As two of our volunteers just left to continue their journey (former Trust-bloggers Tracey Stenson and Tim Jukes), another baby vervet monkey just came in. This baby is even smaller than the first one; approximately 2 weeks old and still in constant need of a surrogate mother holding him tight. He was found left alone just outside the bush, shocked and depressed, somehow abandoned by his mother way too early. After having introduced him successfully to our first baby vervet (about 1,5 months old), he moved into the same cage, and the two of them became friends. They cuddled, groomed each other, and spent the night sleeping in each other’s arms. The smallest baby vervet still has some problems being fed, since he hasn’t learned yet how to suck but to bite and scratch quite hard, but he is now hand-reared every 3 hours together with the other baby vervet, something that has turned out to be a good solution.
The bigger baby Vervet, though, shows good indications of growing independent. Partly, he has started chewing solid food, e.g. watermelon and banana instead of infant milk formula, and if he doesn’t like something you do to him, he truly shows that his teeth are developing. His world is getting bigger and bigger too: yesterday his exploring curiosity took him to new heights, as he climbed halfway up a big Neem tree. Usually, the Vervet mother pinches the baby when it climbs too far away from her, but as we couldn’t reach our baby Vervet he just kept on climbing, until he realized he wanted to get down again, which apparently wasn’t as easy as climbing up… We got him down by holding a long branch (with a piece of banana on top if it) so close to him that he could grab it. He even proved his bravery by mocking with Nala – the cat of the house, twice his size – a situation that resulted in Nala being chased away, surrendering.
However, it is a lot to do for the two volunteers that are left. The two babies need constant looking after and to be carried around and held, and at the same time there are regular tasks, like giving eco-tours for the tourists, keep on de-snaring and other field projects. We strongly feel the need of more volunteers joining us as currently there is a lot to do at the Trust. Fortunately, a couple living here in Diani just gave the information that they are going to adopt the two baby Vervets and build a rehabilitation cage in their garden for them.
Anna Sandahl, Filip Celander, Colobologists