Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Introducing the Nursery Monkeys - Elliot (Leoma and Elliot)


Hi, my name is Leoma and I have been part of the Wildtracks team for just over 3 weeks now. I come from a small rural town near the welsh border in England. Having recently left school, I really wanted to something different, exciting and relating to wildlife conservation in the interim before going on to study Biology at university next year. After a lot of internet research I came across Wildtracks and it sounded perfect. I would love to be a zoologist in the future so the kind of hands on experience with such beautiful, endangered creatures that Wildtracks offers is invaluable to me and almost unparalleled within volunteer opportunities.

My main duty here at Wildtracks is to look after the eight babies in the monkey nursery along with John. It is a time consuming and sometimes challenging job but always rewarding. One of the monkeys I help to look after is Elliot, a twelve month old Yucatan black howler monkey. He came to Wildtracks at fives old, in July 2012, after first being kept illegally as a pet in a rural village. Following a conservation awareness campaign facilitated by the owners of Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, one of their staff members noticed a baby howler monkey being kept by a family in his village. He approached the family and persuaded them to surrender the small monkey…later to be named Elliot. Elliot was then looked after at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge as logistics were worked out for his transfer to the Primate Rehabilitation Centre here. This is an excellent example of the members of the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network, working together and stepping in when an animal is in need.

Although he was not in dangerously ill health, his condition upon arrival was poor. He was scraggy and pot bellied with suspected intestinal worms, he also still suffers from some anxiety issues. For example when he is really stressed he tends to bite at his feet and tail, sometimes refusing to play and cowers on my shoulder. However, despite his poor start in life he has now grown into a healthy and playful monkey and is one of the most characterful of the nursery inhabitants. At the moment we are trying to build up his confidence by taking him to play in outside cages. We are also starting to integrate him with the four younger howlers. So far this is going pretty well, although he still gets a bit scared. He is slowly coming out of his shell and starting to show more of his boisterous and affectionate personality. Another little milestone for him is that he has recently learned to drink his milk from a syringe as the other monkeys do, rather than a bottle. He now no longer seems to need the extra comfort that it provided, an indication of his increased self assurance, happiness and general well-being. I look forward to telling you more about him in the coming weeks and updating you on his continued progress.


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-02-20 11:43:13   [Link to this article]

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