Animal activist appeals for end to cruel act of painting monkeys

2014-05-14 00:00

AN old and cruel myth that painting monkeys helps to chase an entire troop away has resurfaced in Durban North.

Animal activist and resident Joan Chalmers said in a recent incident a monkey had its back, head and nipples painted white.

Chalmers, who owns the Vervet Haven, said the monkey belonged to a troop of about 30 that passed by her back garden every second day.

“At about 2.30 pm on Saturday I saw this monkey painted white and the paint was still wet. This was done by someone in the neighbourhood,” said Chalmers.

She said people needed to use less harmful means to chase monkeys away from their properties and the sooner they learned that paint was not a solution, the better.

“Painting them doesn’t scare the rest of the troops off. Instead it traumatises the one monkey, making it vulnerable,” she said.

Chalmers has a rehabilitation sanctuary in her back yard where she keeps about 50 Vervet monkeys. Last year she released 30 primates into the wild in Vryheid.

“Our homes are built in wildlife territory. When the trees from which they used to forage are not there, they come to our residences as they have nowhere else to go. People should scare them away by using less harmful ways such as hanging pictures of snakes, crowned eagles and leopards up against their windows and doors,” she said.

She warned that these should be changed regularly because these primates are clever.

“If they see the same picture for two weeks they will know that it’s not a real thing.”

Steve Smit, founder of Monkey Help­line, said the myth suggested that if you trap and paint a baboon white, the baboon will run back to its troop, which in turn will run away from the baboon and the area.

“Obviously some people still believe in this nonsense. We recently rescued monkeys that had been painted white in Athlone, Durban North. These monkeys were still in the company of their troop. This shows that the paint doesn’t ostracise them,” said Smith. He said last week they found four poisoned monkeys in La Lucia, and only one was saved by a vet, while the other three died.

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