One of the goals of our work in Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve is to provide opportunities for South African students to learn about their country’s wildlife. Thanks to a grant from the International Primate Protection League, we were able to bring Piwe Ludidi up from Mthatha (about 20 hours by bus!) to work with us in the reserve for 3 weeks. Piwe fell in love with the samango monkeys and had no trouble camping in almost-freezing weather.
We are currently conducting a samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) survey in Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve. Lekgalameetse and the adjacent Wolkberg Wilderness Area together comprise one of the largest tracts of wilderness in South Africa. Blocks of Afromontane forest within the reserve are critical habitat for the samango monkey since the species is restricted to forested areas. Lekgalameetse is therefore an important site for samango monkey conservation. Our goals are to assess the size and health of the samango monkey population, to determine how human activity in the reserve impacts their survival, and to teach South African students about their country’s wildlife.
We traveled to the province of Limpopo to teach a group of young South Africans about caring for God’s creation. Then they went to a local public high school to teach what they had learned. They taught about chickens and had the students experience life in a confined space by having them spend some time under their desk. Then they shared what they had observed at the Vervet Monkey Foundation as female monkeys adopted lonely orphans. Tears were shed and hearts opened. It was an amazing day as attitudes toward animals changed before our eyes.