August was another great month, with a changing team of volunteers coming into their own and getting the hang of what is required when running a rescue centre. The dry season has kicked in and the amount of leaves on the ground shows that the flora is really feeling the effects. Even with everybody doing their best at water conservation it still needs to be pumped from the small stream every few days.
August was a continuation of July’s primate behaviour, with a lot of noise and bravado from monkeys trying to impress us. One again demonstrating that they should never have been with people in the first place!
La Sapa seemed to be where all the action was this month. Biko and Rayko (young male large headed capuchins) were moved from the clinic and joined Apollo (adult male large headed capuchin), Kres (female large headed capuchin) and Nando (male white fronted capuchin) in La Sapa. Although we’d rather have them outside, it is rewarding to watch these rescued animals all interacting well and apparently enjoying their enclosure.
Following on from last months debate regarding Loki (male woolly monkey) the decision was made to enclose him. His behavior was a constant worry and we have to consider both human and animal safety.
Initially Loki was put in with Rimaq and Lucio (our adult male spider monkeys). Experience has taught us that careful observation was required as spider monkeys can be unpredictable when dealing with other adult males. Around dusk, Rimaq and Lucio decided to chase Loki. The situation was quickly controlled as Olivia acted instantly and there were no injuries. So much for a happy family of monkeys! The second choice was to put Loki in La Sapa with the group of capuchin monkeys (Nando, Apollo, Kres, Biko, and Rayko). Although looking unhappy being enclosed again, Loki fitted well within this group and is certainly the alpha, dominating the feeding table. This was only a short-term option as the capuchins were set to be released later this month. But even this was not to be… Unfortunately because of a momentary lack of concentration, all six monkeys were prematurely released from the enclosure. Sometimes animals can’t wait…
Despite the premature release everything seemed to be going fine to begin with but unfortunately on one day Apollo didn’t back off when Olivia was walking past and attacked her. Apollo ran off and fortunately Olivia avoided bites and only suffered some scratches. Since he’s been out he has not gone into the trees and his unpredictable behaviour and short fuse make him a potential danger to us. It seems that just like Loki he may have to be an animal enclosed for everyone’s safety. We can’t blame the animals for this, as their behaviour is the fault of the people who decided to take a wild animal as a pet. Apollo is back in La Sapa enclosure.
Not everything was sad though! Nando found the company of our adult female white fronted capuchin, Chaira, whilst Biko and Rayko are enjoying the outside and seem to be fine with the outside group of capuchins. We hope with some time and effort from us, we can teach these young capuchins to concentrate on their own species. We consider this one of the most important jobs here and is the reason for our no touch policy. If we can break these animals of their attachment to humans then we can avoid permanently enclosing them in the future.
Locking animals in cages is never a decision taken lightly. When animals have been taken from their natural environment, their behaviours may have been modified either intentionally or otherwise. They are “damaged”, often both physically and mentally. Rescue Centres like Esperanza Verde are the last link in the chain. Rehabilitation and release is an amazing feeling, but with some animals, release can result in death, either swiftly from a predator or slowly as the animal does not have the skills needed to fend for themselves. There are no easy decisions and we have to rely on our experience and expertise to guide us.
Cumala (adult female black spider monkey), who was in the Rimaq enclosure with the males this year, was released, along with Cesar a young male spider monkey. He was soon seen playing with the other baby spider monkey Katinka and has been seen interacting with with Cumala as well.
We now have separate Howler monkey and Saki monkey enclosures. Darwin and Ramon (male red howler monkeys) were moved so that there was space for Armando to spend the night with them. This was a big step for Armando as he is finally spending nights in an outdoors enclosure. Whilst nervous at first, once relaxed it was so adorable to see all three monkeys sleeping together. Armando still has a dedicated volunteer each day looking after his needs and keeping an eye on him. He can often be seen climbing or playing with other monkeys which is fantastic for his development and something we envisage will only get better and better.
With the howlers moved out there was room for Tito (male equatorial saki monkey) to move from the clinic into Roko with Yuria our female saki monkey. The initial hope was that these two monkeys would form a bond as a couple. Both monkeys united quickly but in more of a mother and son capacity. The door was opened to see of they fancied exploring. They didn’t, but the outside monkeys were delighted to go in to their enclosure and help themselves to the saki food! Anyway after being hassled enough we closed the door again, but it’ll open up again tomorrow. We will let you know in the next update how it went….
Rino, Celia and Merida (male and two female collared peccaries) made the big move into Xena enclosure with our resident peccaries, Timo, Kohana and Roxanna (male and two females). Introducing new peccaries to an existing group is always a high-risk period, as it is not always without conflict. Thankfully all went well and it seems the oldest female, Kohana, is taking an interest in the newcomers, but a real peccary hug has still to be seen between them all.
Moving the peccaries from the Rincay enclosure allowed the opportunity for the ten largest yellow footed tortoises to be moved back again, with Pepito, our “alpha” tortoise, leading the group of course. This allowed for more freedom for all involved. Tortoise ‘hunting’ is always a favourite job for the volunteers, as not only does it give the opportunity of contact with such interesting animals, but it is also a chance to share some knowledge about the species.
