Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Momma and Babe (Lydia)


Hi, I’m Lydia and I’m spending some of my gap year volunteering at Wildtracks. In September I’ll be going to vet school so a volunteer project this hands on with animals is perfect for me.

I’ve been volunteering here for almost three months now. During my first few weeks I helped out with feeding the pre release monkeys and got to know some of the howler monkey personalities quite well. However, a few weeks into my stay Momma and Babe came in.

Momma and Babe are two howler monkeys from the Community Baboon Sanctuary. There has been a drought there this dry season, with trees fruiting late. As a result, one howler monkey made a desperate attempt to cross the ground within the village to reach a fruiting cashew tree. She was attacked by dogs, causing the baby she carried to flee, making a quick escape – the four month old would have been unlikely to survive such an attack.

Momma was found by the Sanctuary rangers with some bad wounds and was very dehydrated. Luckily, the Babe was still nearby, and was reunited with her. They called Wildtracks for assistance, and Paul and Zoe went to assess the situation. The monkey was very weak, with a series of puncture wounds and lacerations that needed attention, so she and her babe were brought back to Wildtracks to recover, for eventual release back with her troupe.

Following her arrival at Wildtracks, we noticed that the wound on her breast was much worse than we had first thought. Her condition slowly deteriorated as infection set in, and we feared for her life. The vet was called, and she made the long trek to Sarteneja, where she anesthetized Momma in order to flush the wound, cut away some of the necrotic tissue and suture it closed, leaving enough of a gap to allow further drainage of the wound. During this operation, I was holding Babe, who was distraught at the absence of her mother.

After the procedure, Momma, still very drowsy, was put back into her cage with Babe, and the baby was instantly content. I closely observed the pair for the rest of the day to ensure everything went smoothly - gradually Momma got more alert and climbed higher and higher up the perches in the cage.

It has now been approximately one month since the operation, and the progress Momma has made is amazing. Although she has her ups and downs - some days she eats very little and seems less bright, on the whole she seems much better in herself. When she first came in she ate very little, she went from being syringe-fed liquids, to being hand-fed mango, to now feeding herself, which is so great to see. As she refused to eat anything but mango when she first came in, the excitement and pride when she ate her first banana was high for what some would think is a small achievement. Not to mention when she ate her first bit of papaya!! (she soon realized that papaya is gross and stopped eating it). Her wound is healing very well, and we hope that the pair can be released back into the Community Baboon Sanctuary in the next few weeks, which is really exciting. So keep your fingers crossed for Momma and Babe!


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-06-24 18:08:57   [Link to this article]

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