PI hot on trail of brutal monkey-killer
Locals in seaside town describe hideous sight of entire troop convulsing and foaming from banned poison
Who was the person, fed up with troops of monkeys invading his or her home in the posh seaside tourist town of Umdloti, north of Durban, that resorted to an inhumane way of exterminating the problem?
That’s what animal activists and a private detective are determined to find out after it emerged that someone used an extremely dangerous and illegal poison called Temik, also known as “Two Step”, to poison a troop of 22 monkeys at the weekend. The poison is often used in agriculture as an insecticide, and was banned in SA in the first quarter of 2011.
Private detective Sean Pierce told Times Select they were close to identifying someone who is alleged to have laced bread with the deadly poison and left it for the monkeys to eat. A witness had identified the suspect.
“We believe that we have strong evidence against the suspect in question. The poison takes about 20 minutes to kick in and given the area in which the monkeys were found we have worked out that it would have to have been given to them within the radius of six homes.”
Umdloti, which is surrounded by lush green vegetation, is frequented by troops of monkeys who have multiplied over the years.
Pierce, who took it upon himself to find out who was behind this “heinous act,” said it was a horrible discovery.
“I got a call from a friend and together with Caroline Smith, SPCA Durban and Coast spokesperson, we headed out,” he said.
“When we got to the home in Umdloti, it was a horrible sight. There were monkeys lying all over the floor, foaming at the mouth, with some hanging off a tree, convulsing,” he said.
Steve Smit, founder of Monkey Hotline, which helps rescue monkeys and educate people about them, called the killing “malicious and deliberate”, adding that it was one of the worst incidents he had seen in 24 years.
A dog was also a casualty of the poisoning after it ate vomit from one of the monkeys and later died.
The dead monkeys and the identity of the suspect have been the centre of conversation in the businesses that line the main road facing the beach.
Residents are furious over the inhumane treatment of the monkeys but acknowledge the primates are a “huge problem” in the town.
Umdhloti resident Tyler du Toit, 23, said she was concerned that the poison was so dangerous. “It’s nerve-racking to consider that a dog had died just by licking up the vomit of one of the monkeys. What if that monkey touched something and my child touched the same thing and then put his hand into his mouth?
“I mean, yes, the monkeys are a problem in the area but they aren’t harmful and don’t cause any trouble.”
The former Umhlanga resident said that while monkeys were also a problem in the area she used to lived in, it was much worse in Umdloti.
Shuran Nayak, 43, condemned the act, pointing out that monkeys were in the area long before humans.
“This place belonged to them before us, we need to adapt to them, not them adapting to us. While I hope the person, who did this is caught and punished, I don’t think our laws will take this incident seriously.”
Another resident, Byron Smith, 32, echoed Nayak’s sentiments and emphasised that humans had encroached on the monkey’s territory.
“This is something that is not only prevalent in Umdloti. Monkeys are also an issue in Durban North where I stay and other places like Verulam.
“It's their area at the end of the day and they are only looking for food because their original means of getting food was taken away when we came into their habitat and destroyed it. But to go around killing them is just not on,” he said.
Another local, Lwandile Manyembane, 21, said while the monkeys could be a pest, people should try to find alternative solutions to deal with them.
“I think if they have animals like dogs that will chase them away that could be used as a preventive measure, but in no way does it justify anyone having to kill them. That is not the solution,” he said.
French-born South African and national cultural and tour guide Daniel Pechine, 80, said the killing of SA wildlife had a negative impact on the entire outlook of the country. “The perpetrator who committed such an offence should be locked up. Tourists come to our country to see these animals roaming freely. I had a monkey living in my garden for three days and, while I was a little concerned about my dogs, never did I once consider chasing the animal away or hurting it,” he said.