The latest update from our Primate Release Manager, Amanda Harwood, on the 2016 vervet release in Kasungu National Park:
This year’s vervet release is now officially underway! After two weeks of acclimating to their new environment inside a release enclosure, our troop of 22 vervet monkeys were let out of their final enclosure and into their new wild home in Kasungu National Park. Most of the vervets left the enclosure quite quickly, while some of the younger monkeys hung back hesitantly. Once all 22 were out of the enclosure, they all bounced happily around the trees. Since those first moments, all of the vervets have been doing well and healthy. They have been exploring their new habitat and territory, slowly expanding as they days and weeks go by. The whole troop is sticking together tightly when moving through the forest, in awe at the assortment of wild natural foods, including lots of spiders which are everywhere in this part of the forest (much to the annoyance of the research team who have to walk through webs every few feet!). In these early days they are establishing their territory, including scent-marking trees, which is an interesting behavior and physical ability of vervets.
This vervet troop is already experiencing the challenges that come with life in the wild. On just the second day of the release, a martial eagle swooped down in a predation attempt. This martial eagle, one of the largest predatory birds, tried to snatch up the youngest vervet in the troop, 7 month old Baboo, but was fended off by his mother Amy, followed by the rest of the troop led by alpha male Pops. The eagle tried to attack the vervets two more times, but was chased off both times by the alarm calls and aggression by the adult males. Luckily all vervets, including little Baboo, were left unharmed thanks to the whole troops valiant response to their first truly wild bush reality, and we’re all very proud of them.
We have such confidence in this vervet troop and are all excited to see how the vervets continue to explore and fair in their new wild home!