused her to fall out of a tree, resulting in her injuries.


Nicci Wright, director and wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, says they treat primates on a monthly basis.

“Most of them have been confiscated by the authorities, injured or rescued,” she explains. Many of the primates they treat are shot with pellet guns and the pellets are revealed by routine x-rays.

When the monkey arrived at the hospital, she was slightly concussed and in pain. Her peripheral vision was slightly affected.

“As soon as we are happy that her pelvis is fixed completely then she will go back and be released with her family group,” Wright says. “Our veterinarian, Dr Karin Lourens has chosen not to remove the pellets
as they are not causing any pain or issues.”

When she is ready for release, a researcher who has been studying the resident samango group will monitor her gradual reintroduction into her family group, with the team’s guidance. “He will put her in
a pre-release enclosure where she will re-acclimatise to the area and bond with her family group once again,” Wright explains.

Samango monkeys are listed as one of the Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) in South Africa and restricted to Afromontane and coastal forests. They are found from the Limpopo province all the way down the eastern side of the country. As an arboreal species, they spend most of their time travelling, foraging and resting in the forest canopy. Their diet consists of fruit, leaves and insects. Samango monkeys concentrate on a few plant species only, making population density dependent on species richness
and diversity.

South African populations have declined sharply and they are currently listed as Vulnerable in
the Red Data Book of Mammals of South Africa.

“Some people view primates as pests because they eat fruit and crops,” Wright adds. “Habitat loss due to farming causes many of these human-wildlife issues,” she says.

Written by René de Klerk

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