This baby monkey was left an orphan after his mother was shot in the head with a pellet gun in Forest Drive, La Lucia. He is being looked after by members of Monkey Helpline

Umhlanga residents and an animal rights organisation are still offering a R10 000 reward for the identification of a monkey killer, following the death of a female vervet monkey in the area last month.

The monkey was found writhing in pain on a veranda by a La Lucia resident who called Monkey Helpline. The animal had been shot in the head with a pellet gun, and was dead when assistance arrived.

It was discovered that the monkey had been lactating, but no infant was found until the next day, when another La Lucia resident called the helpline’s Steven Smit, who collected it.

Since the reward – raised by local resident Rose Darral and fellow animal lovers in the area – had been posted, Smit has received reports of at least five other instances of monkeys being shot with pellet guns in the La Lucia and Umhlanga areas. The identity of the initial culprit remains unknown.

Smit said the prevalence of shooting at monkeys was worrying. He said the authorities’ attitude towards such crimes and the ease with which pellet guns could be acquired were contributing factors.

“(Pellet guns) don’t even have to be licensed or stored securely,” said Smit.

“We have had police laugh at us when we have gone to report monkey shootings.

“They are not interested in dealing with it.”

Smit said although monkey shootings were common in the northern suburbs, they were not limited to this area. Other suburbs in the city dealt with similar issues.

The SPCA Durban and Coast’s operations manager, Claire Buisman, said that although they’d had only one call in the past year relating to a monkey shooting, Monkey Helpline took most of the calls in that area, and were aware of the problem.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said that any person caught shooting monkeys would be charged with animal cruelty.