The big eyes made me stop momentarily. I took a pace back and stared inside the thicket. In between streams of dappled sunlight, those two innocent ovals peered back at me with a mixture of curiosity and anxiety. They disappeared as the mother of the young infantile vervet monkey clutched him tightly to her chest. She was now the same as every other mother on earth, emotionally bound to her newborn. For 6 months the foetus had been in the making and now he had finally arrived, binding the two monkeys with a thread of life that cannot be denied. The newborn had begun another cycle of life at Londolozi and so with it the endless struggle for life, evolution, process and ultimately procreation.
The social nature of these animals willed them to take an active interest in the young monkey. Much like the familial relatives cooing over a young baby, these monkeys touched, groomed, cuddled and played with him. Infatuated with the priceless gift of a new member to the troop, they were compelled to give of their attention. I saw members of my own world in these monkeys, lost to social norms and simply caught up in love for something unique and fresh.
What would the life of this monkey hold? Would he grow up to be a dominant male in the group or pioneer his own troop elsewhere in Londolozi? He certainly held with him the ambitions of his mother, her unending care and concern for him told me that much. Would he be able to harness the skills of maturity rapidly enough to understand potential danger and remove himself from it? As with any other living, breathing lifeform, the challenges are all the same, yet they are simply painted a different shade. Although this might be just another monkey born in early spring, he is also a metaphor for every animal that takes its first breath into a world where survival and proliferation is essentially the only purpose. Whatever his path is in life, we look forward to watching him develop with great interest.
Filmed by: Rich Laburn
Photography: Rich Laburn
Written by: Rich Laburn