Last week we found a young vervet monkey on the beach under a mango tree. The poor thing had a huge black eye and was bleeding a little. I assumed it must have fallen out of the tree; it could only crawl using its arms and appeared not able to walk using its back legs or move its tail. I picked it up in my arms and took it to our house. Along the ten minute journey through the forest it desperately tried to bite me. I called him Antocha, after my old pet monkey Anton which our family kept when I was four years old. Antocha didn’t want anything to drink, but he was happy to eat chapati and tomatoes. We placed him inside a tent to rest. Antocha required medical attention but I am not a vet so I spoke to the park ecologist. Unfortunately, vervet monkeys are numerous in Tanzania, I was told that if he had been an elephant or better a rhino I vet would have been called immediately from the Serengeti but injured monkeys are of no concern. We kept feeding him at regular intervals, in-between work in the forest, he particularly liked porridge. On the second day he seemed to have perked up, and this time managed to get a good bite out of my thumb. It hurt quite a bit and became swollen. I was worried about rabies and tetanus for some few days. I was told that I couldn’t get an injection against tetanus at our island clinic; the nearest hospital is 3 hours away by road from the mainland. On weekends the hospitals don’t do tetanus injections, so I would have to wait some few days. Luckily I checked and I had been vaccinated against tetanus in the UK, so hopefully I should be fine. Rabies is extremely severe and doesn’t stay dormant for too long in its host, most infected animals have an onset of symptoms within 3-7 days, by doing a quick examination of Antocha’s external appearance I guessed that it was unlikely to have rabies. I could be wrong of course.
Sadly after 4 days Antocha lost conciousness and appeared to go into a comma. He died 2 days later. One of the guys at the tourist camp told me he had been in a fight with a colobus monkey over mangoes. Poor darling.
I didn’t take any pictures of Antocha because it was too upsetting.
Rubondo has a large population of black kites (Milvus migrans) who often fish on the shore close to our house. I hadn’t realised how beautiful these birds are until I started to photograph them and caught some pictures of them in the sunlight. I am not sure why they are called black kites, since they are clearly caramel brown. But we have more of these than the fish eagles. Enjoy!