An assessment of the problem of vervet monkeys in the former Westville Borough : management implications.
MetadataShow full item record
Urbanisation, a process occurring at an excessive rate per annum, has implications for the natural environment that are vast and varied. One of the most significant is the effect on natural habitats, shaped by habitat destruction and modification. The simplification of ecosystems, homogenisation of landscapes and influence on keystone species are a few impacts on indigenous fauna existing in these habitats. Some species are unable to withstand external disturbances, while other species are more adaptable, and often thrive in these modified, and now optimal, environments. Increasingly, provisions are made to accommodate nature in an urbanising world with tools like Impact Assessments and Opens Space Systems. These procedures however, do little to specifically protect indigenous fauna, progressively categorised as "problem animals" or vermin, like monkeys, which often bear the brunt of attacks by humans who see them as a nuisance and a threat to their well-being. The study therefore aimed to "Assess the nature and extent of the monkey problem in the former Westville Borough", a suburb in the city of Durban, South Africa. Questionnaires administered to residents and interviews done with stakeholders documented their views on the "monkey problem," and the effectiveness of proposed solutions in alleviating these problems. Using orthographic photographs, illustrating land-use change, the rate and nature of habitat destruction experienced in the former Westville Borough between 1974 and 2001 was assessed. Records of injuries to monkeys held by the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), along with letters of complaint regarding monkeys in local newspapers, were collected to assess the nature and frequency of the problem. Resident's opinions implied that the threat of Vervet Monkeys was more perceived then real. Eighty three percent thought monkeys were not a threat to humans. Education and awareness campaigns were thought to be successful in alleviating the problem by 86% of residents and 100% of interviewees. Residents believed that "everyone" should be responsible for the problem while interviewees were divided in opinion but placed most responsibility on local government. An assessment of land-use changed showed a decrease of over 15% in open space provision over a twenty six year period. CROW records showed that the majority of monkey injuries were due to assault or shooting and most often to males between the months of April and July. Conclusions based on the findings of the study emphasise the need for stronger legislation specifically for Vervets and detailed guidelines on both management of and responsibility for the monkeys, with less shifting of blame by stakeholders and authorities. The implementation of education and awareness programs were also advocated, to educate the public on the problem and their role in protecting one of Africa's most valuable assets.