8 October 2010
Life changed dramatically for two little vervet monkeys in Malawi’s capital city this week. They were being sold on the side of the road in two different areas of the city when the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre team was alerted to their whereabouts. With the help of the police, one of the roadside sellers was tracked down and the baby was confiscated. The next day the second baby was also found. Dehydrated, hungry and weak, the babies were taken to a foster home by two of our volunteers. The poor little things were terrified, clinging onto the volunteer’s clothing and making lots of high-pitched squeaks. At the foster home, the orphaned vervets will receive all the care that they so desperately need after such a traumatic start to life. At first, they will need bottle-feeding every hour, however this will gradually reduce as they grow. They also need regular contact, so in the absence of a suitable vervet surrogate mother, it is vital that they receive this care from a human to ensure their survival. Once they are down to 2 feeds a day they will be ready to leave the foster home and be integrated into one of the vervet troops at the Wildlife Centre for release back into the wild in the future.
These two little boys are lucky that they have each other, as not only will they have a friend to play with at their foster home, but it will also make the integration process much easier on both of them. Everyone here at the Wildlife Centre is looking forward to their arrival, especially our volunteer team, where help is needed with the twice daily bottle-feeding and behavioral observations of the integration. We will be crossing our fingers that two of the older vervet females will accept the babies and look after them until they are independent.
For more information on volunteering at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, please visit www.lilongwewildlife.org/volunteer.htm
by Zara Morris-Trainor