Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog

Welcome (Emma and the Pre-Release)


Welcome to the new Wildtracks blog!

My name is Emma, and I am lucky enough to count myself as one of the members of the Wildtracks team. Here at Wildtracks some pretty special work is being done every single day, and through this blog we are hoping to share with you both the people, and the animals, involved.

Working at Wildtracks is quite a surreal experience. I've come from New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada, a place that is currently experiencing minus 30 degree weather and waist high snow. Absolutely nothing like the plus 20 weather, warm breeze and pleasant sunshine I found upon arrival. Working here is very much a team effort, and the animals always come first. The main focus here is the rehabilitation of the Antillean manatee; the southern subspecies of the West Indian manatee, the Geoffroy's spider monkey and the Yucatan black howler monkey. Currently there are also 2 ocelots, a margay and an otter being worked with. Wildtracks is providing temporary rehabilitation facilities for these species for the Belize Forest Department. Very quickly, every new volunteer finds their place on the team.

My main job here at Wildtracks is the feeding & care of the pre-release howler monkeys. There are five monkeys in the pre-release troupe: Willow, Hazel, Sultan, Nicky & Livy. For pre-release, a group of carefully selected monkeys that have previously been semi-integrated are put into the large pre-release enclosure. This enclosure differs from the others in that it is a large patch of forest with a smaller cage in it. This set up provides an ideal setting for the monkeys to both develop a group mentality & learn essential skills; such as which branches will take their weight, and finding food & shelter, for entry to the wild. The monkeys, when ready, will be released into a protected forest area - Fireburn. In the beginning, the monkeys spend their nights inside the cage, being let out to roam the forest during the day. Though the current pre-release group are still fed 4 times a day in the cage, they are no longer brought in at night. Having the monkeys come down for feeds is very important, this gives us the opportunity to assess both the health of the monkeys & the progress of the group.

The current pre-release group still has several months to go before they will be considered ready for release. Upon release, the troupe of monkeys must be a fully functioning group, completely able to communicate with each other and to competently navigate their forest surroundings. Our current troupe is still in the stages of fully integrating with each other and developing trust & bonds between each member.

Well, it is time for me to go and feed this wonderful troupe, each member of which has their own distinct personality. I look forward to sharing their progress with you in the upcoming months.


Published by: Primate Volunteer at 2013-02-13 19:41:53   [Link to this article]

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