MORE MONKEYING AROUND

These Vervet Monkeys were photographed in the Kruger National Park some time ago. The pictures provide an interesting view of them simply getting on with life. Here a mother and child work their way through fallen leaves and seeds to find something edible. Note the expression on the youngster’s face as it learns from its mother’s actions:

The youngster is putting the lesson into practice:

Success?

One can always try to reach the source of the delicacies!

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MONKEYING AROUND

The omnivorous Vervet Monkeys are curious creatures, ready to explore their environment to the full in order to source food. Like Baboons, they are at their best when seen in their natural environment.

See this Baboon yawning:

This Vervet Monkey is having a natural snack.

Unfortunately, as is the case with Baboons, the human-like features and behaviour of monkeys bring out their ‘cuteness’ factor which encourages visitors to game parks and popular picnic spots to feed them. That might be fun for humans and animals alike in the short term, but it is dangerous in the long term as the monkeys come to expect food from humans. Campers, caravaners – and even visitors staying in chalets – in wild areas have become all too familiar with monkeys raiding one’s temporary living space. This Vervet Monkey has just been chased from a caravan and is about to inspect the kitchen area in the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Their bright eyes pick up anything deemed edible – even the tiny seeds that have been scattered around a campsite to attract birds.

Once they have become used to humans, monkeys are difficult to shoo away for they lose their natural sense of caution around us. Being the opportunists they are, a group of monkeys happily walked over cars in a car park – keep your windows closed when they are around – to see what they could filch, leaving tell-tale footprints in their wake.

A BUSHBUCK SURPRISE

There is always an air of anticipation as we approach the entrance to the Addo Elephant National Park that gives rise to gentle rivalry as to which will be the first animal to be spotted. “Warthog” is not an unreasonable assumption as they are ubiquitous; “Kudu” is quite possible for they too can appear around almost any corner sometimes – on other occasions one would be fortunate to see one! “Zebra” is another favourite choice for they are easy to spot and are generally widespread, whichever entrance one opts for. On this visit we were all wrong, for the first animal to appear next to the road was a … Bushbuck ewe!

Looking back at my various lists of sightings, I can confirm that Bushbuck (Tragelaphus sylvaticus) have not appeared on any of them, so this sighting was a particularly welcoming one. This is probably because these are not herd animals and, as their name implies, prefer being in the bush rather than out in the open. While Bushbuck are browsers, they also eat herbs, twigs and flowers of a large number of plant types. A short drive further on we were privileged to see a pair of Bushbuck rams enjoying the feast of flowers.

Notice its sharp horns and the distinctive pattern of white spots on the flanks and the white markings on its legs. Their bushy tails are white below. The markings are more clearly seen in the image below:

The ewes are smaller and lighter in colour, with more pronounced white spots and stripes. The difference between the male and female are clear in this picture, taken at Royal Natal National Park some time ago:

CELEBRATING THE RHINOCEROUS

You will probably get a glut of information about the current fate of rhinos – wherever they occur. It is a species that is so endangered in the wild that it may be on the road to extinction! I am not going to add to the grim news, but have chosen to use World Rhino Day to celebrate these magnificent creatures.

Many groups, including schools, arrange activities to create awareness about rhinos and collect funds for their protection. The photograph below was printed on t-shirts sold for funds.

In various parts of South Africa recently a Rhino Run was held – people paying to participate in running or walking various distances.

Happy Rhino Day 2018