Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What's it Like Where I Live? {Vervet Monkey Photos!}

About once a week we get a visit from one of the many local troops of vervet monkeys that inhabit the limited bushland around us.  Due to urban development their habitat has shrunk so much that they are forced to scavenge the neighbourhoods & it is not uncommon for them to sneak into houses through open doors or windows in search of food, especially fruit.
They make a racket as they scamper down from the hibiscus bushes, bound over the garden shed roof & end up outside on our verandah!  They seem to come from other directions too, all in one foul swoop, like a carefully planned, military SWAT operation, before you know it, you are surrounded by around a dozen of them at any one time!

I don't know much about them - only that they are cute - and harmless if left alone & not provoked.
We save up old fruit for them & keep it under the sink, knowing that within the week they will appear & be grateful for our meagre offerings.
Since redecorating inside a bit, and moving this bowl of gourds outside onto the patio, it has been a great source of interest to them.
Obviously they can smell that these decorations at one time were edible!

Watching them is utterly charming & I look forward to their visits & miss them if they stay away too long.
Something very simple but profoundly life-changing that I have learnt through my photography course, is to keep my camera OUT, ACCESSIBLE, and with the lens-cap OFF.  Believe me, you grab it a lot more often!
Of course there is really very little time to faff about changing settings & checking up on how the shots are looking  It's simply a case of clicking as often as you can & as close as you can get.
Caution must be exercised - these are wild animals after all - but an apple & a banana go a long way toward increasing the length of their stay.

Generally the vervet monkey population are viewed with disdain here, like they are the "intruders" when quite the opposite is true.  Kids at schools are put into detention for stoning them...luuuurvely...wonder where they learn that from?  Parents of course...
February is the time for babies & they are undeniably adorable.  The mothers carry them about & can often be observed breastfeeding them.
My kids love them & start shrieking with glee when they arrive, which, as you can imagine, is rather counter-productive, so it's all a bit crazy when the monkeys are around :)

Their tails are incredibly long & are their rudders, their hooks & their anchors combined.  They move through the foliage with amazing speed & dexterity thanks to the strength & versatility of their tails.
As we have never shown any aggession towards the monkeys, they are happy (though anxious) to wait a while for their grub & indulge me with some antics for my photographs.
This chappie looks almost lost in thought & reverie!
They can't help but raise a smile with the inredible similarities of their mannerisms to those of human beings.

These few are the young boys of the group & are the most entertaining & mischievous.
They get up to hilarious antics that have everyone stifling laughter for fear of being reprimanded by the one with the camera in hand - me! - who demands silence!!
Our cats enjoy teasing them & here they are looking on amazed as Chives, our kitten, rolls around on the floor for their amusement (safely on the other side of the glass sliding-door!)
They like "doggy-piling" & jostling each other, which is incredibly funny to watch...

They make themselves quite at home sitting on our outside chairs like miniature humans...
For some reason they examine everything they are eating very carefully indeed.

I feel so sorry for them - it's like they are really savouring every little bite, as if they never know when their next meal will be...
I roughly chop the fruit into bits but inevitably there are the greedy ones that manage to grab something in each hand :)

And then those that get stuck with the skins (which they don't eat)
Here are some interesting facts for anyone who would like to know more.

Some more information here.
I have observed them close up like this for years & never tire of it.
They never overstay their welcome & always seem so grateful for the tidbits we give them.
It's not often they take their eyes off you - and instinctually they think the camera is a gun - it has taken this lot a while to become used to it.
Sometimes you see one or two alone but always the others are never far away.
This is the mum with baby in tow - lots of interesting information on breeding here
Here it looks like she is rolling around relaxing but it appears that she is indicating to her baby that it is feeding time.
Is. this. or. is. this. not. totally. precious?  Suckling babe...
And then a snuggle...right where I eat my dinner every night - incredible...
And just as we were getting to know each other along comes Big Daddy...he shoots down the palm tree just in front of the verandah at an incredible speed, squaking ensues & they're all off, in a mad flurry, clearly reprimanded for "getting too close"...
As they all scamper off, swinging & careening through the high hibiscus bushes Big Daddy waits at the top of the tree to ensure that everyone has left safely, before skulking off to join them.  He is in charge, arrogant & haughty - I never look him directly in the eye or it turns into a stare-out & I worry he may feel threatened & attack me!
And then they are gone...
Until next time...








14 comments:

Amber Branconier said...

they are so cute!!

Vicki said...

Awww they are just so cute. Gorgeous photos Helen.

Heather Jacob said...

wow helen I am in awe of these pics !!!! so special .... what are we humans doing to the world ?? taking over the homes of animals.... so gorgeous of you to leave this food for these little creatures... good on you .... beautiful pics to scrap.. special big hugz to you x

Wishful Thinking said...

Great photos! The monkeys you have there are cuter than the ones here in Malaysia! Absolutely adore that last pic of the baby monkey! His eyes are gorgeous.

Alia said...

Outstanding photos!!!!!!!

Kirsty Vittetoe said...

Very interesting post, I had fun, thanks!

Shayne said...

Gorgeous pics Helen. I know the last time we visited durbs and stayed in Umhlanga we had regular visits from these little munchkins.

Mixed feelings tho about them - do you continue to feed them till they are tame and then take over your garden? So difficult. I hear both sides of the story, so not easy. enjoy them whilst you can!

teacher jessy said...

Wow, that is alot of beautiful photos!! I love the lighting, the composition, just about everything. Well I am born in the year of monkey... LOL!!

Stefanie said...

Love these shots. I can see your photography is developing and I think these are top drawer. Are you using a different lens? or is this merely the result of your photo class?
Gobsmacked!
Thanks.

Gifts By Katherine said...

Oh my goodness, how wonderful. What brilliant photos, I loved them all. Thank you so much for posting,. I'm so happy I found your blog. hugs!

carlies said...

ohh what wonderful the beautiful monkey pictures
so amazing!!!

and have a very wonderful day
big hugs Carla

Bente Fagerberg said...

Those are some very cheaky monkeys I say!!
Gorgeous photos ( I say thet every time now don't I...? Sorry...lol)
I would lobve to see amonket jumping around in y garden although it would not be long lived as the world is covered in ice...blaaaa
Have a great day Helen!!
xx

Pearl said...

just darling these pics are ! Wonderful that they feel are so welcomed in your garden !

Diana said...

Wow I can't believe you got all those great shots of them!
Lovely story to go with the photos too.