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Guide for Human Monkey conflicts

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Conflict between Human Primates and Non-Human Primates: Vervet Monkeys (or Baboons)

Resist the temptation to feed the monkeys: If they come too close, keep direct eye contact with them and shoo them away. No attempts to touch them please.

Leave the monkeys alone. Teasing and touching them will only encourage them to stay around humans, which will defeat all the hard work of many years to hand-raise them and then wean them from human contact.

Keep eye contact and never turn your back on them. Hold their gaze and show them that they are not welcome near you, shoo them away with noise and body gestures. They won’t attack you from the front because they are intelligent enough to know that you are more powerful and stronger than them. Opportunistic as they are, they will only approach you when you turn your back on them and walk away.

Transferring males may choose to stay around humans for a while due to their confusion following having to leave their troop of birth when reaching sexual maturity. They are merely on the lookout for another monkey troop to join. Do not shoot them please…they are only following Nature’s Call. Nature forces them to do this to avoid inbreeding. They will move on again, usually after 2-4 weeks if not fed!

Dealing with Vervet-related “problems” 

If Vervets visiting your property is a problem to you, make every effort not to leave any food around that will encourage their presence and make them less cautious of humans.  This applies both inside and outside your home.  For example:

  • If you feed the wild birds in your garden try to do so at random times so that there is no routine that the Vervets can get accustomed to, otherwise they will be waiting for you at your bird table each day especially in winter months.
  • Vervets will enter homes to eat fruit and other food kept on counters, sideboards, tables, etc. Keep fruit and other food concealed when Vervets are about.
  • If your house is left unattended, doors and windows should be kept closed or only slightly ajar so as to prevent Vervets from gaining access. Windows fitted with mesh or insect-proof screens will keep Vervets out but still allow air circulation.
  • If you are having a children’s party or run a crèche or day-care centre and the children are given food, sweets or biscuits outdoors, ensure that adults are present to discourage Vervets from harassing the children for their eats. If there are Vervets in the vicinity it is advisable that, where practical, the children finish eating indoors before going outside. Edible leftovers should be cleared away as soon as possible so that Vervets are not attracted to the garden whilst the children are playing there.
  • Dog food left over after the dog has eaten, or which is left out all day, may attract Vervets. Feeding your cats and dogs during night times is the solution, as Vervets aren’t nocturnal.

How to deal with an “unwanted” Vervet presence

  • Use your hosepipe to squirt them. You can reach them on your roof, in the trees and at a distance when they are on the ground. They hate being hosed and will run away
  • A water pistol or squirt bottle aimed and squirted at the monkeys inside or close to your house is very effective, add vinegar for an unpleasant smell.
  • Vervets are easily shooed away simply by walking towards them and waving a small towel, dishcloth or other similar item.   Don’t be intimidated if they stand their ground and threaten you.  They will turn tail and flee as you get closer!
  • Monkeys are naturally wary of snakes, so realistic rubber snakes placed around your home or garden can discourage them. Don’t leave a rubber snake in the same spot too long otherwise the Vervets will get used to its immobility and ignore it. Attach a length of thin nylon or string to the snake and tug it into “motion” when the Vervets are close to it.
  • Pointing a gun-like object at them will usually send them scurrying away. A shot fired upwards into the air will help too.
  • Dogs can be a deterrent to Vervets. However, if a dog does actually catch a Vervet this could result in very serious injury to the dog and Vervet. Dogs should be trained not to physically attack the Vervets.
  • Vervets fear men more than they do women, so, wherever possible the Vervets should be chased away by men.
  • One or two strands of electric fencing are effective in keeping Vervets out of gardens, homes and crops. This is very easy to install.
  • Insect-proof screens on windows and doors serve an additional function of keeping Vervets out of homes. Plastic mesh on windows and security doors/gates is also easily fitted and very effective.
  • Vervets have very keen senses of taste and smell. They can be discouraged from eating fruit, flowers and vegetables by spraying or brushing these with a liquid containing quinine, chili, insect or pet repellant or any other distasteful but non-lethal substance that can be washed off. Dry curry, chili or tobacco powder also works well in flower/vegetable beds. Vet product: AVERT or Aloe juices.
  • Prevent foraging in refuse bins by securing the lids with a convenient but Vervet-proof clip or strap. Sprinkle Jeyes Fluid inside, on the outside or around refuse bins and bags. Refuse skips covered with shade cloth and treated with Jeyes Fluid will deter Vervets.
  • Vervets are easily chased out of fruit or access trees by installing a burglar alarm siren in the tree and activating it when the Vervets are there. This can prevent Vervets using the tree to gain access to a roof, upper window or another tree, and can protect fruit and flowers.
  • Use nylon bird or hail netting over and around vegetable, strawberry and other produce to keep Vervets out.
  • Tin cans containing a few stones and tied at intervals along a length of string which is laid through a garden and attached to a fixed point, then yanked hard when the monkeys are close, will chase monkeys out of a vegetable garden or flower bed as the cans leap noisily into the air.
  • A piece of hose, with holes in it, swung around whilst advancing towards Vervets will frighten them away.
  • Clear grease smeared onto overhead wires, along the tops of boundary walls and fences, on down-pipes, well-used branches and poles will discourage Vervets from using these to gain access to areas such as your roof, balcony, etc.
  • Where Vervets easily use overhead telephone or other wires to gain access to roofs, fit a length of hard plastic piping around the wire at the point where the Vervets access it. As they put weight on the plastic pipe it rolls around the wire making it impossible for them to climb across it.


Vervet monkeys are protected by both National and Provincial Conservation Legislation and National Animal Protection Legislation. Thereby, injuring or killing them is an offence! A fine of 25000R and/or jail time is enforceable for the illegal shooting of our indigenous primate.

Vervet monkeys are NOT classified as “vermin” nor “breeding out of control” nor is there a “population explosion”.

They do NOT attack people or pets!  Vervets will threaten any person or other animal they regard as an immediate threat to their safety or that of a fellow troop member. These threats are merely defensive aggression and are intended only to warn off a possible aggressor and are not carried through to an actual attack. Vervets do not attack but they will bite in self-defence if they are attacked.  Concerns that Vervets will bite children who encounter them in the garden or home are unfounded. Thousands of children experience close encounters with Vervets in KZN every day – none get bitten!

Occasionally due to young Vervets’ social behaviour of playing the “catch-game” amongst each other, they sometimes extend this play with young children. This involves displaying a jump against the child, possibly leaving a scratch or nip on the child’s skin. For Vervets this contact is an encouragement and invite to play. [Vervets do not know about the impact of their sharp canines or finger nails on a young child’s skin!]
They mean no harm.

They do NOT transmit disease!  Fears that Vervets are carriers of rabies or other infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans are unfounded. There has never been a recorded case of a rabid Vervet.  This can be confirmed by the State Vet.

NB. Pellet guns and catapults are a scourge – Vervets shot with pellets rarely die instantly. Instead the pellets cause injuries that result in a slow and agonizing death over days and weeks.  Stones, steel or lead balls, marbles, etc., shot at monkeys with a catapult cause severe and life threatening injuries such as smashed eyes and broken bones. It is illegal, unnecessary and very cruel – DON’T DO IT!!!


• They are an integral part of the natural food chain in parts of Africa
• They provide natural insect control by eating the eggs and larvae of many species
• They provide natural finch control, thereby preventing the demise of the grasslands
• They assist in the germination, pollination and dispersal of various floras, they are part of the natural food chain
• Their messy eating habits distribute food from high places to the ground for ground feeding animals.

Enjoy the privilege of watching Monkeys in their natural environment!

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