The lives of hundreds of baboons and vervet monkeys hang in the balance. This after the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) decided to euthanase primates handed in by the public for care because of injury, disease or because they are simply regarded as pests. Conservationists are condemning the option of euthanasia.
According to Nema (National Environmental Management Act 10 of Dec 2004), baboons and vervet monkeys are recognised as protected species. Both species share the same threatened status as the white rhino.
"It takes a very long time for these primates to be released, finding places where these people can take these primates is problematic," said Rick Allan, a manager of the National Wildlife Unit.
Rehabilitation centres overpopulated
Annually, close to 200 sick and injured primates are admitted countrywide. The NSPCA says Limpopo's three rehabilitation centres are over-populated, with some 3 000 primate species.
Bob Venter, a primatologist at the Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Limpopo, says there is no record of primate overpopulation, and the SPCA is ill-informed about conservation laws. It is believed that the primates might be extinct within ten years.