Monday, June 16, 2008

Social Primates

After finishing what I call a "photo-story", Impi the Impala (there's a preview of the first Chapter on, I'm already busy with a follow-up: Moni the Monkey. The first four photos today are examples of what I've used in my Impi-story, and the last four are meant to feature in my Moni-book. Isn't Moni cute and something very special? (Scroll down to have a peep). I'll "introduce" you to my Impi, and impalas in general, during one of my next blog-entries.

The Vervet monkey is one of only 2 monkey species in South Africa (in contrast to the rest of Africa) - the other is the rarer Samango. The Vervet monkey is common throughout our country, a highly social animal and part of well-organised troops dominated by males.

Vervets have many endearing qualities - doesn't this one (left) express quite a human-like attitude? Amongst some of the features vervets have in common with us, a close (primate) relative, are their 5-fingered limbs and flat finger nails.

Trivia: the Vervet monkey species is 7-8 million years old = at least 6,500 MILLION years older than modern-day human!

Vervet monkeys are known to show (very human-like) emotion, but did you know that they can distinguish certain colours? That cetainly is extraordinary amongst animals. In their case, it's mainly a mechanism to recognise if fruit are green or ripe. Although their diet tends to be omnivorous, vervet monkeys or mostly herbivores.

Although grooming (left) is a necessary function to clear each other of blood-sucking parasites like e.g. ticks, grooming is also a social activity often performed during the "heat of the day" when monkeys, like most animals in the bush, rest after foraging in the morning.

Did you know that monkeys not only groom each other, but also occasionally groom small antelopes, e.g. the Duiker?

When I look at this photo (right) the term "Old World" monkey springs to mind BUT not only in relation to how monkeys as primates are scientifically classified. I think the look in this baby monkey's eyes (face) is "classical" and so "wise beyond its years"!?

As promised above, I introduce (left): Moni the Monkey. I couldn't believe my eyes when what I detected in the distance wasn't a rodent - my first thought at the time. Once I realised that it actually was a "white" monkey youngster and part of a troop, I couldn't (of course!) stop clicking away with my camera. Luckily I was on foot and alone, so nobody and nothing could distract me from having my "fill" = a series of photos of this unusual encounter with an albino monkey.

The idea was born right there and then: the little white monkey was going to feature as the main character in a second "photo-book" = my photos of nature accompanied by a (fictional) story - instead of as just a coffee-table-photo-book.

Yes, the male monkey (left) was about to attack me - and I didn't "read the signals"! In my eagerness to get real-close-and-personal with this troop of monkeys, I forgot the one cardinal rule, which as tourist guide, I always share by way of a warning: never forget that even cute creatures like monkeys are wild animals! Instead I snapped happily away whilst getting too close to the females with their young ones, which I (should) know the males tend to fiercely protect. Just after taking this photo, three snarling males suddenly went on the attack - and I was the perceived threat. At least I kept my cool and slowly backed off backwards, NOT looking them in the eye and trying to crouch to appear smaller.

I won't lie: I got a huge fright!!

No comments: