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Animal Rights Africa

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Animal Rights Africa by Steve MartindaleMany animal welfare groups in Africa are working hard every day to save animals in the far reaches of the continent. But Animal Rights Africa (ARA) is unique in promoting an agenda to eliminate the major causes of animal suffering. ARA sponsors vegan outreach programs and campaigns against factory farming and animal experiments, and it works to stop the export of animals for entertainment and laboratories overseas, to stop hunting, and to find sanctuary for animals who need refuge. This spunky and passionate group is making a difference on all fronts. Watch its video to see what it’s up against (warning: this is Free Me on steroids).

One of the group’s biggest projects is the Monkey Helpline. Steve Smit, an ARA founder, and Carol Booth, an ARA trustee, work tirelessly to save vervet monkeys and many other animals as well. Based in Durbin, South Africa, they field questions from all over Africa, present classes to students, and educate the public through pamphlets, radio shows, and television appearances. Still, monkeys are in dire need of help. Smit and Booth physically rescue more than 500 monkeys a year, rehabilitate the ones who can be saved, and return them to their homes.

Why do vervet monkeys need help? They have lived in their home territories for countless generations. Females stay in their natal troops for life, learning from their parents and other relatives where and how to find food, to defend their resources, to interact with other monkeys—in short, they learn all about the ways of vervets in their local area. These family groups pass their knowledge and territories on from one generation to the next. Males leave the troop when they reach maturity to join another group, spreading their genes around. But while monkey families have stayed on their land for ages, their habitat has been usurped by human civilization. And as we all know, people are not always civilized when it comes to anyone not like themselves—vervet monkeys, for example.

These monkeys are intelligent, creative, and adaptive—they have learned to use whatever food sources they can find in areas that are now suburban and industrial instead of forests. Inadvertent tragedies arise from this collision with humans: Monkeys get hit by cars, are attacked by dogs, fall onto streets and into oil tanks, lose limbs to razor-wire fences, and on it goes. Even worse, many people go out of their way to hurt or kill these harmless creatures. Monkeys suffer from gunshots, lead pellets from air guns, snare traps, poison, and even capture for the ungodly practice of muti (cutting body organs from live animals for traditional rituals). Eighty percent of the monkeys who are X-rayed in the course of veterinary care have lead pellets embedded in their bodies, causing untold pain and suffering even when vital organs are not directly impacted.

Animal Rights Africa by Steve MartindaleThe Monkey Hotline saves many animals from these abuses. The group nurses rescued survivors back to health and reestablishes them with their families. It is a driving force in education and advocacy in a land where animals are too often treated as mindless, unfeeling things. It teaches people that animals deserve our consideration. The group’s compassionate energy is overcoming hatred, moving African society closer to the day when all animals are valued for being themselves and allowed to live free—when people correct the wrongs created not only by happenstance but also by malice.

Let’s hear it for animal activists the world over! Have you discovered any other noteworthy groups in your travels?

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    Angela Wilkinson says...

    April 24th, 2009, 3:54 pm

    I am very sad, after reading the article about the Vervet Monkeys, why is it
    that we, the supposedly most intelegent creature on earth, cannot live with
    nature in harmony! We, the humans take all spaces away from the animals
    and think only of ourselfs, well most humans. I believe only with education,
    and more education can we, who respect every creature live in harmony.
    Why must we take over everywhere without any consideration to our animal neighbors? The earth is not only for humans, animals, no matter which has the right to live just as we the humans have. Mr. Steve Martindale, I thank you for letting us know of the Vervets, I admire your
    strenghts and I hope you will succeed with your work. Thank you for
    educating all of us, and I hope the Vervets will be respected after everyone
    understands Vervets too are a part of our mother earth, thank you.

    Jamie Rivet says...

    April 25th, 2009, 4:12 am

    I volunteer at Toronto Wildlife, and we get alot of animals suffering (or dead) as a result of human cruelty. People are overpopulated and it is getting worse. Moreover, there is not a strong move to co-exist with other species: animals are just pests or game. Sorry to be so depressing. It IS great work ARA is doing.

    Linda Higgins says...

    April 25th, 2009, 12:01 pm

    Thank you for what you are doing. What can I do to help to spread the word here in the US? Linda Higgins

    Claudine Erlandson says...

    April 25th, 2009, 2:47 pm

    Thank you Steve Martindale for alerting us about ARA and the plight of these little Vervet monkeys. I had no idea of their ordeal. What they go through is so horrible. I am so thankful to Steve Smit and Carol Booth. It is true that in Africa, education will play an important role against the abuse of their animals. I volunteered in Cameroon, Africa, at a sanctuary for chimpanzees founded by Dr. Sheri Speede. There are about 66 chimpanzees now. At Sanaga-Yong, many of the adult chimpanzees have been rescued from horrible conditions, from private owners, from roadside zoos and even hotels; many orphan baby chimpanzees have been saved after their mothers had been shot by hunters for the bush meat trade. When I was there this last November, I witnessed the release of a 26 year-old female chimpanzee named Coffee into the natural forest; she had lived all these years in a tiny cage, had been very undernourished and consequently her legs were short and deformed and she had many teeth problems. For the first time, she experienced touching real grass and walking out in the forest. Oh my, she was so nervous! It was incredible to watch her hesitate. She obviously loved it after spending all these years in captivity on a cement floor.
    One can learn more about this important project for chimpanzees (and rescued dogs, cats and also children!) by visiting ida-africa.org
    Education will play a big part in Africa to help their animals; I am very thankful that the little Vervet monkeys are in such good hands.
    Thank you again Steve for letting us know about the important work of ARA.

    Ron Marquart says...

    April 30th, 2009, 4:32 pm

    Hey Steve,
    Great article on the Ververts. Let me add to their intelligence from Jared Diamond’s book, “The Third Chimpanzee”, 1992, chapter 8, Bridges to Human Language. Vervets have at least ten putative “words”: they have words for leopard, eagle, snake, baboon, other predatory mammal, unfamiliar human, dominant monkey, subordinate monkey, watch other monkey, and see rival troop. The science-based evidence indicates that the different calls Vervets give in response to these words are intended as communications to other monkeys. They actually have the beginnings of language in their brains. Without a doubt, another primate to be protected from human killing. However, it should be noted that %75 of wild Vervet deaths are caused by predators–especially Martial Eagles.
    Another primate in dire straights is our nearest relative–the Bonobos. In recent decades, their numbers have been reduced by %90. Primarily because of humans and the bushmeat trade.
    I wish there was better news for our primate relatives. Humans need to do better in sharing the Earth with all our animals and plants.

    Ron Marquart, April 30, 2009

    Dish says...

    March 17th, 2012, 12:30 am

    Is this true , did that son of Donald Trump kill
    an elephant this week.Just go a call froma friend & they saw it in the news is this true? I am beyond up set…………….

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