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Due to the listing of the baboon 
(Papio ursinus), vervet monkey 
(Cercopithecus aethiops), red jackal (Canis mesomelas), caracal (rooikat) (Felis caracal) and bush pig (Potamochoerus porcus) species as "VERMIN" or "PROBLEM" animals by the South-African Provinces, it is the cause of huge misconceptions. 

This cruel law (ordinance) condemning the above five species to extinction, has resulted in people and various bodies exploiting and abusing these animals.

For example, a vervet monkey may cause a bit of damage by helping itself to food in a garden at Mussina (a small town in the Limpopo Province), yet the public has the right to eradicate a troop, in Cape Town (Western Cape Province) 2000 Km away, where no damage has occurred.

In a letter from a former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Kraai van Niekerk, he stressed the fact that one cannot proclaim a species as "VERMIN or PROBLEM" animals, but individuals may become such.

Because of the exploitation and abuse of these listed and other wildlife species, the RIVERSIDE WILDLIFE REHABILITATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTRE (RWREC) was founded and developed. With a specially designed programme we provide a temporary sanctuary for vervet monkeys and other wildlife casualties that have been taken out of the wild and kept in captivity or being used as pets. It is common knowledge that wild animal species do not make good household pets especially the vervet monkey biting the family, friends and breaking nearly all ornaments and other valued household items. At this point they lose their cuteness and the owners must get rid of them, with very limited options. Either to be handed over to the Authorities and other organisations to be killed or to be used in bio-medical research laboratories.

The casualties that result from this cruel Law, are anthropogenic in their cause and therefore, a need for wildlife rehabilitation centres was vitally important. A rehabilitation centre such as RWREC plays an important role and helps to alleviate a great deal of this problem, by providing the much needed service to the abused animal wildlife, the communities, public and Government at large.

Because the vervet monkey, baboon and predatory species in our country are misunderstood (due to the stigma attached to them being listed as "VERMIN"), it has given them a bad image in the eyes of the public and the farming communities.

In our desire and commitment to improve the living standards of the vervet monkey undergoing rehabilitation, we moved away from the traditionally conventional rehabilitation methods and techniques, e.g. only accepting baby vervet monkeys with the adults being euthanized by other organisations.

In our rehabilitation program we are now using the natural instincts of adult females to assist with the fostering of babies in the program. We went further and developed electrified steel wire mesh enclosures incorporating natural plants, trees and shrubs, in which we are able to rehabilitate the vervet monkeys and other wild animals in a natural environment.

It has been acknowledged by major animal welfare organisations and the media that this concept of using huge enclosures introducing different types of animals to each other is a major break through in not only non-human primate rehabilitation but also for the other species.

Introducing this method we have opened a window into the vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops) and other wildlife species' behaviour. This window is allowing us to observe the secret life of this remarkable yet most misunderstood non-human primate, and other species undergoing rehabilitation.

Our projects demand long studies especially with the vervet monkeys. Our initial study of the vervet monkey troop and other species dynamics was the classroom in which we gained hands on experience from which our introduction techniques were developed.

At the onset of this project it was felt that a minimum of eight to ten years would be required to study and monitor all phases of a vervet monkey troop dynamics: composition, introduction, integration, development, behaviour and eventually release back into the wild. Rehabilitation duration on other species varies from species to species.

It is perceived that vervet monkey rehabilitation is fraught with problems, virtually impossible, and projects like ours were frowned upon and shrouded in negativity. Yet with our scientifically based methods and techniques we have not only succeeded with the rehabilitation of vervet monkeys but also reduced the above mentioned period to approximately 3 years. Our organisation is therefore committed and devoted to the study of the vervet monkey and other wildlife species. In return we can use and offer this knowledge for the betterment and survival of any vervet monkey or other wild animal species once becoming endangered.

With the current growing public awareness of the plight of misused non-human primates and other wildlife species, it is vital that programmes like the ones currently in place at our centre is maintained to cope with all future casualties.

Because of our wildlife rehabilitation success rate we identified the need to educate the human species which is the main cause of the depletion of nature and its inhabitants. Therefore our organisation does not only deal in the welfare of wildlife, it is committed to educate the public, especially the youth, underprivileged and disabled, in sustainable utilization of all natural resources.

Due to the regular influx of wild animals in distress we obtained land situated near Letsitele in the Limpopo Province in 1995, which we are constantly developing and upgrading to cater for all their needs.


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Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation and Environmental Education Centre, P.O. Box 161, Letsitele 0885, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Phone: +27 (0)15 3451050, E-mail: river-edu@mweb.co.za, Website: http://www.primate-sa.org