Vervet Monkey Foundation – Outstanding Accomplishments
The Vervet Monkey Foundation in the Letaba District is South Africa's biggest monkey rehabilitation center. Caring for a large number of indigenous Vervet monkeys, it helps many orphaned and injured monkeys. The Vervet Monkey Foundation has become known throughout the world for the volunteer program that it runs. In 2005 the foundation was made a member of the Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance (PASA), an outstanding step for them.
The Letaba District’s Vervet Monkey Foundation had its beginnings back in 1989. It was in this year that 3 compassionate South Africans decided to take action in rescuing Vervet monkeys from their plight. Their concerns for the Vervet Monkeys were heightened when a farm employee gave them an orphaned monkey to care for. They approached the correct authorities to discover what is done with such monkeys. The group was told that the law categorized Vervet Monkeys as vermin and that they were to be killed. As great animal-lovers and environmentalists they came to the conclusion that an organization should be formed to provide these little primates with a sanctuary and to research the situation of these animals in South Africa. As the group gained greater knowledge and experience with the Vervet monkeys they realised that there had not been much data gathered on the species and that what was available was negative, inaccurate and incomplete. Due to this the species had come to be viewed in a very bad light.
After carefully considering the situation of Vervet Monkeys in South Africa they began researching how to develop a rehabilitation program for orphaned and injured monkeys. Unfortunately, the authorities did not agree with the 3 and they had to go about their activities in a clandestine fashion. They gathered further information on Vervet Monkey ethology (behavior) and rallied support. From 1991 onward they began establishing a sanctuary and implementing the research program. They began working closely with Rita Miljo who had a rehabilitation project with baboons in Phalaborwa. This gave them the necessary experience. Following years of struggles with the authorities, the Vervet Monkey Foundation was issued a permit on 1 November 1997. The foundation has taken the lead with regards to primate rehabilitation in several respects, including enclosure design. Their present-day sanctuary is operated in the Letaba district on Gravelotte road, just 21 km from Tzaneen. It cares for some 40-60 baby monkeys and 30-60 juveniles and adults every year. The services of volunteers and the donations of kind-hearted individuals ensure the continuation of this excellent project. Be sure to stop by the Vervet Monkey Foundation when touring the area.