Tuesday, 21 June 2016

At half past six on Sunday morning, six interns and one dog piled into our landlord's car and drove two hours east along the Garden Route to Monkeyland in Plettenberg Bay. Monkeyland is a primate sanctuary for rescued animals from around the world. Of the eighteen species of monkeys, lemurs, and langurs there, only one is native to South Africa. That species, the Vervet Monkey, is still considered a pest by many South Africans. In Monkeyland, though, Vervets can roam the sanctuary's enclosed forest with the same freedom given to species like the Hanuman Lemur, which is sacred in some parts of India.

Above is a picture of my favourite monkey, Calik, Monkeyland's only Spectacled Langur. Langurs are Old World Monkeys, meaning that Calik differs from New World species like Squirrel Monkeys because he lacks a prehensile (a.k.a. 'grasping') tail. Squirrel Monkeys can use their tails to hang upside down from tree branches and we watched some drink from a stream using that method. Calik, however, isn't as much of a fan of acrobatics. With a steady diet of high-cellulose leaves and fruit, he spends a lot of his time in the position we found him in: sitting back and taking the time to digest his food and the world around him.