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Aug 5, 2019

Frankie, an Anteater with Spirit

Frankie on her daily walk in the garden
Frankie on her daily walk in the garden

In our last report, we gave a broad overview of the happenings of the dry months that started out our year, and the many, many rescues we did. After that incredibly busy time, we had a short period of no rescues, just caring for the animals that are at the center. And then we started again on our usual schedule of an animal or two a week. Mostly sloths, and for the past two weeks, from one specific location around Lelydorp. Last Wednesday, we had a total of five animals, so the bus was stacked full with passengers looking for a better life in the forest. One of the animals was Frankie, an anteater that had stayed with us for almost 2 weeks.

Frankie was found by a good soul on a road around 80 km outside of Paramaribo, in the District of Brokopondo. And she had apparently been hit by a car, but was not dead. She arrived at our offices the next day, and appeared to be in a state of shock and weakness. When we took her to the vet, she had regained already some of her strength, and was mainly defensive. That was not making it easier for us to examine her. So the vet was going to come by the next day, when she was a little bit more settled in and no longer so scared of us. Frankie slept a lot, which is good when you have a bad headache, and when the vet visited, she was not as restless. However, we did find that she had a parasite in her foot and in her digestive system.

To treat her, we would have to give her either medicines by injection or through her food. Neither one was easy. After four days, she started to eat the food, instead of just stepping on it and in it. And then something pretty amazing happened. As I was preparing her food, I heard a snort. I was not sure whether Frankie was doing that, but for sure, when she saw me with the food, she did it again. Frankie was talking to me! She actually had gotten the taste of the food, and now was instructing me to make a bit more haste. It never ceases to amaze me how these completely wild animals connect with us, interact with us, and cease any defensive behavior. Once they understand that you are helping them, they start to direct us and indicate what they need.

Frankie stayed with us for a bit longer than normal, because we felt that we had to give her a good start. She really enjoyed all the food we gave her, from frozen termites nests to yoghurt with supplements. And when we let her go, she left at ease, she immediately started to check out her surroundings.

On the 9thof July we started to paint an educational mural with a student group from Tulane University. The design was made by a well-known Surinamese artist and the animals we worked with were displayed in their actual sizes next to each other, so we can provide people a sense of the difference in sizes of the sloths, anteaters and armadillos we work with. We did see Ostrich around in the trees surrounding the center, but we did not see 19November. We continued the work on the mural over several weekends with other volunteers and we hope to finish it by the end of August.

Then my sloth friend 19November surprised us a few days later, when she showed up again, showing off her new baby. We decided to call it 9July, because we all had the feeling it was 19November showing us that she also could create something.

With your support, we continue to care for sloth and anteaters in trouble. We make daily efforts to improve the circumstances under which we rescue, rehabilitate and release the animals, ensuring their individual well-being one at a time.

Impression of the focused work done by students
Impression of the focused work done by students
9July climbing on her mother
9July climbing on her mother's head
Tulane students posing in front of their work
Tulane students posing in front of their work
Our mural, a work in progress
Our mural, a work in progress
May 20, 2019

Thanking you with Sloth Hugs and Anteater Licks!

The Cock Sigfried saved a sloth
The Cock Sigfried saved a sloth

As we reported to you in our last report, now that we have almost fully funded this project, we started to reorganize our projects. We added some of its components to our other project “Sloth Sanctuary Suriname sequel: the whole story!” that we had created to build the sloth center. So we can continue to do what we have been doing now for almost 15 years, helping sloths return to where they belong: in the forest. On the 22ndof May, the International Day for Biodiversity, GlobalGiving is running a campaign for Paws and Claws, that will reward new recurring donations to our project “Sloth Sanctuary Suriname sequel: the whole story!” with a partial match. So, if you want to continue supporting this particular part of our work and had been supporting “Sanctuary helps Suriname's sloths back to jungle", the 22ndof May is the day to change your recurring donation to our project “Sloth Sanctuary Suriname sequel: the whole story!”.

Rescues and Releases

In the past months, we had an extraordinary drought starting in January that lasted all the way up to Easter. With a clear effect on the sloths in and around Paramaribo, as we did 63 rescues over a period of 3 months, while we normally rescue around 150 animals per year. This drought was so prolonged that leaves were falling from the trees. This meant that the leaves were not as juicy as normal, and sadly my little friend Jinkoe fell victim to the long drought. 

