The National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has come under fire from two animal welfare groups for a new policy decision to destroy all injured, sick or orphaned vervet monkeys and baboons - except in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, the society has also received some support from Durban's Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (Crow) for confronting the fact that several wildlife centres are overcrowded with primates which have no chance of ever returning to the wild.
Some estimates suggest there are up to 3 000 vervet monkeys in captivity nationwide, with one Limpopo primate centre holding up to 700.
The decision to euthanase all vervet monkeys and baboons taken to SPCA centres (except in KwaZulu-Natal) was taken at a recent national council meeting on the basis that wild primate rehabilitation centres in most parts of the country had too many monkeys and not enough suitable sites to release them.
The NSPCA said it supported rehabilitation projects as it believed wild animals belonged in the wild.
However, it did not want to perpetuate prolonged physical or psychological stress for captive wild animals.