Change is inevitable and this is certainly the case at Esperanza Verde, it keeps us on our feet and days are never boring. August saw volunteer numbers dropping dramatically as the effects of Covid on travelling to Peru remain in place. With all of the practice of having reduced volunteers over the last year, the team was up to the challenge and adapted as necessary. Travel restrictions are getting more flexible now so if you have some time to offer and feel like visiting (or revisiting!) Esperanza Verde to experience animal care and rescue first hand in the middle of the rainforest; we, and the animals need you!
It was that time again where all the white winged parakeets in Tupak enclosure needed catching, assessing, a quick parasite treatment and then, where possible, the ultimate outcome of being released. Of the remaining 21 birds from our last big delivery of seized birds, 14 were deemed to have the necessary flight capabilities to return to the great outdoors and life as it is intended. It is truly humbling every day to hear parakeets flying free around Esperanza Verde knowing that they were fortunate enough to have been given a second chance.
It was time for Wayra, the young female ocelot, to become more comfortable with different surroundings. Being a wild animal, even though young, she quickly was outgrowing the territory of the family house. We brought her to spend the days in the Pedro enclosure, formerly used by Grety and Diego, our two margays. For the evenings she returned to the family home, progressing to her permanent residence in Pedro. As she is unable to be released and is still young, the Esperanza Verde no touch policy has been relaxed ensuring this transition for Wayra is as stress free as possible, in turn giving volunteers a chance for more personal contact with what is a truly beautiful animal. As Wayra becomes more accustomed to her surroundings the no touch policy will come to the fore again ensuring both animal and volunteer wellbeing and safety, as a fully grown ocelot can become very tricky to deal with. Read on for one more reason why it is essential Wayra becomes comfortable in a real enclosure.
Sumo our resident South American Coati got a new companion this month when Punsho was released from the quarantine. The initial release of Punsho away from the main areas of EV went smoothly with the intention of him moving into the jungle and becoming self-sufficient. Punsho however, had other ideas, and quickly discovered the volunteer house and all the exciting things occurring there. Plan ‘B’ was to introduce Sumo and Punsho to one another, and our concern of two males not being able to accept each other’s presence was unfounded. Both coatis are now seen throughout the day playing with a seemingly eternal amount of energy. Releasing any wild animal is not without risks and a lesson hard learnt in this instance is that if a coati decides he wants your compost or food bucket you need to let him have it. Janick, our current long-term volunteer, got in the middle of such a dispute, resulting in a bite in his leg. With a fully equipped clinic at Esperanza Verde a few stiches were quickly put in place and with the right medical care Janick was up again in no time.
Anybody who has volunteered at Esperanza Verde in the previous two years would know the pirouetting, attention seeking and somewhat hilarious Takari, one of our young male black spider monkeys.Takari came to us as a small awkward looking monkey. Over the two years he was here, he grew and became an ever-present part of our growing spider monkey troop. Unfortunately, one afternoon he was seen to have a small drop of blood on his face and again later with similar fresh blood. Takari, being a successful graduate of the EV no touch policy was very wary of the sudden attention from us trying to have a better look. He did not let us come too close, and as he still seemed to be his playful self, we left him with the others. Unfortunately that afternoon it was the last time he was seen. We found his remains a few days later and, although a necropsy was not possible anymore, we think he might have experienced a fall sustaining an injury which resulted in his demise. As with any animal loss, it was a sad day and as his behaviour did not change whatsoever prior to his disappearance we can only hope that he did not suffer.
Payco, (male crab eating raccoon) was released again to enjoy the best of both worlds. Freedom from the confines of Pepe enclosure with the added benefit of having an evening meal delivered to a nearby feeding platform. Payco has been seen frequently in the evenings since his release and is showing no signs of any issues relating to his previous altercations of only a month ago. It was an amazing and quick recovery and rehabilitation thanks to his strength and all the help from the whole medical team at EV.
SUST Animal Orphan Hospital
Somebody made the mistake last month mentioning that the SUSTOAH was quieter than it had been in previous months. Call it fate, call it karma, or just a case of ask and you shall receive.
Between a trip from Olivia to the Ministry of Flora and Fauna in Pucallpa to pick up newly confiscated animals, two displaced yellow footed tortoises being handed over from locals and another orphaned crab eating raccoon from a nearby plantation, the clinic returned to its full capacity. Proving time and time again how vital the support to fund the day to day clinic operations provided by the Suzy Utzinger Foundation from Switzerland is, and, how incredibly grateful we are that there are special people like you supporting Esperanza Verde and the work we do.
The first two animals Olivia brought back were two monkeys. Dilana a juvenile female Spix´s white fronted capuchin monkey came with an injured right arm, which appeared to have been broken previously and is now fused. Dilana was kept company by Maloha, a young female Humboldt’s woolly monkey. Both monkeys served their time in quarantine and as the month came to a close were moved to the outside Pepe enclosure. Pepe enclosure is perfectly situated in an area of high monkey interaction, allowing both Dilana and Molaha ample opportunity to interact with many of the existing outside monkeys while still living within the safety of the enclosure, prior to being released to enjoy all the freedom that Esperanza Verde provides.
The third animal to be picked up by Olivia was Gaia, a very young female ocelot. Still in need of a full time mother she was taken in by Olivia and Douwe, like Wayra had been only a few months earlier. Although both are of the same species, Wayra is a lot bigger than Gaia so introductions need to be done slowly and heavily monitored. While Wayra is slowly being acclimatised to enclosure living it gives Gaia time and space to grow and explore freely within the family home.
