Monkey business

Adventures at an African Lodge

One animal that everyone thinks is “just so cute” is the Vervet monkey. However, this quaint, furry creature with the sweet little black masked face is a true nemesis of the staff members of any game lodge. They will be sure to keep you on your toes and keep you aware of their true nature – extremely intelligent, greedy and just plain naughty.

The monkeys at &Beyond Xaranna took this to a whole new level and it didn’t take me long to dub them – demons in cute furry bodies.

All lodges suffer at the hands of these cheeky primates – they steal food off the buffet or unattended table and sneak into the kitchen or butlers station when no one is looking, leaving a chaotic frenzied mess in their wake. Many an unsuspecting staff member has returned to their house to find what resembles the aftermath of an atomic bomb. New staff learn very quickly not to leave windows open even an inch!

One of the monkey troop’s favorite play grounds at Xaranna Lodge is the guest area bath room. They sneak in and, like a kitten who discovers the fascination of a toilet roll, grab one end of the roll and run into the bush with it unravelling as they go, creating a streamer like effect and ‘decorating’ the surrounding bush.

The mirror always causes great amusement for our furry foe who put their sticky little hands all over the glass creating patterns like finger art. They will lick the glass and rub their face up against it while starring at their reflection. When this is no longer fun they will sit back and chew the leather frame because well – why not?

They love the tissue box and will sit with it between their knees and pull the tissues from the box as fast as they can and watch as the tissues blow away in the wind.

They have learnt how to turn on the taps of the basin. They sit with their bum on one side of the basin and their feet on the other and using their hands gently help themselves to fresh, cool refreshments. It would be most helpful if they had learnt how to turn off the taps as well but alas as yet they have not.

Whilst hosting morning tea in the boma one morning one of our guests, Donna, went to the bathroom. The next thing I heard was a blood curdling scream. Not sure what was causing her terror I ran towards the bathroom, thinking that perhaps a python or a leopard was lurking in there.

I arrived to find her with her back pressed against the vanity area facing the bathroom cubicle with a wide eyed stare. Bravely, I went to investigate the cause of her look of terror only to have a wet and sodden monkey launch itself from the toilet bowl and bolt past me, skid on the floor and high tail it out of the door. Needless to say I couldn’t help it and automatically screamed myself!

I looked at Donna, she looked at me and we both broke into fits of laughter to the point where we were battling to stand. The other guests at this point had come to investigate to find the two of us, tears streaming down our cheeks in fits of giggles trying to explain what had happened.

In the lounge of the guest area there is a wide selection of books all wrapped in brown paper. The monkeys took an extreme dislike of the books. All we can assume is that they did not like the fact that they could not read and enjoy them as our guests do.

They would find great joy in selecting a book of their choice, opening it and with single mindedness and purpose ripping out page after page until someone saw them and stopped the vindictive little primate from causing any further damage.

One warm afternoon I was busy with a check in and I saw a monkey (who looked a little like Inspector Clouseau as he has a perfect little moustache) jump up onto the couch on the other side of the lounge. It looked directly into my eyes, almost smiled and while still staring at me dug its little nails into the brown paper and tore it off the book. It had this look on its face as if to say, “and what are you going to do about it?”

I was in a predicament – what could I actually do? I wanted to jump up and scream at the little tyke and run at him and chase him away but can you imagine how horrified the guest would have been to witness that kind of display instead of the warm, unhurried smooth welcome that is normally given to visitors to the lodge?

So I chose to ignore him and breathe deeply. He obviously found this to be a challenge so moved on to another book and opened it and ripped out a page. That was it. I apologized in advance to Sarah who I was checking in and chased the devil away. He very calmly and with a very smug look on his face simply climbed into the adjacent tree and made himself very comfortable just out of my reach and stared at me. Thankfully Sarah found this to be the most amusing scene of her entire holiday and was nearly in tears with laughter.

The monkeys also loved to chew the leather bound game boxes. They would then open the box and take out the contents of the box and either tear the cards in half one at a time and chew the pieces or randomly throw the contents as far and wide as their throwing arm would allow. One monkey who has a white patch on his nose found great joy in the scrabble pieces. He would go up a tree and empty the contents of the bag onto the ground so we would have to spend ages picking up all the letters one at a time. We eventually lost that battle as he ran off with the whole bag and we have never found it, leaving us without words! On occasion however, when he is back at camp he will drop one or two pieces as if to remind us of his thievery.

There are now have beautiful Kitengela Glass balls that are placed on top of all the game boxes as well as the books. These are too heavy for the monkeys to lift so for the time being we are the victors, but although we may have won that battle we have not won the war. They are much too smart and will figure out how to bypass our methods or find new ways of causing chaos……

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Seranne Slaviero

&Beyond Travel Specialist

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