Interesting facts - Vervet Monkeys and their Conservation

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Interesting facts

Interesting vervet facts


Vervets are very intellegent and can communicate to members of their group when there is danger from a predator or when a rival group is nearby. Some other vocalisations have a social function to convey messages to other group members.

Their complex vocalisations are studied as part of the evolution of human speech.


Crowned hawk eagle with vervet kill

Infant development

Hairs of new infants (neonates) are dark grey to black and are quite sparse. Infant faces are pink and become darker over time. Adult colourations is reached by 6 months of age. The hair gets more plentiful and changes colour and the face becomes darker over time.


First-time mother with new infant, Samara Game Reserve, South Africa

Conflict with humans

Vervets, due to their adaptable nature and intelligence, regularly come into contact with humans. This will often lead to conflict. They are considered to be pests in a large portion of their range. In rural areas this conflict will arise as a result of vervets raiding crops. In more urban areas they will opportunistically enter houses to find food, raid bins and accept handouts from people.


Chlorocebus pygerythrus hilgerti in rubbish dump in Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Photo from Wild Solutions website,  De Jong and Butynski Photomap

Terrestriality and evolution

Vervets represent an evolutionary transition between primate arboreality and terrestriality. They are semi-terrestrial, often preferring to travel over ground rather than in the trees. Vervet locomotion (how they move) has been, and continues to be, studied in great detail.


Adult male vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus pygerythrus) walking along the ground, South Africa

Vervets in biomedical research

Vervet monkeys are one of the most commonly used non-human primate subjects in biomedical research. They have been invaluable animal models. They have been used in the research of development, anatomy, physiology, immunology, disease, psychology, addiction, and behaviour. They were the central subjects in development of the polio vaccine.

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