With the vervet monkeys now spending a lot of time out in the open veld to find water in the form of succulents such as Mother-in-laws tongue and wild asparagus roots they have a new territory to explore. This is great for us researchers as we see new areas of the bush. These areas have large, thick shrubs and the shade underneath is the ideal growing environment for the succulents. This means the monkeys spend a lot of time digging to gain their water packed treats.
The downside is that on these roads less traveled there are many, many Devil’s thorn plants which have small seeds covered with sharp little thorns. This makes for very uncomfortable scenes as we watch the poor monkeys struggle to avoid these thorns and have to pull them out their feet with their teeth. In the picture you can see a male on the side pulling a thorn out as all the others try to hop along the rocks to avoid a similar fate. As the monkeys use these routes more and more to feed eventually the thorns will diminish in number and they can move more freely but for now every step results in a wince and a swift thorn removal.
Until next time,
Chris 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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