The monkeys – all rescued from the illegal pet trade in Zambia – have been cared for by the specialist rehabilitation team at ZPP for the past year. During the last few months, the vervets have been prepared for life in the wild, with the team adding wild fruits that they would find in the bush to their diets, and introducing the individuals to each other so that they could establish a hierarchy within the release troop.
Last week, after a final health screening to ensure they were healthy and not carrying diseases that could be transferred to wild monkeys, the veterinary team deemed them fit for release, and they were driven to the release site in Kafue National Park, and transferred to a temporary bush enclosure to acclimatise to their new environment. They will be released fully into the wild in early January, and monitored by the team for a full year, to help them transition to freedom after many years in captivity.
Dr Cheryl Mvula MBE, ZPP Senior Technical Advisor, said: “The successful rehabilitation of this troop after many years on the ends of chains in illegal captivity represents a huge achievement by the team at ZPP, and we are extremely happy to report this success.
“In just a few weeks this troop will be living independently, but for the time being they are getting used to the sights and sounds of the wild from the safety of their bush enclosure. Here we will complete predator avoidance training, to prepare them for the dangers of snakes, birds of prey and leopard. Four of the adults have been fitted with radio collars, which will enable our team to track and support the troop for the first 12 months of life back in the wild.”
For regular updates on the progress of the troop’s release back to the wild visit www.facebook.com/ZambiaPrimateProject
Image: ©️ Blake McGrow