Two weeks ago, a research team from Capetown and Venda University, South Africa, came to Lajuma to collect genetic samples from the samango monkeys. The team, consisting of Kirsten, BB, Jabu, Adrian (the vet), and Marilise, were also interested in the influence of the environment on the monkeys’ dental wear.
Griet, a Research Assistant from the Primate and Predator Project, worked with them and wrote this report.
The team aimed to capture 20 samango monkeys in four days. It turned out to be quite a challenge.
The trapping began with some difficulty. Despite setting up eight traps on the first day, only the alpha male of the Barn troop was caught. Adrian immobilised the animal and a well-trained team sprung into action. The male was weighed and measured, dentation and body condition were scored, cheek pouches were checked, and blood and hair samples were collected. In order to recognise each monkey individually in the future, ear markings were inserted using tie-wraps of different colours. Males were marked with an individual pattern on the right ear and a tie-wrap indicating their troop was inserted in the left ear giving them a distinctly punkish look.
The second day started off better. Immediately the team caught three monkeys near the Barn. Especially the young males seem to be curious or hungry enough to explore the oranges and apples we left for them in the cages. The adult females seemed more wary and only picked up the pieces of orange left outside the cage to lure them down. They certainly enjoyed their free meal!
After all the monkeys were processed and both troops had moved away from the cages, the team tried to leap-frog both groups on their way through the vegetation in order to catch some more. Two more catches followed.
On the third day the positive mood which began the day quickly faded when the traps stayed empty. Only the alpha male of the House troop got caught that day. He seemed to be in perfect health, weighing about 10.3 kg. Still 13 to go and we only had one day left. The team decided to stay for another day and in the end six animals of the Barn troop and eight animals of the House troop were weighed, sampled, and individually marked.
This legacy from this research for our project is the ear marked individuals which will enable us to instigate new sampling techniques and answer a wider range of questions.