I volunteered at the Vervet Monkey Foundation for three months, between September and December of 2018, during which time I was able to experience the dramatic transition between seasons and the arrival of this year’s new babies! Living and working in the African bush, I took the opportunity to explore what South Africa had to offer, including Blyde and the Kruger, and even travelled further afield to Zimbabwe and Botswana with my time-off.
I was initially trained on top-section, undertaking routine care tasks such as changing water bowls, providing forage and disinfecting intro-cages. After settling in, I was trained on administering medications to our sick, injured and geriatric monkeys: it’s here that I find my most cherished memories from the VMF! I became very close with one monkey in particular, Sybil, who arrived with us after being shot with a pellet-gun, severing both of her optic nerves. Struggling to adjust to her new life without her troop or her eyesight, she spent weeks in a lethargic and depressed state, rarely moving from the safety of her perch and often too frightened to eat or drink. Something needed to change so that we could help her adjust to her new life, so we placed her on a course of medications and supplements to help boost her wellbeing. Slowly but surely, her energy levels began to lift, and she started to regain her confidence, learning that her new friend, Jay-Bee, provided her with the companionship she needed. Playing such an important role as the hand that helped her get through her toughest times shall remain one of my deepest and most wholesome pleasures, never forgetting her gentle and trusting touch.
Overall, the opportunity to learn, grow and develop my skills with the camaraderie of such a brilliant team, whilst working with Vervet monkeys, is surely one of the greatest privileges in life.