Being a Verveteer on Samara (the term used to describe the Vervet monkey researchers) isn’t just about spending hours and hours with the Vervets. It also leads you to encounter other wildlife.
This week I had the chance to witness two different predation attempts. The first one was with a Black-backed jackal, a land predator, who tried to catch one of the 3-year-old juveniles as they were feeding in an open area. I was surprised at how close the jackal got to the juvenile before he suddenly ran for a tree.
The jackal ran away after his vain (but still close) attempt, while the monkeys stayed up in the trees for a few minutes. This is a typical land predator reaction – getting high off the ground so that they can get a better view of the threat.
The second predation attempt involved a Cape cobra. The snake moved through the group, causing the monkeys to make their snake alarm call. The typical response to this call is for the monkeys to become bipedal (standing on their hind legs) to get a better view of the snake. One of the 2-month-old infants was sitting at the base of a tree when the cobra spotted it and went for it. The snake started rising up with its hood out but the mother grabbed her infant just in time and went high enough into the tree to get out of the cobra’s reach.
A week like this full of close calls shows how reactive and attentive the monkeys need to be to survive.
Until next time,
Chloe and the Verveteers
The Vervet Monkey research project is a collaboration between a number of international universities. The project has been based at Samara Private Game Reserve in the Great Karoo since 2008. The aim of the project is to investigate the adaptations of these fascinating monkeys to climatic changes.
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