Cats like these, raised from a very young age by humans, have not learned the necessary hunting skills from their mother, neither the dangers of the wild, to be able to survive in the wild. We hope Gaia and Wayra will be able to give each other company soon, as it is already clear to us, while still being interactive at this age with Wayra, that we humans are not made to be their partners for the long run.
For some animals, Esperanza Verde is only a short transition station. Local people know that we are taking care of the local wildlife, and, fortunately there are enough people like us who want to protect them. Sometimes a healthy animal is received, after being taken out of the wild recently. This can happen when the person is concerned of the animal safety, e.g. when it might be taken by people to be eaten. Generally these animals can be translocated directly, being released again in the safe surrounding of Esperanza Verde. This was the case with two yellow footed tortoises that were handed over from a local plantation. Before translocation, as all animals received at EV, they are checked and should be given a clean bill of health prior to release. Both tortoises were positive for parasites so were treated first until they were given the all clear. They were released and could be seen seemingly relishing in their freedom again.
Similarly, a sub-adult pygmy anteater found its way through Esperanza Verde. When people were cutting down its natural habitat this animal found itself without a home. A good Samaritan brought it to us, and after we saw that it was well and healthy, we released it to the safer surroundings of EV.
So with the clinic full, the family house being taken over by ocelots, another arrival, Takido, a two month old Crab eating raccoon came to live in the assistant manager’s residence with Alexandra. Takido was handed over by someone from a neighbouring village. His story is like many other animals ending up in our care. His mother had been killed in an animal trap, leaving the baby behind. Early progress was slow and Takido didn’t appear to be putting on size as with our other previous racoon acquisitions, but with perseverance from Alex and other volunteers in her absence, Takido is being introduced to solid foods and began to put on weight. Takido now spends days in the outdoor Lucia enclosure enjoying the sun and fresh air before returning to Alex’s cabin for the evenings.
Prosthenorchis Elegans… as the month began you could be forgiven for thinking these two words and all they entailed were about to claim another victim in Moyo (adult male Humboldts woolly monkey). Moyo’s condition had deteriorated significantly and anybody with extra time on their hands along with dedicated clinic volunteers and staff were taking turns hand feeding Moyo to try and encourage him to add bulk to his emaciated, frail frame. He was free of any infestation but the toll had been huge and every time you returned to the clinic to find Moyo still alive seemed an absolute wonder. Moyo was given a course of pain relief to make him more comfortable and this appeared the turning point in his recovery. At the end of August, it is visually obvious we are still treating the same monkey, but his attitude and presence has changed dramatically. Moyo is now eager for his food and vitamin supplements and is not shy to make noises if he is not getting the attention and service he deserves in a timely fashion. If you ever needed proof to never give up, Moyo and his previous few months is a great reminder. His stay will continue in the SUSTOAH until his weight has reached an acceptable level and his eating habits have returned to normal.
Construction and other
Geyler had the majority of August off to work on his own properties, and while this left us short one highly competent worker, it proved yet again Esperanza Verde is a team effort relying on all of the small pieces working together. With the addition of a new local worker, Douwe was able to pick up where Geyler left off. Another room has been readied for cement, water has been secured for the plantation Finca Don Jorge after initial supply issues, and a location for a new enclosure is being developed to accommodate the two ocelots in the coming months without encroaching on the space available for our two resident Margays.
Dex and Rose, two volunteers from The Netherlands finished their painting adorning the entrance to the volunteer house. This latest painting is a welcome addition to the already impressive collection of murals around Esperanza Verde.
Marlon had his first attendance at the local school since finishing in December 2019, and although only for a one week trial it is a stark reminder that Covid 19 and it ramifications are ongoing and being felt in so many different ways by everybody in every situation.
We are so very thankful for the ongoing support we receive from around the globe. All support in whatever form it takes is gratefully received and is vital for the ongoing care and attention each and every animal receives at Esperanza Verde.
Caring for wild animals that were pets before, trying to re-adapt them again does not always come without trouble. Generally, human error is involved from the beginning that they were captured until the time they are ready again to be with their own species and live outside. All the doors at Esperanza Verde have a special system to prevent any of these individuals to enter and remind them the ‘fun’ they had in the home of their previous owner. This month Douwe and Marlon walked out of the family house and somehow made the rooky mistake of leaving the door unlocked. It did not take Mica, the first monkey arriving at EV, long to figure this out, letting herself in. Alex heard the noise, but with the door closed, she at first thought Douwe and Marlon were in there. But on further inspection, as the noise was a bit too much, she found two monkeys inside. One directly ran out, while Mica was still finishing up reorganizing Olivia’s home-office. Luckily, they did not do anything to endanger themselves, just gave enough mess to keep Alex and Olivia busy for the rest of the day.
August is the month where Esperanza Verde is back to the low numbers of volunteers with only two joining in with the daily animal care and maintenance. It is always a great feeling knowing that so much can be achieved by so few and we are appreciative for any and all help given. Taking this opportunity to thank Craig Bright for being with us here all this time. He has been with us now for several years, volunteering first time in 2018, coming back in 2019, shortly revisiting his home country New Zealand, and staying with us now since February 2020, he has become part of our little family, and as well of the bigger animal family, helping us at all times, with whatever is needed at whatever time, never fussing or complaining….well until a certain point, and of course sharing a beer or two helps a lot as well in the process for keeping it all light at the heavier times. Thank you Craig, and we are happy you have decided to become our permanent neighbour, building your own place in Bello Horizonte.
This month we would like to mention another special and now long-term volunteer: Janick Jaussi, from Switzerland. He volunteered at EV for the first time in 2018, and decided to come back to help and realize a very special personal project at the same time. Please read the next article to know more about him and his project !