Aspects of the ecology and persistence of vervet monkeys in mosaic urban landscapes in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Pillay, Kerushka Robyn.
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The geological era in which we live is termed the Anthropocene and is causing the greatest loss of biodiversity and species brought on by a single species: Homo sapiens. The human population places great demands on the environment, altering and modifying it to suit people’s needs. Urbanisation is one of the greatest anthropogenic land-use modifications, predominantly for infrastructure and housing developments. This results in the loss of natural green spaces where wildlife lives, forcing them into smaller fragmented habitats, often having to share the urban mosaic landscape with humans. These increased interactions often lead to humanwildlife conflict. Generally, urbanisation affects species negatively. However, some species exhibit the ability to persist in urban areas, successfully utilising resources for their natural life traits. One such primate species persisting in urban mosaic landscapes is the vervet monkey, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, particularly in the eThekwini Municipality, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. Increased human population growth and associated urban transformation have increased contact between humans and troops of vervet monkeys using residential and industrial gardens. This has led to increased human-wildlife conflict, with vervet monkeys often persecuted because of their damage to human property and harassment. Little is known about the ecology of urban vervet monkeys, so to assess and manage this wildlife conflict, a need to determine the behavioural ecology and persistence of vervet monkeys were investigated in this study. This study analysed vervet monkeys' spatial ecology in the mosaic urban-forest landscape and provided insight into their home ranges and habitat use here. Additionally, the effects of anthropogenic activities and human-wildlife conflict on wild vervet monkeys were documented. The results contribute to understanding the foundation of human-vervet conflict resolution programmes and support for further education and coexistence with wildlife in mosaic urban landscapes. The conservation of vervet monkeys should be supported by all who live in these areas, not by some factions. The presence of primates, such as the vervet monkey, that use managed green spaces, such as gardens, in the eThekwini Municipality should provide the public with the ultimate catalyst and insight into protecting and conserving this species and others for future generations. Overall, the results presented in this thesis provide an understanding of the persistence of this Old World primate in mosaic urban landscapes.