After experiencing great success over the past 3 days of safari, as a group, we decided to take a slower pace and watch a family of vervet monkeys as they went about their daily duties. My River Lodge guests were happy to experience everything the African bushveld was willing to share with them.
It had all begun as we were bumbling along the wilds of Africa on our morning safari. We spotted an almost helpless looking little monkey, vervet, of course, sitting alone in a huge tall knob thorn acacia. Now just for some insight into these little works of wonder. They are one of only three diurnal (active during the day) primate species to roam the African savannah and we had not yet seen them during the course of our other 6 safari drives. So as one can imagine, my wonderful guests, my tracker Justice and I were very happy to finally get to see them. Although at first, it seemed bitter-sweet. After about 5 minutes, we noticed that the rest of the family were waiting for the little tike on an adjacent tree.
It seemed like it was a defining moment for the little one, almost if it was some type of an initiation or test. He seemed nervous at first like any youngster of any species would during such an important moment.
He managed to move around almost the entire tree umbrella cover to see what all his options were. We sat in anticipation as the family started to call for him almost as if they were encouraging him to hurry up. It was getting late in the afternoon and about that time to head to a roosting tree. He looked around and found himself a branch that extended a little more than the rest. As he lent back, preparing himself for the huge leap, we all held our breaths, for one miss calculation could mean he would not make it or end up impaled on the trees thorny protection..
It appeared as if in our own minds we were all silently counting him down. One… Two… Threeeeeeeee… and he took off like a bird in flight and headed for the adjacent tree.
But … he did not make it all the way! He did, however, manage to clear the gap and land on a small bush at the base of the tree.
It was still a great accomplishment. He made his way up the tree like a young worrier coming back from his trials out in the world, head held high, oozing with pride, yet still a little clumsy. We could not help but applaud, yet as quietly as possible not to scare them off.
Absolutely Awesome! That was our final verdict for that day’s game drive. Seeing a young animal be tested like that in nature is a rare occurrence and we felt privileged to have just witnessed it.
Story and photos by: Calton Hartig – River Lodge