A frustrating rescue period

We received during this drought six very small babies, who had been abandoned by their mothers. None of these animals was over 300 g, the smallest being 220 g and the biggest 274 g. A tiny little baby, Beanie, in addition to being so frail, also did not have a tail. We always thought Jinkoe was the smallest baby we had ever seen, but these babies were unusually small. Unfortunately, we were not able to keep them alive. Two adult animals were reported and rescued by us, that had been attacked by dogs. Again, one was so badly injured, the veterinary doctors advised us to do the humane thing. The other animal although apparently not with visible injuries, in the end also passed away. This period was very frustrating for us, as we felt incredibly inept at keeping these tiny tots alive.

Some special rescues giving us hope

We provided to many of the adult animals we received special care, because a lot of them were dehydrated and some needed subcutaneous fluids, others were capable of drinking themselves and gladly took the water offered to them orally. One animal that probably had seen enough water in this dry period, was Henderic, who was sitting in water in a tire along a dock. He was successfully released in a forest along a river far away from the unfriendly dogs he had encountered. And a special mention goes to an animal by the name of Sigfried, not a sloth, but a cock. And no, we have not started saving cocks, but this cock saved a sloth. And for that, he was rewarded by us naming the sloth after him. These are stories of hope. Hope we will continue to give to animals in need with your kind support. 

As this is most likely the last report we will write for this project, we want to thank you all for making this such a successful project. And we hope to see your continued support for the sloths on our project “Sloth Sanctuary Suriname sequel: the whole story!”. Sloth hugs and Anteaters licks!

Jinkoe when she had just arrived in 2017
Jinkoe when she had just arrived in 2017
Dry leaves fell from the trees during the drought
Dry leaves fell from the trees during the drought
Gabriel one of the underweight babies upon arrival
Gabriel one of the underweight babies upon arrival

Links:

May 7, 2019

Paws and Claws Matching Campaign

Jinkoe during her first months at the center
Jinkoe during her first months at the center

As we already let you know in our first report this year, we had a very busy start of 2019. Not only with meetings and trainings, and thinking of where we want to focus our attention in the coming years. We also had many many rescues. And these rescues were due to what we think was an unusual dry period that started in January.

And I have to mention the elephant in the room...the problem of climate change facing Suriname is real and enormous. With 90 percent of our infrastructure in the low-lying coastal zone, Suriname will suffer great consequences from sea level rise and the effects of climate change. The effects are already starting to show in terms of stronger winds, shifting seasons, more extreme weather events during the different seasons, such as more rainfall causing flooding and longer droughts. Strong winds and small tornados cause damage to our infrastructure, like our houses, but also to our forests. Small tornados can cause the destruction of complete forest patches in a matter of minutes.

Climate change has a direct effect on the lives of the animals we work with. In the past months we did not only have an increase in rescues, sometimes one per day and sometimes more than one per day, but we also saw an increase in the animals that arrived in a poor condition. In a period of 3 months we had 63 rescues, while we normally rescue around 150 animals per year. A lot of animals were dehydrated, requiring subcutaneous fluids, and some were so badly dehydrated that we could not help them anymore. In addition, we had an increase in very small infants, weighing under 300 g, that had been abandoned by their mothers. None of these survived. We are not yet sure, how and if flooding and extreme rain is also going to affect the animals similarly.

Suriname is a country with almost 90% forest cover and a small population of around 550,000 people, we are a country that has contributed little to man-made climate change. There is little we can do to stop the industrialized world from doing business as usual and continuing to pump greenhouse gases in the air. So the most we can do in our country is to think of adaptive measures that will ensure that we can survive as a society and help us build our infrastructure beyond the zone of immediate impact. The only thing I kept thinking of when the drought was so pervasive, is how we could use the enormous freshwater potential of our country to maintain our forests now and in the future by devising smart irrigation methods that will keep our forests alive, and the animals (and people) that depend on them.

Jinkoe, one of the sloths that moved with us from my house to the new center and who became one of the first animals to make the sloth wellness center her home, unfortunately may have fallen victim to the effects of this severe drought. I wrote a special piece about her life at the center. Anna who had a baby earlier this year, probably lost her baby also as a result of the drought. It is with this reflection on these changes that are occurring that I end the report for this period. Planting trees, replenishing the forests and restoring biodiversity are what is foremost in my mind at this moment.

Thank you for your continued support, and please keep an eye out for the upcoming Paws + Claws Matching campaign on the 22nd of May in honour of the International Day of Biological Diversity.

Leaves falling from the trees which is unusual
Leaves falling from the trees which is unusual
Anna and her baby
Anna and her baby
 
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