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SUCCESSFUL RELEASES DONE BY RIVERSIDE

Being able to do a release must be one of the most fulfilling experiences any person could ever wish to achieve! In the case of primates it must be even more so - because it doesn't just take a month or two to rehabilitate a vervet monkey and get it integrated into a troop before you are able to release it back to nature where they rightfully belong.

A lot of hard work and perseverance during the rehabilitation period and then the ultimate release, makes a person realise every time that what we are doing at Riverside is right.

To mention just one specific case: a female baby orphan was received at Riverside, she was only about 4 weeks old! After a lot of caring attention and dedication she was finally strong enough after a couple of months to be put into the second stage of the rehabilitation program - that is where 'family groups' are formed with monkeys of different ages and sexes.

Monkeys stay in this second stage until the 'new family' have about 12-20 members and all are accepted by the other members of the family. There after they go to the final phase of the rehabilitation program and that is when they go into large enclosures (varying in size from 100mē-1,200ēm), these enclosures have natural plants, trees, grasses, fruits, flowers etc that make up the normal diet of a vervet monkey in the wild.

This particular female was in one of these enclosures for almost 3years until we finally found a suitable release site where she and the rest of her troop could be released. When we capture monkeys to take them to the release site, we weigh & measure them and also determine whether they are in a good over all condition to be released.

Well, this female was captured and all the necessary checks were performed to establish if she was in a good enough condition to be released when we found that she was pregnant!

I don't think it is possible to describe what everyone's feelings and reactions were at that moment! Almost beyond comprehension, that this 'orphan baby' was not only and adult female now - BUT her baby would be born in the wild!

After the release the monkeys are monitored for at least 3-4 months to ensure that they are coping in nature and that the troop formulation remains as it was before release! The baby was born about a week after the troop was taken to the release enclosure, and after another two weeks, when the troop eventually left the release enclosure the baby and the mom were in fine health!

Since Riverside's website was originally designed in 2004 quite a few releases have taken place that have not been mentioned yet!

After the Blackhills release in 2003 the next release was done in 2005.          September 2005 a release took place at Zandspruit Farm in the Mokopane district approx 500Km (return trip) from Riverside. 38 monkeys were successfully released.                                                                                                            April 2006 - a release at Entabeni Private Game Reserve followed - this release was called 'The Oliver Ditzler/Bonatura Release' because of the generous donation made by Oliver Ditzler and his company towards the release expenses. 23 monkeys were released in this wonderful reserve.                                                    November 2006 saw the next release at Imbabala Game Reserve, 38 monkeys were released at this site with the release called 'Dr Julia Milford Release' not only because so many of these monkeys were originally sent to Riverside by Julia; but also because she is always there to encourage and assist Riverside.                        Before we had time to plan our next release we were asked to assist with the relocation of monkeys from Morelettaspruit (suburb in Pretoria) to a place outside the city boundaries. This was one of those sad instances where human development in an area had 'pushed' the monkeys from their original habitat and while they managed to exist in an area a lot smaller than which they would choose to survive in the wild; it was decided that it would be better for the survival of these monkeys if they could be relocated; because not only were they living in unnatural circumstances but almost daily a monkey was injured while trying to cross a busy road, or by humans shooting at them when they visited the 'wrong'gardens!        May 2007 finally saw the 59 monkeys from Pretoria being relocated to Dinokeng Private Game Reserve, to a new life of freedom from without busy traffic and roads and angry gardeners not wanting to share their fruits and vegetables!

Looking at the monkeys in this picture one could almost imagine them saying something like:"Come on now,move along I want to get out as well!" This picture was taken at the Entabeni Release soon after the power was switched off to enable them to leave the release enclosure.

Whiteback Vulture (Gyps africanus) being released after successful treatment at  Riverside - May 2004

African Rock Python (Python sebae) released on a game farm after it was caught in a house in Tzaneen - January 2006

For a more detailed report see NEWS LETTER

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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