Placing rubbish bins at picnic sites are an incentive for people to tidy up after themselves and place their leftovers and litter therein, leaving the place attractive and tidy for other users. A problem arises in areas frequented by vervet monkeys and baboons as these animals can become habituated to sorting through the rubbish left behind by visitors to see what they can eat. Human food is not good for them – do any of us shun tasty food simply because it is not good for us – and by tipping over the bins or scattering the waste pulled out of them, they leave such places in a mess. Even worse, the laminated paper plates, plastic food coverings and the like can be spread by the wind. Not only would such rubbish be really unsightly in a game reserve, but there is the real danger of some of it being ingested by animals and birds.
What is to be done? A number of different designs have been tried out in different places over time. Many of them work for a while – until either the primates wise up to the way they function, or humans get tired of lifting / twisting various contraptions made to thwart the animals and break them.
I rather like the design of these bins used in the camping area of the Addo Elephant National Park:
Made of recycled plastic, these neat bins have a rolling top so that anything you deposit therein falls into the bag or bin inside and there is nothing for a monkey to lift. The only snag with these is if someone tries to stuff it too full or prevents the rolling mechanism from working by putting in something large without making sure it has gone through – we can’t blame the monkeys then. I’m not sure how expensive these contraptions are, but I imagine they don’t come cheap.
All the picnic sites in the Karoo National Park are well provided with bins. It was at Bulkraal that I came across this innovative rubbish bin, which cannot be very expensive to make and serves the purpose well:
It is made from an empty 44 gallon drum covered with a lid made from the cut out end of the drum stuck snugly into a tyre that has been cut in half. This makes the lid far too heavy and cumbersome for a monkey to lift, yet is easy for a human to do so.