Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Soul Sister

OneStonedCrow Pic

This is Stoffel - my animal 'soul-mate'.

Friends confiscated her from some soldiers in a bar 24 years ago. She was a babe, about two months old, (her mother had probably been shot to get at her, which is usually how they're stolen from the wild). My friends could not keep her because they lived in a town and asked if I would be willing to care for her ...

... the instant Stoffel set eyes on me, she jumped straight into my arms and began smacking her lips and grooming me; thus began a profoundly strange, intense and at times, frustrating friendship. She regards me as her alpha monkey "husband", she's insanely jealous and gets very uptight if anyone,(especially a woman), approaches me. She would, I believe, defend me to the death against any attacker and has, on occasion, saved my butt by alerting me to the presence of snakes.

When she was about eight months old she climbed a power pylon and was electrocuted. The vet managed to save her, but had to amputate her left arm and tail. Her disability has not affected her zest for life or her agility. I suspect though, that being tailless gives her more reason to think she's human. Her accident probably triggered a protective response in me and caused me to give her a lot more attention than I otherwise might have.

Given the close human contact she's had from an early age,(my family is the only 'troop' she knows), it was inevitable that she take on human attributes. Conversely, having interacted so closely with her, I have become somewhat monkey-like,(the same thing happened to Dian Fossey of "Gorillas In The Mist" fame). Anyone who's been really close to a cat or dog may understand what I mean.

Throughout the years she's tested my human friendships and cost me dearly in property damage. I had to have her razor-sharp incisors removed because she would often fly into a mindless rage and bite people; which could have had fatal consequences.

She has trained me to secure all valuables, medications, booze and anything that can be dismantled. For example, I have to shut-down and lock my laptop away every time I leave my desk, otherwise she'll chew the keys off. But, it's when she raids my stash that I get most upset ...

I also take care of two other rescued Vervet monkeys. I try to keep an emotional distance from them, they're housed in a large cage outside. It is difficult,(though not impossible), to rehabilitate these creatures back into the wild, but it requires dedicated time and resources, neither of which I have. The best I can do is to provide them with food, shelter and a secure environment where they are not teased or tormented.

I could write many pages and thousands of words about the fur people and their antics but, ... right now, it's time for another grooming session ...

You can see more pics of Stoffel, Tumbili and Lucky here.

... and for the record, I'm opposed to the practice of keeping primates as "pets", or in any other form of captivity, ... they should be left where they belong: ... in the wild, swinging freely from the trees ...



  1. What a remarkable website you have. I am stunned. I am so glad you commented on my site as I followed the link to yours and have been reading a ogling the your beautiful photos for the last half hour. I never spend that much time at a blog. But then I love travel, nature photography, the wild and her creatures. I relate to much of what you have here. The story of Stoffel is astonishing, as is your awareness of and ability to understand inter-species communication and relationships.

    I chewed through this article and looked at all the photos of Stoffel. Incredible. What a fascinating life you live. I am off to look at more photo and read. It's all juicy to me. Thank you so much for leading me here. Take care, Robin

  2. What a beautiful account of you life and you animal life partner, Graham. Dankie hiervoor.

  3. ... en dankie vir die besoek en kommentaar Lu :)

  4. What an amazing story, & wonderful that you rescued Stoffel all those years ago (& have been so dedicated to her well being ever since - it doesn't sound easy - and 24 years is a long time !), aswell as the other 2 you care for. I shudder to think what may have become of them otherwise, and whilst I agree with you about the primates as pets thing, I also agree that you have done the best thing for them in the circumstances. Am off to look at the other photos now ...

  5. Thanks for reading this and commenting Lynda - I actually made a mistake in my calculations ... Stoffel is 21 this year - but that's still very old for a Vervet monkey ... I must admit though, that she's chilled-out a bit in her old-age ... she still gets angry but it's not the "mindless rage" type angry ...

  6. i can understand exactly where you're coming from. We have a troop who vist us every day. They play in a secure area of our garden where the dogs can't get to them. I love watching them play with the mongoose family who live at the bottom of our garden.
    Quite beautiful.

  7. Thanks for your visit and comment Agrippina - I would love to see the Vervets playing with Mongoose - the ones I take care of seem to have a love/hate relationship with cats, they love kittens but dislike adults ...

  8. I hadn't read this story before. Perhaps I started following you after this post. I found this post fascinating.

  9. Thanks Penny - I'm glad you were able to read it ...