By Al Qalam Reporter
A huge natural forest at Shakaskraal/Glendale area on the KwaZulu-Natal has been earmarked for a free-roaming primate sanctuary – a sister body of the popular Monkeyland in “The Craggs” near Plettenberg Bay. The sanctuary will open to the public in November.
In an exclusive interview with Al Qalam, Lara Mostert, spokesperson for the project said Monkeyland is the world’s first and largest free-roaming primate sanctuary hosting 11 species and over 550 primates. There are possible plans to add a world-class freeflight Aviary adjacent to the Moneyland forest where numerous species of birds can be spotted in natural environment among the trees.
Professional guides will take visitors on hour-long guided tours into the expansive natural forest. Monkeyland-KZN is located about 10km from Ballito and about 20km from King Shaka Airport.
Monkeyland in Plettenberg Bay is currently the top eco-tourism attraction on the Garden Route, and it is hoped that Monkeyland-KZN could also clinch that title for this region.
A public announcement and official launch will made as soon as all work is completed, said Lara.
Speaking exclusively to Al Qalam at the Indaba 2018 tourism show in Durban – where Monkeyland has a stand – Lara said her team is busy preparing infrastructure at the forested site, and they hope to open in time for the summer holidays.
She said the need for a second Monkeyland sanctuary has become more urgent over the last couple of years.
“As more people are educated about why a pet monkey is not a good idea, the curators at Monkeyland Plettenberg Bay has seen an increase in calls from people wanting a better future for their pet monkeys. Thus, the mission at Monkeyland-KZN will continue to be one of education for a greater understanding of our primate cousins and the threats they are facing. Not only education about the pet trade, but also the bush meat trade, deforestation, etc.,” she said.
Monkeyland-KZN will offer monkey safari tours during which visitors will be able to spot many species of primates comprising of capuchin monkeys, ringtail and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, buffy-cheeked gibbons, squirrel monkeys and howler monkeys in their jungle home.
Visitors will also get to experience walking on a suspended wooden bridge over the “river of dreams”. There will be a restaurant at the reception area, a souvenir store, ethic home crafters village, a Zulu village, children’s play area and an environmental theatre. The disabled will be able to visit for free.
The sanctuary will also provide much needed employment for people living in the area, including those making handcrafts for the curio shop at the sanctuary which forms part of the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance(SAASA).
Meanwhile, the project co-ordinators – all from the Cape – are staying at a rented house in Shakaskraal – and loving the village lifestyle.
Lara said when she woke early one morning, she heard the call of the Fajr azaan.
“It’s the most beautiful and soothing sound I’ve heard. We didn’t know what the melodious sounds were at first, but later learnt it was the Muslim call to prayer. We just threw our windows and doors open for the sound to filter in,” she added