Tag Archives: Vervet Monkey

Satara Summer 2021 – Primate Romps

Every visitor to a game reserve in South Africa knows the “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” that are elicited during an encounter with the continent’s wild primates. These close cousins of ours are always a joy to watch, even if they can be quite naughty (especially when they’ve learned that humans equal feeding opportunities, so please don’t feed them). We were delighted to see some very large troops of Chacma Baboons around Satara during our visit in December 2021.

This of course presented wonderful opportunities to enjoy all their antics, and often from very close up!

The way they care for their babies is probably one of the most endearing characteristics about Chacma Baboons, even if the babies will struggle to win the baby photo competition at the local pharmacy…

Speaking about mothers and babies immediately brings to mind this loving mother Vervet Monkey and her young baby that we saw near Satara on the S100.

Of course, this is a very different side of the Vervet’s character from the pestering we witnessed them dish out to a pair of Water Thick-knees!



Satara Summer 2021 – Vervets versus Dikkoppe

Mazithi Dam is a man-made watering hole 10km north of Tshokwane Picnic Site in the Kruger National Park. It is a magnet for wildlife and there is always something of interest to see there. When we arrived at Mazithi around 2pm on the 19th of December, a troop of Vervet Monkeys had just raided the nest of a pair of Water Dikkoppe, aka Water Thick-knees. The birds and primates were in a tense standoff at the water’s edge with the monkeys mostly having the upper hand, although the birds put up a very brave show.


I’ll grow up my way…

If there’s any good advise experienced parents can give newly expecting ones, it is that none of the thousands of parenting guide-books on the bookstore shelves will apply to your child 100%. You have to find what works for you, and go with it – your kid will turn out just fine.

The same seems true in the animal kingdom.

This afternoon while having lunch at Mpila in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, we noticed this mother Vervet Monkey and her baby coming past in a most unconventional manner. Normally the newly born babies would hang below the moms tummy, within easy reaching distance of her mammary glands. This little one however clung to the fur on his mom’s behind with all his might, and it obviously hurts her to quite some degree, as she regularly took him off and gave him a harsh hiding, to which he then responded with a terrible tantrum, screaming to high heaven until she relents and he gets back onto her buttocks. It was such a funny sight, and if she was human I would have given her a knowing wink of the eye in sympathy.

Just in case you were wondering, this is the more usual way female Vervet Monkeys carry their babies; an example from another mom in the same troop that walked past our accommodation unit.



Vervet Monkey

Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Along with the Chacma Baboon, the Vervet Monkey must be South Africa’s best known indigenous primate. Male Vervets are considerable stronger built than the females, weighing in at an average of 6kg compared to females at 4kg. Including their tail, Vervet Monkeys are usually just over a meter long.

Vervet Monkeys inhabit coastal and mountain forests, woodland, bushveld, riverine thickets, and adjacent grasslands. They’ve adapted to suburban living in many of our towns and cities, and they’ll even forage in plantations and on beaches, provided there is sufficient natural vegetation nearby. Access to drinking water is a crucial habitat requirement for them. Vervet Monkeys follow an extremely wide diet, feeding on fruits and berries, seeds, pods, flowers, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree gum, grass, herbs, spiders and scorpions, snails, insects, eggs and small birds, other small vertebrates, and even marine organisms. Unfortunately they also quickly learn that humans are an easy source of food, either through deliberate feeding or irresponsible discarding of food waste, and can then become a dangerous nuisance.

A highly gregarious species, Vervet Monkeys live in troops numbering from 8 to 140 members (usually around 25) made up of a dominant male, several other males, females (who have their own pecking order) and their young. Troop members have strong bonds of friendship and alliances with others of similar status in the group. Vervets are diurnal, being most active in the morning and afternoon and resting in the midday heat. At night they sleep huddled in small groups in high trees or on inaccessible cliffs. They spend about an equal amount of time foraging in the trees and on the ground.

Female Vervet Monkeys give birth to a single baby – twins are very rare – at any time of the year, though most babies arrive in the spring or summer when food is more abundant, after a 7 month pregnancy. All troop members are very protective of the little ones. Females may live their entire lives in the troop they were born in, while males leave their maternal group at the age of about 4 years to join other troops, staying on average about 3 years with a troop before moving along to another again. Leopards, smaller wild cats, large raptors and pythons are the biggest predators of Vervet Monkeys, which can live to between 12 and 24 years old in the wild.

The Vervet Monkey occurs in a wide band from Somalia and Ethiopia in the north to South Africa, where they are found in all provinces and most of our conservation areas, though their occurrence in the arid west and open central parts of the country is restricted to major riverine arteries. They are regarded as a pest in farming communities and in suburbs, but being a widespread and abundant species the IUCN lists the Vervet Monkey as “Least Concern”.


Caring for a new generation: Vervet monkey female and baby bonding through fun and games, as seen in Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park. I think it’s clear from the expression on the little one’s face how much he’s enjoying their play!?