Go Back > Urban Legends > Critter Country

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 14 November 2007, 10:46 PM
Skeptic's Avatar
Skeptic Skeptic is offline
Join Date: 16 July 2005
Location: Logan, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 1,802

Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: There is a story that says in Africa (and India), the natives use a
technique to catch monkeys. They hollow out one end of a coconut and they
put peanuts in there (I've also heard bananas..but same concept). The
monkey puts his hand in the coconut and when he makes a fist to grab the
peanuts, he's trapped. The natives will pull a string attached to the
other end of the coconut and capture the monkey.

Motivational speakers use this story all the time to inspire people to
"let go" of their old perceptions - since in truth, the monkey was never
trapped. All he had to do was let go of the peanuts.
I saw a documentary on this but there are a few points wrong in the above quote.
The idea was not to catch monkeys, but to find water. The trap was set into a termite mound, with a small tunnel into it for the bait. While the monkey was held he would pick up chunks of salt, and when freed some time later would rush back to his water supply, with out worrying if humans were following him.
I've never heard motivational speakers use this one, but it would not surprise me. Those people are idiots. ( I felt motivated to say that).
Reply With Quote
Old 17 November 2007, 08:26 PM
Posts: n/a

My dad spent a lot of years in Asia when he was in the army when he was in the Vietnam war and afterward and I remember him swearing that monkeys would do this. He told me several times that monkeys are so incredibly greedy they won't let the food go even though keeping it they're trapped.
He never said he had seen this done to a wild monkey, but a bar he used to hang out in in Japan apparently had a monkey that lived there and for amusement they would trap it this way and then tease and aggravate it. Of course this is a tame (annoyed, but tame) monkey, so it wouldn't be scared of the humans, just hungry and probably confused.
You might catch a wild monkey this way if you were very, very fast...I would imagine a wild monkey would try for several seconds to get the food, but would probably give up and run away once the danger (hunter) got too close. If you were able to jump out of somewhere and grab the monkey before it had time to try and fail you might get one. You would probably also get the holy hell bit out of you.
I am fairly sure my father's stories about the bar pet being trapped in this manner are true as I can't see why he would have made it up for no reason. But it would probably be somewhat harder to catch a wild monkey this way.
Reply With Quote
Old 17 November 2007, 09:18 PM
Posts: n/a

I saw the same documentary as Skeptic, on PBS or Discovery or somesuch. Up until I started searching Google, I thought it was real, but now I think the whole thing was staged. The tale seems to symbolize man's greed, or perseverance, depending upon how you look at it.
Reply With Quote
Old 22 November 2007, 07:55 PM
Posts: n/a

There's a scene in one of the old Tarzan movies (Tarzan and the Trappers, 1958, I think) where they demonstrate this technique. The hunters put a nut in clay pots tied to a tree, the monkeys grab the nut and won't let go, the hunters stick the monkeys in a cage and break the clay pots to release the monkeys (but inside the cage). If it's staged it's done remarkably well: You see a bunch of monkeys with their hands stuck in pots and screaming at the top of their lungs because they can't get away.
"Tarzan and the Trappers" (1958?) is actually in public domain now, and can be downloaded free from the Moving Picture Archives at The Internet Movie Archives or a variety of other sites. Gotta say it's almost worth it, if only to see Tarzan riding a baby giraffe. (Note; this film isn't for the PETA crowd).
There's also a great scene of Jane homeschooling 'Boy' in the wilds of Africa:
Boy: "...why do I have to waste my time on Treasure Island?"
(Indeed, when that hungry boa constrictor puppet could well have you for a snack in the morning. It has live elephants, lions and live boa. Marlin Perkins must have rented it that day. But I digress.)


Anyway, the evil trapper catches Cheetah by swatting him with a regular $10.00 aluminum framed fishing net. Not a recommended method for chimps, who may well just fold the net up and beat you with it (I do have some experience with them), but probably works better on small monkeys than waiting for them to stick their hands in a hole.

