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 notΒ 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.



  1. Great short story, Ann. Had to read it twice to figure out Fran doesn’t know Em well enough to know that Walter is Em’s partner, that Walter is kind, and invites Fran to the church festivity out of generosity, and that Fran finally figures out, maybe only vaguely, that her friend Em is Walter’s partner. It is pretty subtle as a tale. Fran is too ‘city girl’ for Walter, who is already taken anyway. Have I gotten it right? We wonder why Em goes home to the farm, although she has her own apt. I gather they live separately, but feel at home in each other’s place.


    • Thank you for reading my short story, Julie. Sorry it took you two readings to work out the relationships – perhaps I should have provided more details, but wanted to focus on dialogue this time. You worked it all out in the end though πŸ™‚


    • We have ‘trash pickers’ who give all the garbage bags a thorough going through when we put them out on the pavement once a week for collection by the municipality. I am grateful not to be in their place.


  2. List of birds totally different from our list, just taken on our 13th annual June bird count, when all are nesting and singing. You have a fantastic camera, either on phone or ?


  3. Sometimes here there is a feeling that bins should not be provided because people should take away any litter that they bring to a site, rather than leave it for someone else to clear away


  4. The second solution is perfect and much cheaper. Those monkeys with their paws which so resemble a humans. They have a lot of strength in those paws from climbing and swinging. I was pretty astounded to see the video of the orangutan that grabbed a zookeeper today – first he pulled his shirt and when another zookeeper attempted to pull him away, the orangutan grabbed its leg! Wow!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.