The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Vervet Monkey - Issue Forty-Three
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Vervet Monkey  from Christiano Artuso The Vervet Monkey is native to much of Southern and East Africa, being found from Ethiopia, Somalia and extreme southern South Sudan, to South Africa. They inhabit savanna, riverine woodland, coastal forest, and mountains up to 4000 m. They are adaptable and able to persist in secondary and/or highly fragmented vegetation, including cultivated areas, and sometimes are found living in both rural and urban environments. They eat a primarily herbivorous diet, and live mostly on wild fruits, flowers, leaves, seeds, and seed pods. They may also take advantage of bean, pea, young tobacco, vegetable, fruit, and grain crops and animals such as grasshoppers, termites or eggs and chicks. They have black faces and grey body hair color, ranging in body length from about 40 cm for females who weigh between 3.4 and 5.3 kg, to about 50 cm for males who average a weight of 5.5 kg. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism; the males are larger in weight and body length and may be recognized by a turquoise-blue scrotum. When males reach sexual maturity, they move to a neighboring group while females remain in their groups throughout life. Separate dominance hierarchies are found for each sex. Male hierarchies are determined by age, tenure in the group, fighting abilities, and allies, while female hierarchies are dependent on maternal social status. A large proportion of interactions occurs between individuals that are similarly ranked and closely related. Between unrelated individuals, female competition exists for grooming members of high-ranking families, presumably to gain more access to resources. These observations suggest individual recognition is possible and enables discrimination of genetic relatedness and social status. Interactions between different groups are variable, ranging from highly aggressive to friendly. Furthermore, individuals seem to be able to recognise cross-group vocalisations, and identify from and to which monkey each call is intended, even if the call is made by a subadult male, which is likely to transfer groups. This suggests the members within a group are actively monitoring the activity of other groups, including the movement of individuals within a group. In addition to behavioral research on natural populations, vervet monkeys serve as a nonhuman primate model for understanding genetic and social behaviors of humans. They have been noted for having human-like characteristics, such as hypertension, anxiety, and social and dependent alcohol use. Interestingly, a juvenile scream elicits a reaction from all mothers, yet the juvenile's own mother has a shorter latency in looking in the direction of the scream, as well as an increased duration in her look. Further, mothers have been observed to help their offspring in conflict, yet rarely aid other juveniles. Other mothers evidently can determine to which mother the offspring belongs. Individuals have been observed to look towards the mother whose offspring is creating the scream which suggests a theory of mind. In groups of vervet monkeys, infants are the target of a tremendous amount of attention. Days after an infant is born, every member of the group inspects the infant at least once by touching or sniffing. While all group members participate in infant caretaking, juvenile females that cannot yet menstruate are responsible for the majority of allomothering. Spiteful actions are extremely rare in the animal kingdom. Often, an indirect benefit is gained by the individual acting 'spitefully', or by a close relative of that individual. Vervet monkeys have been observed to destroy a competitor's food source rather than consume or steal it themselves. While energy is being lost on destroying the food, an advantage is obtained by the individual due to an increase in competitive gain. Although according to the IUCN its conversation status is of "least concern," they are used for biomedical research, and many people living in close proximity to vervet colonies see them as pests, as they steal their food.

   


Prayer for My Daughter

by

Iftekhar Sayeed

 

Unborn child!
I would have sent you to school, no doubt, fearing to deprive you of a normal, healthy life.
I would have heard from you after your first day at school, after the first lesson, what the teacher read from the Book:
"If it doesn't pay, don't do it."
I would not have told you otherwise, fearing for your future, your physical safety, and keeping to myself your spiritual poverty to come
Then I would have seen you graduate from school, having learned to overlook and ignore everything that did not come with a reward or threat of punishment
Carrots and sticks
Finally, after high school, even before university, I would have found you corrupt to perfection, a polished product
Like a shining BMW
Factory-produced by the millions
And even then I would not have died of heartache, for some things are untaught
Love

Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English. He was born and lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has contributed to The Danforth Review, Axis of Logic, Enter Text, Postcolonial Text, Southern Cross Review, Opednews.com, Left Curve, Mobius, Erbacce, Down In The Dirt, The Fear of Monkeys and other publications. Somewhat influenced by DHL, he likes to write about the pong of society, as well as its deodorant: Hes tempted at times to describe himself as, and feels himself to be, a pongographer. He is also a freelance journalist. He and his wife love to travel.

 

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