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Feb 22, 2019

It's time for a change

Beyond sloths...
Beyond sloths...

We created this project on Global Giving when we first joined, because this is what we do, we help sloths return to where they belong in the forest. We mostly pick these animals up from locations in the city, in someone’s garden, on their fence, hanging in the burglar bars, sometimes inside a house and sometimes hanging from the roof. Since I started doing rescues in 2005, I have seen many strange situations, but a recent rescue must have been the strangest one since I started. A sloth named Cliff found itself in a very uncomfortable situation hanging from a pole in the Suriname River. For those of you wondering how we knew its name was Cliff, we didn’t. We gave him the name when we saw in which situation he found himself. As I am still not allowed to push, pull, carry or lift, I am always accompanied by a volunteer who can; in this case George, who is our scientific advisor, who was visiting from abroad to continue the work we started doing since we co-authored “Sloths in the City”. You can read and see more about the rescue of Cliff on our website.

So what is changing?

We want to change this project “Sanctuary helps Suriname's sloths back to jungle"by either retiring it because it is almost fully funded, and adding some of its components to our other project “Sloth Sanctuary Suriname sequel: the whole story!” and start a completely new education and research project, or rewrite the current project to reflect the change in our activities. This will most likely be done in the coming months, because we need to formulate this new project and properly reflect what we do under our education and research program. For those of you who know us already and look from time to time also on our website, you know, that Green Heritage Fund Suriname is more than only sloths (and anteaters for that matter). We also work on dolphins and the marine environment and do a lot of educational work (both formal and informal).

Information Center on Xenarthra

Now that through the help also of our partner Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V. (WTG) we were able to secure more land and construct our new storage area, which meant retiring the old timber shed that was becoming dangerously obsolete, we can start focusing more on fundraising for education. We want to set up a large information center that in a nutshell will highlight the importance of the forest habitat for the Xenarthra, will explain how climate change will affect them, and will highlight the importance of Indigenous people in shaping the Amazonian forests (in case you are interested in more detailed information please email us). It will also tell the story of this uniquely South American group of animals since prehistorical times. And yes, I know, one species managed to cross over to North America, so definitely a unique American species group. In addition, this center will have several labs for children where they can learn more about the environment and our planet through their own observations and research. This is part of our GLOBE work, which is the largest science-education effort in the world, with 121 countries participating.

Research on Urban Forest Fragments

As part of this educational and research effort and the work undertaken with George Middendorf, we want start working on the urban forest fragments, because the sloths appear to be definitely urbanophilic animals. By doing this research we hope to secure their habitat in the urban space and will work towards four different aims and objectives. 

1. promote the continued existence of viable coastal sloth populations in the wild in Greater Paramaribo;
2. prevent the decline of coastal sloth habitats, among others, by providing for the rehabilitation of cleared or otherwise disturbed sloth habitats in Greater Paramaribo;
3. promote future land use and development that is compatible with the survival of coastal sloth populations in Greater Paramaribo; and
4. providing policy direction and management approaches to address key threatening processes.

How to achieve these goals?

We have outlined our work already and it will focus on five areas. First, we need to cover the scientific basics, by conducting research and conservation. This will include a conservation genetic analysis, geographical analysis, ecological analysis of forest fragments, a biological analysis, and of course rehabilitation and shelter. The second area is legislation and policy-makers, where we will analyse the legal framework and work on improving the stakeholders network. Thirdly, we need communications, for strengthening of lines of communication and the diffusion of information, we need communication strategies to allow the general public to get closer to sloths, and we need communication as a tool to diminish threats. The fourth area will focus on education and community participation, which will include education and community participation. And the fifth area will focus on administration and institutional strengthening, bringing together decisionmakers and local stakeholders. This is all closely related to what normally happens around species action planning. And as you already heard from us, the Sloth Action Plan, was part of our current and future activities. We are in now really in the preparation phase. 

What do we want from you?

We would like to know how you as our donors for many many years feel about this change. What are your thoughts, how do you see this affecting your involvement with our work. Does this sound to you like the right way to focus our activities in. Please do share your ideas, feelings, thoughts with us, you can do that by providing feedback below when you rate this report. Thank you for any of your inputs and support so far. We look forward to hear from you.

Almost in the kennel...
Almost in the kennel...
Dehydrated animals are giving fluids by volunteer
Dehydrated animals are giving fluids by volunteer
Feb 6, 2019

A good beginning

Claudia Brieva teaching Medicine of Sloths
Claudia Brieva teaching Medicine of Sloths

Although 2018 ended a little bit in an unfortunate incident, with the rescue van being rammed off the road by a speed devil. GHFS was able to make a positive start in 2019. Not aware that a whiplash would have such house-binding consequences, I had to refrain for most of December and January from activities like rescues and releases, and actually most activities. The verdict was: no pushing, no pulling, no lifting and no carrying. And of course, no driving and exercising.

Fortunately, the GHFS team picked up all these activities, and rescues and releases continued. Our vehicle is still not repaired and we use private cars to do the rescues and releases. So most important is that I can tell you, we are continuing our work. We are immensely grateful for the end-of-year donations that came in, and which help us maintain our current level of activities. And also help with improvements to how we care for the animals.

