Culling of vervet monkeys at KZN conservancy angers residents
Durban - The culling of six vervet monkeys in Ashburton by a member of the KZN Provincial Legislature has angered residents living in the Lower Mpushini Valley Conservancy (LMVC) which is a protected area.
Residents believe that the monkeys should be protected along with the wildlife in the area which includes kudu, nyala, impala, bushbuck, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, leopard, jackal and karakul.
Pandora Long, the chairperson of the Conservancy which is situated in Ashburton East just outside Pietermaritzburg, condemned the killing of the monkeys within the conservation area in March.
In an April report on the culling by the LMVC, Long said this was the first incident of the killing of Vervet monkey that the Conservancy was aware of in the Lower Mpushini Valley.
The report found that a subsistence farmer had been experiencing issues with three troops of monkeys towards the end of 2019 that were damaging her property, stealing food set out for her domestic animals, stripping the vegetable garden and breaking plants.
Long said the farmer did not raise her issues with the conservancy which was supported by various volunteers, experts and associated organisations.
“We employ a full-time game guard and communication structures within the conservancy are well established with members being in daily contact regarding in particular anti-poaching patrols and any issues that arise,” she said.
The farmer contacted the KZN Hunting, Shooting and Conservation Association for help and Councillor Heinz De Boer, who is a member of the association was asked to assist.
KZN Hunters Association CEO Chris Jennings confirmed that De Boer is a member of the association
Jennings said the culling was conducted under the authority of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, who are the legislated custodians of wildlife in KZN.
He said the association had a memorandum of agreement(MOA) with Ezemvelo with regards to assistance with problem or damage causing animal control within KwaZulu-Natal.
“It is very clear in the MOA as to the roles and responsibilities of both parties,” said Jennings
Jennings further explained that the Association received calls on a regular basis for assistance with wildlife management matters.
De Boer said the cull was sanctioned by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and conducted in accordance with all relevant legal regulations set in the KZN Nature Conservation Ordinance at the request of the landowner who have suffered extensive damage due to monkeys.
The councillor said he has had extensive discussions regarding the cull with the Conservancy, and other relevant parties and was sensitive and understanding to the points of view of everyone.
“Importantly I welcome the Conservancy's proposed study into the Vervet Monkey population and how human/wildlife conflicts and potential prevention of crop and livestock destruction can be avoided,” said De Boer.
Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said after KZN Wildlife was approached by the property owner she was advised of the legal status of monkeys on the property and that there were no permits necessary for the destruction of monkeys on private land.
Mntambo explained that monkeys are naturally occurring wild mammals which were not listed in the various schedules in terms of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 15/1974 and therefore not protected in terms of the legislation.
“The discretion rests with the landowner provided that he/she observes other relevant legislation,” he said.
Mntambo said SAPS laws on the carrying and discharge of weapons in urban and built-up areas area’s needs to be considered where proposed culling, shooting is to take place.
“Monkeys are known to be problematic damage causing animals in certain circumstances and do come into conflict with farmers and urban households.”
This is a problem that occurs throughout the province and is not specific to the Ashburton area said Mntambo.
He said problem animals could be trapped but monkeys are intelligent and soon avoid traps so the efficiency of a trap only works for a short time.
“There is a shortage of release sites in KZN therefore this poses a problem when animals are caught with the intention of releasing them,” he said.
With regard to the possibility of monkeys being declared protected in future Mntambo said that KZN Wildlife does contribute to the provincial environmental and wildlife legislative framework.
“The legislation is reviewed periodically and where necessary recommendations and changes are made, which is often guided by the conservation status of a species.”