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Vervet Monkey

Troublemaker of the wild... the Vervet Monkey is extremely inquisitive and also the one who will run off with your lens cap or food if you give it a gap!

My wife and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at one of the rest camps in the Kruger National Park when this monkey thief ran up and stole a biscuit right out of my wife's hand as she turned to say something to me. Very cheeky monkey indeed.

They live in family troops of up to 20 and co-operate using quite a strong social structure or "pecking order". Low-ranking monkeys are often bitten on the base of the tail, a kind of way for the higher-raking monkey to say "don't mess with me, I'm more important than you are".

The females are very maternal and protective over their young, and will even accept strange youngsters into the group. This leads to quite a strong "community feel".

Where to find a troop of African Vervet Monkey

They are widespread throughout southern Africa and prefer savannah woodland habitat. These monkeys are at home on the ground as much as in trees and you will often see them playing by the roadside, lazing about in the heat of the day in the branches of a large tree or hanging out near a waterhole.

Vervet Monkeys forage for food both in trees and on the ground. They eat fruit, seeds, flowers, buds, leaves, bark, gum, roots, bulbs, birds' eggs and so on. They will also take small animals. Oh, and your food is not safe - Vervet Monkeys are known for stealing campers' food.

A lot of their daytime is spent on grooming each other - looking for ticks and fleas. The younger members of the troop play a lot, sometimes to the irritation of the adults.

If you like shooting video material, these guys can keep you occupied for hours. Apart from their entertaining visual behaviour, they also vocalise a lot: whether in pain, hunger or to signal alarm.

Their main enemies are the leopard and large birds of prey. They also get into trouble with farmers if in the area, due to their love of fruit (and mischievous nature!).

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