Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog

The Release of Auggy, the translocation howler monkey - Ilke provides her perspective, as Auggy's carer


As some of you may know, I recently spent 7 weeks volunteering at a primate and manatee rehabilitation centre in Belize: Wildtracks. I want to share with you an unforgettable and incredibly amazing experience I was lucky enough to be part of, one which helped me reflect on the importance of conservation work - the importance of conserving many unique species on earth which are endangered due to human impacts whether it be through habitat destruction (the major cause of species extinction) or illegal hunting, introduction of non-native species or many other reasons. Not only that but the conservation of our planet, to take care of our environment so as to give not only our species a better future, but every species on earth as well.

My story to share is that of the August Pine Ridge Howler Monkey. He is thought to have been chased out of the forest by his troop and was found malnourished and starving in a small village with nowhere to go, since the rest of the area had been deforested. He was brought into Wildtracks to be rehabilitated and then released back into the wild in a protected forest, Fireburn, that would support him. I was very fortunate to be assigned as his carer.

Auggy quickly captured my heart, being the most handsome monkey at Wildtracks (in my opinion), being very observant at all times and always sporting the smartest look on his face. It was as if he could read people inside out with just a look and he always knew what was going on. For about a month I went in with him four times a day to feed him and clean his enclosure, always respecting and keeping in mind that he was a wild animal.

When he was once again the healthy, beautiful animal that he was born to be, he was ready for his release! Being one of the 36 howler monkey's released by Wildtracks to date, he is invaluable as he adds a number to the endangered population of howler monkey's in Belize.

I had the honour of opening the door to release this beautiful howler monkey, an endangered species in Belize, whom I'd had gotten to know on a personal level, back into his home where he belongs: the rainforest of Belize, the wild. There is nothing in my life that can compare to that moment, the moment in which I gave another individual whom I so deeply cared about and felt to have such a connection with, the freedom and opportunity to live a new and better life in a home he truly belongs. It is a memory I will cherish and hold close to my heart for the rest of my life and will inspire me for the rest of my years to come.

At the opening of his cage, he seemed to be unsure what to do, then after giving him a few words of encouragement and telling him he could now be a free monkey, Auggy bounded out of his kennel, stopped halfway up the tree to look down at us, as if thanking us for everything we'd done, and ran off into his new home – the wild.

I want to recognize and thank Paul and Zoe Walker, the ones at the heart of Wildtracks, for all their hard work and dedication to give such special care and attention to every animal that comes through their gates and for all their conservation work in Belize. This extends further to all of the volunteers and workers who have committed time and given these animals the care they need.

A big thank you to all the organizations and individuals in the world that are dedicated to conservation efforts and help make earth a better home for all species.

(and a big thank you to Michael, Fanny, Calum, Sarah and Gillian for sharing their pictures and this amazing moment with me).


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2015-06-29 19:17:12   [Link to this article]

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