, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 171–179 | Cite as

Assessment of the release of rehabilitated vervet monkeys into the Ntendeka Wilderness Area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a case study

  • Amanda J. Guy
  • Olivia M. L. Stone
  • Darren Curnoe
Original Article


In South Africa, vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) are frequently persecuted, resulting in large numbers of injured and/or orphaned animals. Rehabilitation centres aim to care for these monkeys and ultimately return them to the wild whenever possible. However, it is unknown whether rehabilitation is successful in its goal of creating wild-living, independent, self-sustaining troops due to limited published research in this area. This study describes the release and subsequent fate of a troop of rehabilitated vervet monkeys over a 6-month period. A troop of 16 monkeys was released into the Ntendeka Wilderness Area, a protected part of Ngome Forest, by the WATCH (Wild Animal Trauma Centre and Haven) rehabilitation centre in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Monitoring data were evaluated with regard to survival, mortality, suitability of the release site, breeding, condition, troop composition, behaviour, group dynamics, ranging patterns and the effectiveness of monitoring tools. The release was considered to be a partial success in that the troop exhibited behaviour, group dynamics and ranging patterns similar to wild conspecifics. However, the survival rate was low and the troop was judged to be non-self-sustaining. The main problems identified were the limited lifetimes of radio collars, which resulted in missing animals and caused monitoring to be cut short, illegal hunting activities, predation and a small troop size with few adults. The authors recommend improvements that may increase success, such as retaining troops in release enclosures for longer periods, releasing a larger troop with more adults that more closely matches wild troop composition, selecting a release site at least 3 km from the nearest human settlement and the use of GPS collars to allow for a longer monitoring period encompassing all seasonal conditions. Furthermore, all primates for release should be medically screened so as to avoid potential negative impacts on wild populations.


Conservation Rehabilitation Reintroduction South Africa Vervet monkey 



Many thanks to Bruce and Sandi Cronk of the WATCH rehabilitation centre for collecting the data and answering numerous questions in relation to this study. Thank you to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for collating and providing data for this study, and to the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia for access to facilities and financial support.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda J. Guy
    • 1
  • Olivia M. L. Stone
    • 1
  • Darren Curnoe
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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