Vervet Monkey - Vervet Monkeys and their Conservation

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Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Where are Vervet Monkeys found?

Vervets are found in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.

Vervet monkeys are primarily found in close proximity to water, be it rivers, swamps or lakeshores. They are present in savannah, open woodland, forest-grassland mosaic, especially close to rivers, and riverine forest. Vervets predominantly inhabit acacia-dominated habitats. Like other species of the genus it is extremely versatile and can persist in secondary forest as well as highly fragmented habitat. It can exploit cultivated rural areas and is also found in urban environments. Generally, it is absent from desert areas and deep forest within its range, unlike its West African counterparts.

Vervets live in male-dominant, hierarchical groups of multiple females and multiple males. Females remain within the group they were born and males migrate to neighbouring groups, sometimes in groups. They will often do this twice in a lifetime, once on reaching sexual maturity (five or 6 years) and again after siring offspring. Groups vary greatly in size from 8 to 73.  Solitary males have been observed as well as groups of two and  three individuals. These are likely to be migrating males. Group fusions have been recorded in declining populations. Remaining members of a dwindling group will abandon their territory and join a neighbouring group hsortly after the loss of the penultimate adult. They can move their territory in reponse to many factors. Some groups will move in reponse to habitat deterioration, others in repsponse to other group movements. Home ranges vary from 23 to 60 hectares.

In regions of their range where there are clear wet and dry seasons, mating generally occurs during the dry season and birthing tends to occur at the beginning of the wet season when resources once again become plentiful. Otherwise, mating  and birthing are year round. Gestation is approximately five to six months after which a single infant is usually born,  though twins have been observed. Weaning occurs between 270 and 540 days. Females reach sexual maturity at approximately three years, and males at approximately six years.  Allomothering is practiced. Infanticide  has been observed. Vervets can live for up to 33 years in captivity but normally some years younger in the wild.

Vervets are diurnal and semi-terrestrial. They are generalist, opportunistic omnivores. They eat fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, gum, bark, insects, grass. They also consume swollen thorns, bird eggs, land snails, small mammals, birds and reptiles. Acacia trees are a central part of the diet. Vervets have been observed leaping to catch termites in South Africa, some waiting at exit holes to catch the termites as they take flight.

Vervet eating mushrooms

Hilgert's vervet (Chlorocebus pygerythrus hilgerti) eating bark

Vervet eating fiddler crab in on the northern coast of Kenya

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