It seems we spoke a little too soon about the end of the rainy season! Some big storms and PLENTY of rain- steps turning into waterfalls and footpaths getting a little swampy. Changing weather and changing times; after the sad departure of long term volunteers Iain and Lauren there are many new faces. They will both be pleased to hear that all the new volunteers are doing a great job during this period of transition- there is a really positive work ethic and atmosphere of learning at EV and good vibes all round. The family is settling in at the new place, which looks fantastic and already feels like a home.
We are very happy to report that Louie the young male squirrel monkey is still doing great since being released from his cage; there has been no trouble with the wild group of squirrel monkeys who like to visit from time to time and his climbing skills are getting better and better. He is very much part of our resident troupe now and under the careful protection of Mica (adult female capuchin) he is progressing well, and spends every night outside of the cage. Shambito the young male tamarin is doing fine and spending fewer and fewer nights in his cage. The wild group of tamarins that occasionally swing by for lunch aren´t very friendly to him unfortunately, but it is possible he could one day start a new group with Alessi the female tamarin, a previous resident has not shown up anymore at Esperanza Verde.
Willow the juvenile male woolly monkey continues his campaign of mischief- pulling washing from the line, trying to steal milk from the younger monkeys, leg grabbing, face licking, basically any way he can get attention. Sadly he is a lot more interested in what the humans are up to; having lost his mother to hunters at a very young age and then been raised by humans, reintegration into the wild is a huge challenge for him. His behavior is not such a problem yet, but as he reaches maturity and develops his canine teeth, he may become too dangerous to have roaming around. This would result in having to go into a cage; if he attempted to integrate into a wild group he would certainly be killed. Our best hope is that one day EV can provide an adequate release site, away from danger.
Nikita the young female capuchin is very happy with the troupe. Though still young enough receive milk three times per day, she is developing well and getting along great with the other monkeys. Her climbing skills still have quite a way to go, but her confidence is certainly growing!
The parakeet release cage is getting emptier and emptier! This is very positive- at least half of the 16 that were ready have departed for a new life in the forest, but can still be heard not too far away. Tiliku the dusky headed parakeet, who the cage was named after, has also made his way out of the cage and into the trees. The cage name will stay the same in memory of him though!
Unfortunately last week one of our parakeet cages was not properly closed, and the monkeys were able to open the door. Thankfully this was spotted very quickly, and after a lot of squawking and pecked fingers we got the birds back inside. As many of the birds had several feathers of their wings cut before they were ready for sale on the black market, outside of our protection they would not have lasted long on the forest floor. In fact it seems one of the escapees got past us without our realizing and turned up dead just the next day. Over in the Aviary the Parrots and Macaws are mostly doing great, except for Ruiz, the large red Macaw. Unfortunately he is ripping his feathers out again (a sign of stress), although he has been seen eating well and socializing with the other birds. We are hopeful that he will settle down, as there have recently been signs of improvement. He is certainly still much healthier than when he first arrived!
Benny and the Jets (three parakeets which were separated for different health issues) have finally moved out of quarantine (in the office) and into a much larger cage, where they look a lot happier and will get to stretch their wings a bit more. The quarantine cages are already full again though; from the large parakeet cage (around 40 birds) we are beginning the process of putting the birds through a stay in quarantine, where after being weighed and examined will receive medicine to remove any parasites and keep the birds healthy. With so many birds in one cage it is important to go through this process to make sure the birds are in the best possible condition until they are ready for release.
Rincay the tapir and his good friend Pepito the tortoise are doing great, no complaints from either of them about the rainy weather. In other reptilian news, Momo and Co (five other resident tortoises) have had trouble with fungus growing on their shells, but after regular cleaning with iodine the problem is much better, and they are eating well. Watching the tortoise feeding frenzy is ever popular with the volunteers! Splinter the Mata-Mata (definitely the strangest looking turtle you will ever see) was recently removed from his pond for a checkup and we are glad to see all is well. Too much handling and human contact has caused great stress on him in the past, resulting in loss of appetite for some time, so now he is being disturbed as little as possible and happily he is already settled and eating well again after his examination.
Missing: Ruben, Tortoise. Last seen in cage. Likes lettuce and cabbage. Have you seen this Animal? These reptiles are known to dig holes and hide; in fact the daily locating of other Tortoises Houdini and Pepito can take a lot of time if they don’t want to be found. However after a thorough search of his enclosure Ruben (a tortoise brought in recently by the Ministry) is definitely gone. Later we discovered that the gate, whilst seeming secure, could actually be pushed open enough from the inside to allow a very determined Tortoise to slip through. Tortoises are highly prized for their meat among the locals, who don´t see a protected animal, but a delicious snack. The local population of Tapirs and Peccaries has also all but vanished or fled the area due to hunting, as their meat fetches a high price in Pucallpa.
In Sloth news, Elmo is all good. He was absent for a little longer than usual recently, but that’s not so surprising considering his speed ranges from slow to very slow. Enjoying his green beans and sweet potatoes as always.
Now that the house for the managers just needs a few finishing touches, work at the clinic has been progressing well- the pillars are up and after a lot of sweat and splinters the breams for the frame are going up too. EV is hosting more volunteers than ever now, so smaller projects like making new stools and bed tables, as well as preparing future bedrooms, have also been going on. With the recent downpours, the pathway in front of the Bodega is gradually turning into an impenetrable bog, so a new drainage system has been put in place which will hopefully prevent the same problem happening when the next rainy season comes around. Pathway maintenance has also been essential with the wet conditions, and the volunteers have had a wonderful time collecting and carrying fresh rocks from the river for this purpose!
As mentioned above, we had to say a very fond farewell to English long term volunteers Iain and Lauren. The time, care and love they put into their stay here is immediately missed. Not just because of their valuable experience in taking care of the animals (and other volunteers!) but their fantastic attitude and warm hearts. Lauren has put together a wonderful video for EV including interviews, volunteers in action and some great shots of the animals. It should be uploaded in the near future (watch this space!). EV wishes them all the best and hopes to see them again in the future.
Thankfully Tobi from Germany, as the next most experienced, has picked up the slack admirably; teaching, helping and encouraging the newcomers. We are very grateful to him for doing so well during this time of change.
The good news is that our two new long term volunteers have arrived! A very warm welcome to Josh from Texas, USA and Iris from the Netherlands. Josh is studying Environmental Science and has come here seeking voluntary experience in the field, and Iris is here to complete the practical side of her Wildlife Management course. They are both settling in really well and we hope they find everything they are looking for here. Good luck to them both.
For future volunteers, whether you have organized your stay here yet or are still planning, we look forward to meeting you. Any luxury items (your definition of luxury will change shortly on arrival!) like chocolate, spices, magazines etc. are hugely appreciated. Watching Iain´s face light up at the sight of Cumin sent from home was quite special!