File picture - Criminal charges will be laid against two East Rand veterinarians for allegedly butchering a Vervet monkey, the National SPCA said. Photo: Jennifer Bruce

Fed-up Durban people are shooting vervet monkeys with pellet guns because they are “causing havoc” in residential areas by stealing their food and, in some cases, even attacking them.

In an attempt to improve the relationship between people and monkeys, the eThekwini municipality’s natural resources department hosted a Monkey Business Workshop at the Botanic Gardens on Thursday.

A presentation by Kerry Easson, of the Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Durban North, revealed that, in the first two months of the year, about 200 vervet monkeys had been rescued and treated for injuries sustained from pellet guns, dog bites, electrocution, snares and being run over by cars.

The workshop was the first of four that will be held around the city in an attempt to find solutions to the problem of monkeys living in the urban environment. Contributions to the workshops will be used to draw up a monkey management plan for Durban.

Monkeys were protected by national and provincial animal conservation legislation, said Monkey Helpline co-ordinator Steve Smit. The monkeys were not the problem; rather, people were, he said.

Smit argued that the primates were misunderstood and did not attack people or pets unless there was an immediate threat to their safety or one of their troop.

“We are not saying people should love monkeys, but we are saying they should understand them,” he said.

Irate Durban resident Mary de Haas said she had to pay more than R2 000 to repair damage by monkeys to the roof guttering of her home and wendy house.

“I know a lot of people who have had to spend money fixing damage by monkeys to their property,” she said.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Nature Conservation officer Bongani Zondi said: “We respond to a lot of calls by members of the Durban community with regards to the monkey problem, but we can only advise and refer people to the two monkey rehabilitation centres available here in Durban.”

Some of the suggested solutions at the workshop included monkey feeding stations, rehabilitation of habitat for monkeys and educating people about monkeys.

Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, director of the eThekwini municipality’s natural resources department, said that after the workshops there would be a special session with the city’s leaders to work out a systematic way forward that would include setting up education programmes.