A monkey of no importance

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.


About Nadejda Josephine

I am currently studying for a doctorate in Anthropology at University College London. My fieldwork takes place on Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The research looks at the nesting patterns and nest architecture in the Rubondo chimpanzees. I began the work in April 2012 and will remain on the island until at least October 2013. I write this blog so as not to forget this wonderful island and the random events which occur throughout my fieldwork.

One response to “A monkey of no importance”

  1. Park staff says :

    Such a sad story.
    A philosopher from far east once said “Nature is not human-hearted”

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