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Had a WONDERFUL day today, just what the Dr ordered.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My son had a drumming gig to do on Tuesday and asked if I would like to go with to a place called Swartvlei. He asked me to take some photo's of this drumming session because its a new contact and has big possibilities and once I had done that, I would be free to explore the resort. I didn't need a second invite. I jumped into comfy clothes, hiking shoes, grabbed my camera thankful that I keep it charged and packed in an apple snack in the event I got hungry because this place is nowhere near shops.

Swartvlei is the largest and deepest lake in the Wilderness National Park. It is connected to the sea for 6 months of the years, before the mouth silts closed for the rest of the year. Swartvlei is the ideal spot for nature lovers.
My word I discovered the truthfulness of that statement.
Let me tell you about my awesome day and its affects on me.

We drove into mist and Daniel started worrying that the gig might cancel if it rained. The Swartvlei area is known for its pleasant temperate climate and moderate rainfall throughout the year so rain was a possibility, however, we were really hoping the rain would not arrive in the next 3 days because the drumming would be outdoors...and it thankfully didn't rain.

We arrived and as the boom opened and we got our first view of the Swartvlei camp.

There were to be kids everywhere (150 to be exact) running around the place, and thought they weren't there when we arrived the came about 30 minutes later.

This is Daniel's "corner" of the camp events, drumming under the trees.

The plan was for the co-coordinators to get the kids into their groups. 50 per group.
One group would be drumming while another was canoing on the lake and I wasn't exactly sure what the last group were doing, possibly hiking.

Almost immediately after our arrival the FUN began. A troop of Vervet monkeys arrived and boy did they get naughty. Troops are commonly +-50, this was a small troop at +-20.

Vervet monkeys and are relatively small in size weighing in at +-6-8kgs (17pounds) they are grey in color with black faces and paws but born black with pink faces. Their diet tends to be omnivorous, feeding on fruit, flowers, leaves and insects, which constitutes the bulk of their diet.....really? emoticon

The following pictures tell their own story...the very MODERN Vervet monkeys.

There is always that ONE brave creature....braver than the others.
This little chap ventured right into the hut with Daniel and I standing really close by.

And out he came with the spoils of victory.

Not wanting to share he hopped onto Daniels vehicle....but see the innocent little monkey to the left of the picture?

He was little but he fought hard and stole the food.
Shame, but I guess its the fittest of the jungle survival stuff going on.

Interesting info on these little guys is that Vervets are highly social animals, and occur in well organized troops, dominated by males. Access to prime food recourses is determined by the dominance hierarchy. We saw that in the previous picture.

I was a bit concerned about the monkeys on the cars because they can be quite destructive, but I needn't have worried, all this lot had on their minds was FOOD and the easy access they had to it with the kids out of camp. I was still thinking about what to do when the monkey leaped to get more food. I am so happy that I had my camera up at the same time he took his flying leap.

(We did inform the coordinator but he was little bothered, so therefore so were we....turned out the kids on the camp have loads of money and just bought stuff from the tuck shop on the bus)
This is lollipop monkey.

Then there was the 2-minute noodle monkey.

This monkeys got such a beautiful little face.

He looks like hes praying for his food. emoticon

Just like humans, you also get that ONE that must have more than his fair share, but oh soooo cute. They were so close and barely bothered about us at all.

He must have thought I wanted some of what he had, because he looked directly at the camera, grabbed all his food and headed for the rooftop. If I could speak monkey, I'd have
told him I'm eating healthy and that his junk food was safe from me.

The kids eventually came back oblivious to what had taken place and the monkeys took off into the safety of the trees.

The ruins they left behind.

The monkeys didn't leave the area once the humans arrived, they just moved out of reach. There is a possibility that this one may have wanted to join in the fun activities.

Some of the monkeys chose to lie around and sun themselves on the rooftops. Grooming is important in a monkey's life. Vervets (as well as most other primates) spend several hours a day removing parasites, dirt or other material from one another's fur.
In the primates' hierarchy, dominant individuals get the most grooming.

This little one seemed to be playing peek-a-boo with me.

Eventually he got brave enough to show himself completely.

It almost seems as if this monkey has its paw over its mouth....I'd love to know what it was thinking.

These two enjoyed climbing the wash lines and then surveying the park and its people.

Females do not leave their natal group, but males emigrate from the troop at puberty which means that most troops are predominantly female. I didn't see any babies attached to mothers, so all these monkeys, even the little ones are teenagers and older. That meant, lots of sexual and dominance displays of the vervet monkeys could be heard while they ran the gamut from shaking branches and jumping around to making a hard 'kek-kek-kek' sound to mark their territories. I heard and saw quite a bit of the tree shaking stuff but the pictures I got of the monkeys in the trees are dark or blurred.

No need to worry about that, they help themselves.

Did You Know Question?
Vervet monkeys living near areas inhabited by people can become pests, stealing food and other items and raiding crops. Good climbers, jumpers and swimmers, they often elude capture. HA HA HA we do NOW!

Other interesting facts :
Vervet monkeys mate during a specific time period of the year. The mating season varies somewhat with geographic location but is roughly April – June in wild African vervets. This allows for infants to be born after the rainy season when more food is typically available.

Both older brothers and older sisters defend their younger siblings. Like other primates, Vervet monkeys sleep in trees at night. They prefer trees in wooded areas that are around 7-8 m in height.

Females give birth every 1 to 2 years. They cycle every 32.5 days and menstruate like women. Cycles are regular during the breeding season and usually irregular the rest of the year. Males are sexually mature at the age of 5 but are more likely to mate when they are a bit older and fully-grown.

There was a lot more to the Swarvlei outing, but I'll have to do it in stages because my week is jam packed with stuff and if I sit behind the pc all the time, I will get nothing else done.
But good enough to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my solitary hours I spent there communing with nature. I also must say I ended up walking 7.2kms (4.47miles) all in all.
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