"Who Wants Cheese," said the Monkey.
As I gear up for my next trip to South Africa, including many nights in Kruger National Park, I start a pile of items to bring on the trip. My thoughts turns to what monkey repellent I will take this year; an air horn, a water squirter, rubber snakes... I've used them all during one trip or another to keep these cute, but monkeys at bay and away from my hut or tent.
When they hear pots rattling in the outdoor kitchen as I begin to prepare food, the little menaces come scampering through the yard or swinging rapidly through tree branches towards me as if I'd rang their dinner bell instead of mine. They don't come alone, and they aren't timid.
My first vervet monkey encounter took place way back in 2001 in Kruger National Park while staying at Skukuza camp. I wrote about the encounter with this mama and her baby in my first book, "Domestic Departures, A Midlife Crisis Safari."
Here is the excerpt:
I went to the camp shop to stock up on supplies. They put my groceries in a box which I took back to my hut.
I sat the box of food on the outdoor counter and went inside my little hut to put the newspaper away before it blew off in the morning breeze. I was inside for less than a minute when I heard a loud noise. I ran to the door. About three feet from me, a screen door separating us, was an adult vervet monkey with a baby clinging to her belly. She was raiding my food box. The monkey had a loaf of bread in one hand and an apple in the other. Instinct took over and I bravely hurried out the door and jumped at the monkey and screamed, “Get out of that!”
I did not expect what happened next. The monkey jumped right back at me, mouth wide open in anger, showing off her long teeth. Then, from nowhere, other monkeys came running to her aid, failing to realize that she did not need help. She had sufficiently and single-highhandedly scared me to death.
I retreated quickly back into the hut giving her full permission to eat everything I had.
I sat on the bed to regain my composure while the monkey casually returned to my food box and made herself and her family some lunch.
I imagined her out there spreading mayonnaise on bread for sandwiches. “Who wants cheese?”
One would think I learned some lessons from that encounter, but again in Kruger Park I was harassed by vervet monkeys which I wrote about in my blog Smiling at Monkeys. During that encounter I had one chase me and try to bite me on the leg, with the full support, and I even think urging on, of his gang... I mean troop.
As time draws near to my next trip to Kruger, I ponder what will be my weapon of choice to keep those adorable and cute yet utter menaces away from me.
Perhaps this trip I will take an army of weapons; a super soaker, rubber snakes, an air horn and whatever else I can think of between now and my departure date.
You would think I would be gearing up against lions, leopards and such but no..., it's the monkeys I fear the most.