January has been the month where the Amazon appears to have opened its lungs and embraced new beginnings. Rainy season officially started in October but January seems to the first month where rain has really begun and mosquitoes paid a visit in large numbers. Although many of the days have had rain, it is often followed by beautiful sunshine meaning we are treated to abundant new growth where ever we look. While the world holds its breath for the latest round of Covid restrictions, we can be grateful for the small miracles happening all around us.
Last month we moved our three young male peccaries into their new purpose-built enclosure. This month the fence was opened allowing for Maccus, Conan and Alaric to be joined by the existing resident group of white collared peccary. While introducing new peccaries to the group is often tense and unpredictable, this was not the case this time. All animals are interacting well and revelling in the new enclosure.
The new enclosure also gained an identity this month and is now known as NOROC. Named after the dog of Suzy Utzinger whose foundation generously financed the construction of this vital new enclosurealong with their on-going funding for the Esperanza Verde clinic, SUSTOAH.
Although no new animals joined the ranks at Esperanza Verde this month, there is always plenty to do and plenty going on to observe. So let’s take some time to highlight one of our monkey groups here.
There isn’t a day goes past where each of our 12 Humboldt’s woolly monkeys living freelyaren’t sighted enjoying the security and sustenance made available to them at Esperanza Verde. We have 5 males and 7 females living semi wild at Esperanza Verde. Some have been with us already for almost 5 years, like the three now adult females; Chiquita, Lupa and Samara. Chiquita has conquered an episode at the clinic during that time of infestation by no-other than Prosthenorchis Elegans (the nasty parasite we mentioned earlier). She survived and thrived to the beautiful and strong female she has become.Every monkey develops different habits and characteristics and it is incredible to watch their interactions within everyday life. Lumisha, the youngest of the bunch, has gone from a juvenile monkey who was constantly attached to Lupa, to now being independent and is often seen playing with the other young monkeys. Monano, as the alpha male, is a calm male and seems to have a good grip on his group, while he has also accepted Moyo, the male with only half a tail, more and more in the group
This month we guided the release of the parakeets in Tupak. They were first caught, deparasited and assessed for their possible release. These parakeets arrived in very bad condition, with many of them missing their important flight feathers. All birds grow new feathers and over half of these birds now have enough flight feathers to be released and have been transferred into a pre-release cage. There they were released after a few days of settling in, to enjoy the freedom they so richly deserved. After nearly nine months since their arrival, it is always fantastic to see these parakeets being returned to the wild.
SUST Animal Orphan Hospital
Moira’s(Ma’s night monkey) stay in the SUSTOAH appeared to be going in the right direction. Her weight was stable and appetite was as it should be. Unfortunately, Moira’s condition deteriorated quickly and she succumbed to the effects caused by the parasite Prosthenorchis Elegans. As we have mentioned this parasite before, it is a huge problem as it is transmitted through the consumption of cockroaches and other beetles that eat infected faecal matter. As these animals are freely living all over in the jungle it is hard to treat as the re-infestation rate is very high. So far there is no treatment that can cure them from this parasite, but we keep looking and investigating.
While the clinic is most of the time empty (a good sign as we don’t have many sick animals,) we still have a lot of work to do there. Puck and Olivia are still regularly examining faecal samples under the microscope and together (with Puck doing most of the practical work) they make sure all resident animals get their regular deparasitation treatment and/or weight check. And of course all the daily milk and vitamin products for the outside living monkeys are prepared here.
One of the benefits of having rain most days is that there is ample water available for the annual task of emptying and cleaning of the turtle pond. Turtle and tortoise “hunting” is always a volunteer favourite, and while cleaning was taking place it was a great opportunity to catch, weigh and deparasite our 14 yellow-spotted river turtles.
And as a surprise, while cleaning the pond, Geyler and Douwe came upon a wild dwarf caiman. After taking some data (weight, length) at the clinic, we put him back again. As he causes no problem, and he can come and go as he pleases (caiman are good climbers so the fencing that did not keep him out, would not keep him in neither), he can stay in the place he made himself home.
Construction and other
Last month we said farewell to Geyler and wished him well for the future. Thankfully his plans changed and he was able to stay for another month and now finished at the end of January. Douwe took this opportunity to cross another construction job off his everchanging list of things to do. This month saw the volunteer kitchen get an entire new roof. The roof was in need of repair due to not handling the elements (including having jumping monkeys on it on a daily basis) as well as expected. Needless to say, the new roof with the addition of some clear roof panels has made a remarkable difference to the kitchen, with internal ambient light being noticeably improved. And as the month progressed, Geyler, made another decision, to stay on, but not on a regular basis, but being gone for some weeks at a time to work at his land. So, all good for us, as we are happy to have him as much as we can, as new help in these days is hard to get.
Our two veterinarian students from Lima, Diego and Renzo sadly had to leave after just a short experience with us. And what a difference it made having two extra sets of hands after so many months running on the bare minimum. They were very enthusiastic and quick and eager learners, we were sad to see them go, but hopeful we will see them back again. Especially Marlon and Anishka (the female otter) will miss them.
Esperanza Verde is now back to operating with three volunteers and the family, but rest assured it is business as usual with every animal getting the essential care and attention.
🎆 New Year
The New Year was marked in with typical Esperanza Verde flair. The rain parted just long enough after quite a significant downpour just till 23:30, to allow for a bonfire, a burning effigy (traditional burning puppet) and some fireworks down by the river away from the animals. Although anticipated village guests were unable to make it because of the rain,an amazing night of music and comradery was had by all.