No monkey traps anywhere in the movie. You now have the curse of 10,000 evil white trappers on your soul for making me watch this.

charlie "my python boots are too tight" 23
Reply With Quote
Old 25 August 2008, 09:32 AM
Posts: n/a

I'm pretty sure you're talking about the 1974 documentary "Animals are Beautiful people", which was directed by Jamie Uys (the guy who did "The Gods Must Be Crazy"). It takes place in the Namib and Kalahari deserts. The scene I think this thread is talking about has a thirsty Kalahari tribesman/bushman fooling a baboon into revealing his closely hoarded secret water cache, by capturing then feeding him salt.

Another memorable scene shows the effect of fermented Marula fruit on a variety of African animals - such as Baboons, Elephants and warthogs... The animals consume a bunch of it, stagger around, eventually pass out, wake up later on with a hang-over and, just like many humans, they actually come back for more! Even though there are a few minutes with all sorts of beasts getting intoxicated on Marula, this is still a good film for children... I loved it when I was one!
Reply With Quote
Old 17 October 2008, 02:17 AM
Posts: n/a

Originally Posted by Barns & No Bull View Post
I'm trying to picture this monkey trap hill. It's not making sense.

If what you say is true, then no monkey has ever removed food from this hill. No monkey has ever even seen another monkey get food from the hill. I'm also curious how the monkey catcher gets the monkey. If the monkey won't let go of the food, does the guy have to cut its arm off?

... and by letting go of the trappings of the motivational speakers - you truly set yourself free.
This is from a documentary directed by South African director Jamie Uys, called "beautiful People" It has been one of my favourites since childhood, IIRC it was made in the late 70s or early 80's.

The scene you refer to goes like this:

Kalahari bushman has some salt (a very valuable resource in the desert environment, and monkeys love it, in fact when you are in a desert environment all the time salt does actually begin to taste good to you - a tactic by your body to ensure you get enough salts and electrolytes into your body for correct muscle function, as lots of salts are lost in sweat. This was evidenced as when I was a small child growing up in a desert country, my mother once found me raiding the pantry for the bag of salt crystals she used to fill the grinder - I remember it tasting so good and having an urge to eat it purely because my body needed it - I don't usually like salt unless I've worked hard in the summer heat.)

The kalahari bushman makes sure monkeys can see what he is doing, and carefully drills out a hole in an old termite mound, monkeys being inquisitive, watch him carefully from a distance, as he puts some salt into the hole he has made, then backs off to wait. Consumed by curiosity, the monkey comes forward after a while and attempts to get the delicious lump of salt from inside the termite mound, as soon as he tries to take it out, the bushman rushes forward and gets a rope around his neck then ties him to a tree. He then lets him eat some salt - plenty of it.

Of course once you've had some salt you get very thirsty - hence the reason the bushman does this - monkeys often know of hidden sources of water which they are very secretive about - once the monkey gets really thirsty and uncomfortable the bushman lets him go and follows him as he rushes to his secret spring of water, thus finding the water for himself.

This is all filmed on the documentary HOWEVER I do not know how much of it was staged. TBH I would have thought the bushman would be just as keen to catch the monkey purely to eat it's meat anyway, or as well.

Reply With Quote
Old 26 October 2009, 08:39 PM
Posts: n/a

I also saw a b&w video on TV of catching monkeys as a kid. I think it was an old travelog/safari movie made 50+ years ago. In it they had jars tied to a stake with a rock in the jar. At least that is how I remember it.

Just a couple of years ago I mentioned this at a conference in Toronto. There was a man who grew up in Angola who said he had seen the method used.
Reply With Quote
Old 29 October 2009, 03:02 PM
DawnStorm's Avatar
DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
Join Date: 11 March 2003
Location: Montgomery County, MD
Posts: 17,014

Originally Posted by Barns & No Bull View Post
How to catch an elephant...

Equipment needed:

Coke bottle

Directions: Walk around Africa until you find an elephant. Get as close as you can without endangering yourself. Look at the elephant through the wrong end of the binoculars. Pick up the elephant with the tweezers and drop him in the bottle.

This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know
--Groucho Marx from Animal Crackers
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 07:19 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.