They are cute, curious creatures that can provide a lot of pleasure. Vervet monkeys are the primates you are most likely to have very close encounters with in the Mountain Zebra National Park – whether you are camping, caravanning or staying in a chalet.

There is plenty of natural food, such as berries, flowers, leaves and insects, about for them to eat so don’t spoil the relationship by offering them food – no matter how entertaining it might be for you. Of course they will eat it BUT this means that they will hang around the tents, caravans or chalets for more handouts and here is where their relationship with people sours; their presence stops being a delight; and they are regarded as pests. Why? They are quick to take advantage of an open door, window, tent flap or unattended vehicle with anything edible in sight and will whip in and take food, even if you are right there. Some people shout, scream, yell or even throw stones at them – while others laugh at the antics (until it happens to them).

This monkey moves away nonchalantly – and will be back in a tick if there is even the smallest chance of getting hold of the food left out in the open. It is better for all concerned to keep doors, windows or tent flaps closed and to ensure that all food is secure against these roaming monkeys.

The vervet monkeys that roam around the rest camp are interesting to look at.

Yet actually look more splendid sunning themselves out in the veld.

Signs in the rest camp urge people not to feed the monkeys – for their sake and for the sake of other visitors, this is one to adhere to!



    • Their cuteness is the problem: they really are delightful and very interesting creatures to observe. I ought to add that humans are the real problem for it is as a result of visitors offering them food that these monkeys become to associate people, vehicles, tents, chalets and caravans with food – which cannot always be good for them to consume anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. My only contact with monkeys was I India where we saw them stealing cans of soda or ice cream cones from children at the tourist site in the mountains, and we didn’t take our snacks out of our packs until safe in our vehicle.


  2. In Zambia the camp was sometimes raided by olive baboons, including one very large male who would stand on the breakfast buffet with a croissant in both hands and both feet. It’s unfortunate though because I’m sure he ended up being shot as a nuisance. The vervets were adorable, and people were generally very good about not feeding any of the wildlife – as you say, it just sours the relationship between primates and people. Much better to watch them going about their business from a respectful difference!


  3. Wildlife is supposed to be left wild. At least birds don’t connect us (for the most part) with food and will forage if the feeders empty. Mammals are a bit different and come to associate humans with sustenance. We have a saying here about black bears that learn to raid garbage or silly folks that outright lay a buffet: “A fed bear is a dead bear.” Bears that become ‘a problem’ due to lack of human foresight are usually euthanized. Sad, stupid and totally avoidable.


    • You are right, Eliza. Thank you for adding this perspective. Even the Common Fiscal which eats out of my hand now and then does so on its terms and is perfectly capable of fending for itself in between. The parks here have signs warning visitors not to feed monkeys or baboons for if they become over familiar then they may well end up having to be euthanized.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It really is the primates that are handing out the food rather than the ones who accept it that are the problem, and we also have been at the receiving end of the monkeys hanging out in the rest camp at Mountain Zebra NP after they had such a jolly time on our gazebo that it snapped in the worst of the December heat. They’re such beautiful creatures that I can’t be upset with the vervets, but for the rest of that trip I was fuming at every human visitor who even just looked as if they might consider giving a handout…


  5. Humans like to thing we are cleverer than monkeys and yet we can be very slow learners. So sad when habituated monkeys suffer because of our shortsightedness. Thanks for highlighting this problem.


    • I have always enjoyed your attitude towards the monkeys you have shown us in various posts: they live in the vicinity and you accept them as such. Visitors to parks and picnic places all over the country are transient and do not have to live with the long term consequences of their behaviour.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks very much Anne.
        And even people who live with monkeys as a permanent presence can be confusing! I know people who complain about monkeys as a nuisance and then on the other hand deliberately feed them left-over food!
        Although monkeys are super observant and seem to do their best to negotiate all the contradictions, sadly they are often persecuted nonetheless.
        Anyway, it is great that there are many who do speak up for monkeys and care about their well-being,

        Liked by 1 person


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