Friday, August 24, 2007

Kenyan village raided by vervet monkies

Kenyan farmers are being harrassed by rapacious monkeys:

A troop of vervet monkeys is giving Kenyan villagers long days and sleepless nights, destroying crops and causing a food crisis.

Earlier this month, local MP Paul Muite urged the Kenyan Wildlife Service to help contain their aggressive behaviour.

But Mr Muite caused laughter when he told parliament that the monkeys had taken to harassing and mocking women in a village.
The monkeys are sexually harrassing the village's women as they till and harvest their land. As is the case with virtually all other primates, vervet troops are male-dominated. These guys are being crass lads while they plunder. Despite their lack of cultural sophistication, the monkeys are able to see through the lady villagers' vain attempts to throw off the societal chauvinism that distinguishes men and women:

Nachu's women have tried wearing their husbands' clothes in an attempt to trick the monkeys into thinking they are men - but this has failed, they say.

"When we come to chase the monkeys away, we are dressed in trousers and hats, so that we look like men," resident Lucy Njeri told the BBC News website.

"But the monkeys can tell the difference and they don't run away from us and point at our breasts. They just ignore us and continue to steal the crops."

Africa is the best place to see just how wrong the feministic worldview is. Vervet monkies display gender differences in toy preferences similar to those of humans, with males choosing trucks and females choosing dolls. Gender differences are innate. Even though the biggest of these monkies struggle to top 20 pounds soaking wet, they're brazen. The women may play soldier, but they can't hold a candle to their warrior men:

They say the monkeys are more afraid of young men than women and children, and the bolder ones throw stones and chase the women from their farms.
So, Nachu's fierce fighters to the rescue, right? Why are the villagers pleading for the Kenyan Wildlife Service to get involved, when the monkeys are afraid of the village's men? This is Africa. The men don't sully themselves with work. Their women do all that.

The Service isn't ameliorating the situation by telling the villagers not to harm the monkies, which are protected. By contrast, in most other African countries they are considered pests and can be killed with impunity.

This is almost surreal:

The residents report that the monkeys have killed livestock and guard dogs, which has also left the villagers living in fear, especially for the safety of their babies and children.

All the villagers' attempts to control the monkeys have failed - the monkeys evade traps, have lookouts to warn the others of impending attacks and snub poisoned food put out by the residents.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren't well equipped to face a band of clever vervet monkies. We need to send the tribe some pit bulls, a breed much better suited to tackle a troop.

More than surreal, though, this is depressing. These people cannot defeat a band of monkies. Think about that. The average IQ for Kenya is estimated to be 72, meaning roughly half of the population would be deemed mentally retarded in the US. Presumably, higher IQs are more concentrated in large cities like Nairobi. So attempts at organization and the setting up of obstacles to keep the monkies away are probably sorely lacking in efficiency and effectiveness.

Reality is a disturbing thing.


Anonymous said...

Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren't well equipped to face a band of clever vervet monkies.

This is an insult to a fine breed of dog. They were, after all,originally used in lion hunting.

Anonymous said...

the monkeys evade traps, have lookouts to warn the others of impending attacks and snub poisoned food put out by the residents.

I've been vexed by many years by the problem of poisoned food used on dogs-not monkeys. Where I live the bandidos routinely poison your dogs before robbing your home. Yet the wilier wild canids are known for avoiding food with human scent.

Here is a job for intensive animal husbandry :selective breeding for dogs who will only eat food that carries the scent of the human pack members. But I guess the food would have to be totally home produced. So we probably need a critical mass of peak oil believers as a precondition for what I'm hoping for.

Audacious Epigone said...


It's not meant to be an insult. I agree that Ridgebacks are dextertous, regal animals. But their relatively gracile frame isn't optimal for monkies throwing pebbles, clawing, and biting. Pit bulls have an incredibly high pain tolerance threshold, which is why they rarely submit and ignore that submission in other animals.


Unless a strong scent (from a variety of them) could be purchased and added to the food?

Anonymous said...

"These people cannot defeat a band of monkies. [...] The average IQ for Kenya is estimated to be 72[...] "

An IQ of around 70 is supposed to correspond to the mental age of 11. A group of 11-year-olds (or 10-year-olds, if the bright minds go to live in the cities, as you suggest) should be able to outwit a bunch of monkeys. I'm not so sure that low intelligence is the problem here.

Jun said...

I wonder what the avg IQ of vervet monkeys is? ;-)

You'd think they'd at least be as clever as capuchins. They don't appear on this 'league table', unfortunately:

Primate power: the league table of intelligence

1. Orang-utan
2. Chimpanzee
3. Spider monkey
4. Gorilla
5. Surili
6. Macaque
7. Mandrill
8. Guenon
9. Mangabey
10. Capuchin
11. Woolly monkey
12. Gibbon
13. Baboon
14. Slow loris
15. Night monkey
16. Ruffed lemur
17. Brown lemur
18. Fork-marked lemur
19. Ring-tailed lemur
20. Bushbaby
21. Squirrel monkey
22. Mouse lemur
23. Marmoset
24. Talapoin

Anonymous said...

The monkeys are protected so maybe the villagers are quite hesitant to kill them or run them off for fear of fines, etc... God only knows what the Kenyan version of the EPA is like. Most people in Africa or 3rd world countries in general have no problem killing (and often eating) what they consider to be pests and even in the US and Canada, marine mammals are still shot or poisoned, but not as much as they used to be (thankfully). Low IQ villagers or not, I am kind of surprised these monkeys haven't wound up in the villager's stew. I can't help feeling there is more to this story.

loki on the run said...

Ummm, you forgot the obvious explanation.

The patriarchy is a cross-species conspiracy!

Audacious Epigone said...


Interesting roster. I'm surprised that Spider monkies are so high up on the primate list.


I wonder, too. It's odd that in South Africa, for example, vervets are considered pests and freely killed.

What would the Service do? These villagers are literally leaving their homes out of frustration. Are the consequences that bad, whatever they may be?

They're not endangered, so I wonder why the Kenyan Wildlife Service cares at all.


Heh, I'm such a chauvinistic retrograde. How did I miss the obvious? Ah yes, I'm a thick-headed male, of course!

Jun said...

Interesting roster. I'm surprised that Spider monkies are so high up on the primate list.

Yeah, I was, too. Maybe they've had to acquire some smarts to compensate for their lack of thumbs (!) -- opposable or otherwise (how do they manage?!). ;-)

More seriously -- they do move through the canopy (a very 3-dimensional world) very much like orangutans. The cleverness (esp. visio-spatial skills) of orangs has been put down to this -- having to navigate through the canopy without falling! Not something you want to do when you're such a large ape.

On the other hand, spider monkeys have pretty large brains, apparently -- who knew? Some suggest this is related, in part, to their broad social horizon:

At 107 grams, the spider monkey brain is actually twice the size of a howler monkey's of equivalent body size; this is thought to be a result of the spider monkeys' complex social system as well as their diet, which consists primarily of ripe fruit from a wide variety (over 150 species) of plants.

Primates are such fun!

Jun (aka Miss Anne Thrope)