Our acquittance with Vervet monkeys in Harare started with friends telling us that they were lucky to have the frequent visit of a troop of vervets in their garden that they enjoyed very much. We felt mild envy but there was not much we could do. Their house is about one km from ours and located in a less populated and wooded area.
We forgot about monkeys until one day last year when, to our delight, a monkey was spotted in our garden. The original sighting was done by Stephen, our caretaker, and we were soon searching for the primates up our trees.
Of course, we found them eating our passion fruits, behind our backs! They had climbed the first step of the ladder!
We forgave their sins as they were nice to watch! However, as often happens, soon they reached the second step that consisted of opening dozens of seven-year bean pods only to eat a few of them. This produced a change of mood among the humans of the household and instructions were passed around (by my wife, the serious gardener) that the monkeys should be “discouraged” from being in the garden! The method to be used was left often and it fell on Stephen to decide. As he is, I am afraid, is softer than my wife, I imagine that he only shouted and ran after them!
The monkey caught with the camera trap.
Despite the soft methods employed to keep them at bay, a period of relative calm ensued and we were all happy sharing the garden in harmony. Soon, however, with the progress of the dry season, the monkeys accelerated their climb up the ladder going through the avocados, the guavas and even the tomatoes! This was the situation when we left Harare in late January but we believed that the advent of the rains had re-established acceptable human-monkey interactions but, as usual, we were off the mark…
Yesterday (5 February 2016) we learnt that the “status quo” was broken and that the monkeys had reached the very top of the ladder: they had destroyed the weaver nests killing the fledgelings and they were taking bites from Stephen’s butternuts. The weavers had just moved into the garden this year and the butternuts are highly appreciated for our pasta sauce! This was indeed a very serious escalation and, during the phone conversation between my wife and Stephen I could not help overhearing the exchange of unusually strong adjectives as well as one name: catapult!
I trust that a new equilibrium will be found before there is bloodshed…