It’s a good job I don’t mind my clothes getting dirty when I’m out here. Feeding the Vervet Monkeys involves having milk spilled onto me from their bottles, and then bits of grape skin being spat out as they only like the flesh. If they are sitting on my lap or shoulders this of course means that it’s dropped onto me. They leap all around their cage and that includes springing off our shoulders or heads. They are really lightweight though and can easily sit in the palm of a hand. The only thing that makes me jump a little is if a tail brushes my head, as I always wonder whether it is a tail or something rather more unpleasant! So far I have been weed upon three times! One of the monkeys who is called Blue, was hand reared from a tiny baby, and loves human cuddles. She always come to sit on a lap and snuggles in during and after her feed, and when she looks up at me with huge brown eyes my heart melts. She used to be on her own, hence living with humans, but now has two other orphans so is mostly in an enclosure with them. If they are to have any chance of being released then we need to wean them off human comfort, but I suspect that if they are released, Blue may be like Salt & Pepper, the porcupines, and choose to hang around.
The enclosure that we are building is much bigger than the one they are currently in, as they are still too young to be released. I’m hoping that we will have it finished whilst I’m here so that we can see them in it. Previous volunteers have built a couple of shelters and wooden bridges for them, as well as hanging up a couple of old tyres from the trees that are inside, so they will have plenty of fun in there.
We needed to finish some welding to make T shapes to hold down the grid that surrounds the outside of the enclosure. This is to stop any burrowing animals from entering. I had a go at cutting the steel and welding too – there’s a first time for everything:)
We also needed to fix a couple of doors, fill in the gaps around them with more wire, and then the hardest part was to dig a trench from the volunteer lawn all the way to the enclosure, to take a cable for the electric fence. Hot and hard work!
Aaron and another volunteer started the job with a pick axe and a spade, but Aaron unfortunately struck a water pipe and made a rainbow! Nobody knows where the water pipe runs and it doesn’t run in a straight line, so the chances of hitting it again were pretty high. One of the volunteers who can’t sit around doing nothing has been a complete star and dug the rest of the trench on his own, (and not hit any water pipes!) so today we laid the cable, backfilled the trench and are just waiting for an electrician to come and connect it up.
Meanwhile, we have just finished the smaller ‘annex’ to the main enclosure. This is the first entrance to it, and is where we will feed them. I added some long pieces of wood and tied them in place horizontally so that they have higher level walkways to run and play on, and we have now moved them into this.
It has a mesh roof so that they can’t escape, and they will stay in here until we have the power for the electric fence at the top of the larger section.