Tandoori (female tamandua or lesser anteater) was another August success. Coming from the Ministry a little less than two months ago, Tandoori was weak and not eating properly. A mixed diet of termites and a special power mix of proteins and carbohydrates saw a remarkable difference in Tandoori’s energy levels, and prior to release you could see her destroying termite nests on a daily basis.
Aldo and Afra (scarlet macaw) made the move from the clinic this month joining the remaining macaws and amazons in Pichu aviary. When these two came to EV they had been residing in a small cage that didn’t give them the chance to even stretch their wings. Although not able to be released into the wild, it is great to see these two now with the space to fly freely and socialise at will.
Asan and Ramara (blue and yellow macaw) were the last to be moved from the Pichu aviary, and after one day in the clinic to be chipped and for a general check up, they got moved to the Elmo enclosure. They both seem to be settling in well
After a few walks with Mokwai and Rumani (crab eating raccoons), where they just decided to stay out, and come back when they felt like it, we made the decision to give them some greater freedom. We have started to leave the door open each night allowing the racoons to come and go as they please, while putting their food in at night. At daybreak, Craig would then come and close the cage, with them in it or, not. It was beautiful to see how quickly they got used to this system. They sometimes came and some nights didn’t, maybe dependent on what they managed to catch that night in the stream.
Mastina (female agouti) was moved from her enclosure under the long term volunteer’s residence to join the tortoises in the reptile enclosure. We’ve had success in releasing agoutis from this enclose before. The fence is low enough for them to come and go, but high enough to offer protection if they need it. Mastina took the chance of freedom on the second day, but was found dead nearby two days later, possibly from a dog attack. An extremely unfortunate reminder of the stark truth, that regardless of the precautions taken, releasing animals comes with a high degree of risk, of which we learn in a harsh kind of way.
SUST Animal Orphan Hospital
The concern with empty cages within the SUSTAOH, is that somehow they all tend to fill up when you are least prepared for it. August was a great month with so many animals being released into either bigger enclosures or complete freedom.
Leo (male squirrel monkey) spent less than a month in captivity while his arm and fingers healed. At the time of release Leo had started moving his arm again, and although the two fingers weren’t being used they certainly looked better than the day he arrived when we feared he would lose them. He joined his group again, and we hope, with breeding season ending and him having learned a lesson, he will avoid any fights with bigger males.
Mashi and Almira (male and female woolly monkey) are still within the SUSTAOH but are now awaiting space to free up in an outside cage so they can have more contact and visits by all the outside monkeys. This is an important stage in their release as it will allow them to bond with the released group.
Smyke (yellow footed river turtle) has moved back to the clinic from the Aguatena. Although not as comfortable as the purpose built Aguatena, by having Smyke close to the clinic it is easier to monitor the injury on his leg that currently requires antibiotics.
One of the new arrivals this month was a baby yellow footed tortoise, which was found on Geilers, one of EV’s workers, plantation. As tortoises are still eaten locally Geiler brought the tortoise to EV for its own safety. It wasn’t around long enough to even receive a name, and after a quick check to ensure it was healthy the tortoise was released behind the family house where it is able to live in relative safety.
The other new arrival for the month is Takari a small male spider monkey who is less than six months old. Takari was found by a lady in Pucallpa who came across him when she discovered some hunters preparing what is believed to be his mother for eating. Having saved the baby he was handed over to us and is now in the same cage as the woolly monkeys Almira and Mashi. Takari looks to be settling in well and plays actively with the two other baby monkeys.
Another short arrival was a very young baby peccary. She was found by locals from the village and handed over to us. They only had her for a few days but already had severe diarrhoea. Although she seemed lively and was actively drinking a special dehydration mixture, she died the next day. Too young to be without her proper mother.
Construction and other
The bridge between the bodega and volunteer kitchen was completed this month. Douwe, Geiler and Jeremie (one of the handier volunteers) did a fantastic job and a whole lot of heavy lifting to get the job completed with very little disruption to the daily activities going on around EV. One of the main benefits of the new cement bridge is that there is no concern of the beams rotting or being eaten by termites. Only one more hand rail is required before yet another major construction project can be added to the completed list.
Last month in the quarantine a dedicated contractor was obtained to complete a layer of cement over the brick work to ensure water proofing and ease of cleaning. Unfortunately the contractor finished prior to the completion of the task at hand. Both Geiler and Jeremie handled it in their stride and work on the cement layer has not missed a beat. The first layer of cement was completed this month leaving only a smooth coat to be completed by Douwe and Geiler in September. It is always amazing the talents and skill that come through when dealing with such a great number of volunteers.
Again this month we had a special visit from a local conservation group named ‘Vida Verde’. This is an initiative to bring young people together to help conserve nature. They come together every week and organise days in which they go collect garbage, at the beach of the river Ucayali in Pucallpa for example. Showing this group around really demonstrated how important education is. It’s amazing to see these young people, so full of energy and motivation to help conserve nature and its inhabitants.
August was the last month many volunteers would have with Olivia before she heads away on a well-deserved 6 week holiday, leaving Douwe, Alex (returning assistant manager) and Craig (our long-term assistant) at the helm. What better excuse to have a get together and another attempt at a quiz night…