Our potential release troop of vervet monkeys have now been observed since April and over the last couple of months our Primate Release Manager, Amanda Harwood, has been getting to know her new release troop since finishing up with the 2015 released baboons.
The troop of 23 vervet monkeys are proving to be a tight knit group who are well prepared for their imminent release to Kasungu National Park in just a few weeks’ time! Amongst them we have a couple of healthy and playful youngsters, so it will be incredibly rewarding to see them go out into the wild at such a young age, set to have a truly wild life ahead of them!
And we even have a born protector… Adult male Bart has self-appointed himself the lookout for the troop, always on guard in case of any danger. He takes his job very seriously and though he’s had a relatively easy job of late (being safe and sound at LWC!), it is super promising for when they get out into the bush.
The rest all have their individual ranks within the troop, just like any wild troop, so we are confident in their group cohesion and their survival instincts.
CHOOSING A RELEASE SITE
Daniel Grove, the Operations Manager for the release is already up in Kasungu NP getting the camp and release site ready for the arrival of the parks newest inhabitants. With several factors to consider when choosing a release site, a lot of work goes into finding a suitable area such as transects, habitat assessments and population surveys. We want to be certain that they have the best possible opportunity to thrive in the wild!
Some of the necessary checkpoints include:
- Permanent water source (especially for use in the dry season)
- Sleeping site – tall trees to avoid predators
- Fruiting trees and plenty of other food sources
- Other vervet troops in the area so that males can disperse from their natal troop, BUT not too many to ensure resource competition is low and each has enough space for their home range.
A release enclosure will be ready and waiting for the troop at the chosen release site, which they will remain in for 1-2 weeks while they acclimate to their new surroundings and environment and once we feel that they are ready, we will open the doors to their new life of freedom!
POST RELEASE MONITORING
Our work doesn’t finish when the monkeys are out… Amanda and her team will be following the troop from dawn till dusk for many months conducting research on their behaviour, cohesion and quality of life out in the wild.
By doing this we aim to contribute to a body of fundamental research on the extent to which these animals are able to adapt to life in the wild and how it contributes to their welfare compared to a life in captivity. It’s tiring days for the team but also great to be able to witness the animals is a natural, wild home!
AND… A NEW VEHICLE!
A big thanks to the Jean Sainsbury Animal Welfare Trust who have sponsored a new vehicle to the Primate Release team who will be cruising in their new wheels very soon! Isn’t she a beaut!