myth - vervets cause damage to commercial crops
South African fruit farmers have unfortunately been detrimental to the health of the vervet population. There is a long-standing misperception that vervets destroy crops, and therefore farmers have killed more vervets than any other group of people. After investigating well over 50 reports of crop damage by vervets in the Limpopo Province, the VMF has determined that vervet behavior does not match crop destruction reported by South African fruit farmers.
Vervet troops displaced by urban, industrial and agricultural development often cross farmers fields in search of food. Evidence proves vervets actually cause minimal damage to crops on a commercial scale, with the sight alone of a troop nearing a commercial operation often resulting in their death.
This troops habitat has been urbanised and then surrounded by fruit fields. The troop now faces life in the developing town, or the risk of moving through farmers fields to pockets of threatened woodland.
Avocado, Mango and Banana are picked and sold when they are grass green, before they ripen. Vervet monkeys rarely eat crops that have not ripened. Vervets eat ripened fruit that has fallen from the tree and is already useless to the farmer. If these crops have been eaten while they are still on the tree, it is because the fruit has ripened while still on the tree, or because the fruit is infected with insects. In this case the monkeys pick the fruit off the tree to eat the insects inside. Vervets entering farm land in search for food therefore present no real threat to the farmer as commercially viable fruit is not eaten by the monkey.
Infact monkeys will seek out insects that damage fruit, in turn protecting the farmer from insect infestation. By eating all stages of insects from eggs to adults, insect populations are naturally controlled without the use of pesticides – The real misconception here is that once a vervet is seen on site he/she should be shot as he/she is about to damage crops. This reason alone has proved detrimental to vervet populations.