From Rigrat of http://BelizeBirdRescue.com
Had to go up to San Ignacio early Sunday morning. The father of one of our young volunteers had been approached in a bar by some hunters who had a baby monkey for sale. Twenty minutes later, after a quick call to Forestry and the Police, the hunters were in custody and the monkey was cuddled up in a warm towel awaiting pick up. I jumped in the truck with Robin Brockett and we raced up there to retrieve the little mite.
It was a very small female Howler. Robin estimates the age to be two months or less. Very frightened, cold, and dehydrated, the prognosis on survival at this age is very poor. It was the same old story, the mother shot up the tree and falling with the baby tumbling out of the tree clinging to her. The mother is left to rot whilst the baby is sold. So far she is being a little fighter and is clinging to life.
Monday, I did a little trip into Tapir National Park and said our goodbyes to Alexandra the anteater (Tamandua) that was seized by Forestry at Altun Ha. Even though we went on the initial raid that seized this animal, she was not initially sent to us. The poor animal had had a rough start to rehab in two different establishments and was scheduled for euthanasia because of various zoonotic conditions she had (coccidia, strongloids, worms etc. as well as a broken forearm). She was also losing weight fast.
I begged forestry for one last go and she was transferred here, and after a day or so I have to say I was close to giving up. Tamandua are natural Haemophiliacs and she was bleeding internally and peeing blood. She also wouldn't eat anything except for orange termite eggs.
Eventually with a lot of help from the London Zoological Society, we managed to set up a regime of force feeding (very messy), and she started to turn the corner. The force feeding enabled us to get medicine into her as well. As she regained weight, she also regained strength and started tearing things up, so she got six termite nests a day to work on as well as rotting logs. She also developed a taste for rotten banana and rotten oranges of which we have lots.
After a month we had her up to her target weight and she started raising up on her hind legs and putting her arms up in the air like a surrendering terrorist and also started jumping up on things. It was time to let her go.
Upon her release she shuffled of into the bush and away without even a look over her shoulder. I hope she is alive and well out there, but have no way of knowing. Even though she required eight solid hours of care a day, I do miss her greatly. Anyone who thinks they make good pets needs their bumps felt though.
Monday evening saw the arrival of Dr Jamie Gilardi of the World Parrot Trust as well as Alejandro and Colum from ARCAS in Guatemala. We accidentally drunk a bit too much that evening and didn't get to bed nearly early enough as we had to get up at three thirty in the morning to go to Red Bank to try and see the Scarlet Macaws.
And did we ever see them! We counted around forty birds at various times, the biggest flock was twenty two birds all coming down the valley to feed on the polewood trees. It was truly a breathtaking sight to see them flying all around us, and boy are they noisy! I guess I will have to post some video or photos, as mere words don't do these birds justice.
The Macaws will be around for another three weeks or so and if anyone can spare the time they should really go. Call Geronimo Sho on 662-8340 and 668-1724.
Wednesday morning was spent catching parrots in the flight aviary and applying the Forestry department steel rings to one of their legs. All the birds we release now are banded in this way. It is very useful to us as a thief and poacher has already been busted after he sold a ringed parrot to a local store owner. Wednesday afternoon was a meeting with Rasheda Sampson of the forestry department who informed us that we had the go ahead for our proposed Yellow head (Amazona Oratrix) breed to release program. Numbers of these birds have been plummeting and we hope to reinforce existing populations and also re-introduce in some areas where the species has been locally extirpated. This is a ten year program and will mean a large increase in our activity. For the first time we will be taking on full time interns and students from overseas to assist with this.
Thursday we did a trip down the coastal highway to scout out a release site for various critters and were really lucky to watch a couple of Aplomado Falcons doing their courtship flight. We also spent a considerable time at the zoo after we got a call that another monkey was going to be dropped there by someone who couldn't 'control' it any more. The monkey didn't turn up, but we got to check on Penelope the crested Guan that we were unable to release back to the wild.
Friday morning we had a call and shortly after a delivery of a Red Lored parrot that had been attacked by a Possum. The Possum had pulled nearly every feather from the back of the bird and had chewed little bits off here and there. It was in a dreadful state and was in pain. Harrison's bird products have some donated soothing ointment for the raw skin and we also gave it a shot of anti-biotic, and put the bird in a warm dark area to see what would happen. Even without the feathers this was the largest Red Lored Parrot we had ever seen. It weighed 640 grams as opposed to the normal weight of 310 to 430 gram range. It soon became clear that the bird couldn't breathe very well because of its weight and wheezed with every breath. Things didn't look too good for this bird.
The rest of the morning was spent setting up the cameras and sound equipment for the World Parrot Trust. When this was completed the release doors to the flight aviary were opened and 22 Red Lored and four White Fronted parrots slowly exited into a much larger world to what they were used to. As I sit typing this, they are flying around the house calling and squawking and slowly flying further and further away before they wheel back and return to familiar surroundings. Their feeding will continue, but we expect this little flock to join with a larger one in the area.
Sadly on Friday evening our new Red Lored Patient started going downhill fast and very shortly after closed its eyes and passed away. We are all terribly upset about this as it is the first patient we have been unable to save.
Saturday, we did the autopsy on the parrot. Well over half the body weight of the bird was fat. The liver was cirrhotic and less than one third of the size it should be. It was also pushed up against the diaphragm by fat which in turn didn't allow the bird to breathe well. The heart was difficult to find because of fat, but was enlarged which also restricted the lungs. This poor bird had zero chance of surviving any trauma or stress. Again it shows the importance of a good diet. This bird was fed on tortillas, fry jacks, corn balls, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Not fresh fruit and greens with the occasional seed. The owner is coming around today for a burial service. I hope to take the time to convince her never to have another parrot.
Later on Saturday morning, the summons from the zoo came and again Robin and I rushed up there to retrieve the monkey that had now arrived. It was a yearling Spider Monkey that the owner had 'saved' when it was a baby. The trouble with 'saving' these babies is that once they are habituated to humans and kept until they get aggressive, then they are enormously difficult to rehab and get back to the wild. They don't have the manners or the skills of wild monkeys and if released are killed immediately by the wild monkeys around them. The only way known at present is to form groups of monkeys into a troupe by long term introduction in adjoining cages. This takes many months and requires a lot of time and expense. It is immeasurably easier when the monkeys are very young as they want to play with other monkeys rather than just kill them. So by 'saving' this monkey for over a year, the 'saviour' has most probably signed this poor animals death warrant. It makes me very angry as just a tiny bit of research would find this out as well as well as finding the rehab centre. I just thank our lucky stars that Robin is here because I couldn't care for the monkeys the way she does. Rigrat, http://BelizeBirdRescue.com