The Samango Monkey Research Project was born as a collaborative initiative between FREEME KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (NPO/PBO) and the Darwin Primate Group (NPO). The project is supported solely by the Darwin Primate Group. The project’s fieldwork is headed by primate naturalist Karin Saks (Darwin Primate Group) in conjunction with Dave Brammage. Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal will assist in DNA analysis of samango faecal samples that will be collected in the field.
Karin Saks has years of experience in the fostering and rehabilitation of rescued orphaned or injured baboons and vervet monkeys. Observing primates and learning how to communicate with them, she has gained profound insights into primate behaviour and social structures.
Her work with baboons in the Magaliesberg area between 1997 and 2007 is the subject of the book Life with Darwin and Other Baboons by Fransje van Riel, published in 2003 by Penguin Random House (South Africa) and now available as an ebook.
Between 2008 and 2014, under the auspices of the Darwin Primate Group, Karin worked in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned vervet monkeys and baboons in the Western Cape. In the face of increasing conflict between humans and wild primates, stemming from many factors, including persecution, loss of habitat, easy access to human-provided food, and humans misunderstanding primate social structures, Karin has worked to promote ways of co-existing harmoniously with wild monkeys and baboons.
In November 2007, she participated in a documentary on her work with baboons, filmed by Firecracker Films. This was first screened in the United Kingdom in April 2009 and has since been screened elsewhere.
Since moving to KwaZulu-Natal, Karin no longer works in the field of primate rescue and rehabilitation, but instead is bringing her extensive knowledge of wild primates to the Samango Monkey Research Project in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Her background uniquely equips her to lead the project’s fieldwork and intern and volunteer programme.
In addition to her work for the Samango Monkey Research Project, Karin is currently taking a course in Primatology at the Academy of Distance Learning, based in Canterbury, England.