In cooperation with our German partner WTG, we organized in January a Medicine of Sloths workshop for veterinary doctors and held a Wildlife Welfare Roundtable Discussion with a diverse group of stakeholders. The Medicine of Sloths workshop was taught by Claudia Brieva, lecturer in wildlife medicine at the University of Bogota in Colombia. She reserved a week out of her busy schedule to come down to Suriname and teach seven local veterinary doctors how to care for sloths that are in need of specialized care.

Biologist Carlos del Valle kicked of the meeting with a presentation about the taxonomy of the Xenarthra. Claudia Brieva then continued with the natural history of sloths, anatomy of sloths, followed by a general presentation about the medicine of sloths and diseases. At the end of the day, a sloth was examined prior to release as the animal had a small hairless spot on a leg. After treatment the animal was released as the conclusion was that he did not need to be held for further treatment. On the second day a rescued anteater was examined prior to release by the whole group of veterinary doctors. Then Claudia Brieva continued with the subjects of rehabilitation, post confiscation management and the care of infants. Two post-mortems were conducted by the group on animals that had unfortunately died last year shortly after they had been rescued. Nothing we did not know already, showed up in these post-mortems. However, it was a useful experience for the veterinary doctors.

The Wildlife Welfare Roundtable discussion was a good starting point for discussion with a diverse group of stakeholders on how the health of wildlife is linked to our own health. Participants had been provided with information on our website put together by Rory Wakeford, a volunteer with GHFS. Daniela Schrudde from WTG gave an introduction into the concept of One Health, showing how complex systems can be disturbed and lead to dire consequences for human health. The participants were very much engaged and looking forward to follow-up discussions on the different aspects of wildlife welfare and the role they play in helping to ensure welfare for animals and human beings alike.

It was a busy but good start of 2019 and we are looking forward to sharing with you more about how we use information, knowledge and discussion to improve the welfare of the animals we work with. We wish you a Happy Year of the Earth Pig. And thank you for supporting our work!

One Health Approach
One Health Approach
Participants in the Wildlife Welfare Roundtable
Participants in the Wildlife Welfare Roundtable
Deforestation rescue in a rural area
Deforestation rescue in a rural area

Links:

Nov 27, 2018

A little bit late...

Sloth rescue bus rammed by a speeding driver
Sloth rescue bus rammed by a speeding driver

We normally have our report in on time, even though we tend to be deadliners... This time though it is late, because I was unfortunately rammed by a speeding car that ran a stop sign on the 23rdof November. The bus was hit in the rear against the wheel, spinned 180 degrees, and facing in the direction from where I came, the sloth rescue bus came to a halt and flipped on its side… With a whiplash and some bruises, I was lucky to get out, somewhat unharmed. I was glad, there were no rescue animals in the car or other passengers. But I was definitely shaken by this. Even if we drive as safely and defensive as possible, if the other road users do not follow the traffic rules, there is little we can do to avoid traffic accidents. Fortunately, no serious personal accidents, just a lot of material damage.

Since the end of August we had the usual flow of animals, sometimes five per week, sometimes only one. And sometimes two in a day. In this past rescue period we not only rescued anteaters and sloths, we also rescued one tree porcupine.

Champ
One of the three-fingered sloths we received had been rescued by someone who saw the animal crossing the road. As there was no forest around, he decided to put the animal in his car and take it home. He put it in a cage and tried to feed it, and although the animal was not eating, it took him two weeks to finally bring it to the Zoo. As you can imagine the animal was in bad shape, it’s kidneys had started failing and he was dehydrated and skinny. Our vets Eva and Audrey, however, were determined to pull the animal through. Never before have I had an animal with failing kidneys recover. So I was a bit anxious, but as I am not a vet, I just let them do their work. My job was to give him a name that would forebode their success. So I called him Champ. Every day, Champ was given IV fluids, and after a week his diarrhea disappeared. And he started eating the leaves we gave him. His treatment continued, and after two weeks he had recovered so well, we transferred him to the center where he was observed for several more days. And boy, did Champ want to leave his enclosure when he saw all those beautiful trees. So on the 20thof October, International Sloth Day, Champ was released and looked very happy as he climbed fast into the canopy of his new home.

International Sloth Day
On International Sloth Day, we not only released Champ, but three more animals. One was a two-fingered sloth and two more three-fingered sloths. It was a very fitting way to celebrate this day. On this particular day we also saw how Jinkoe and Rory went together away into the forest. Jinkoe has been regularly coming back, but little Rory seems to enjoy himself (I think it is a he) very well in the trees and we only see him occasionally in his favorite tree, and he has been back only twice. Both Jinkoe and Ostrich like to roam into the forest for several days at a time, and they come regularly back to sleep in their buckets for the night to leave again in the morning. All of them, with the exception of our sleepy two-fingered babies, left before the official opening. As if they did not feel like seeing all these people roaming around their houses. As the official opening was over, they started coming back again.

Say no to selfies with sloths!
And we re-launched our campaign to not take selfies with wild animals, and in particular not with sloths on the 20thof October. This campaign will mostly be run using short videos that we will spread through social media, and in particular in the platforms most used by visitors, interns and tour guides.

World Anteater Day – 29 November 2018
And please check out our website or facebook page as it is World Anteater Day on the 29thof November.

As always, thank you for your support, and please check out our Thanksgiving post for some amazing glass sloth art from one of our loyal donors.

Four animals released on International Sloth Day
Four animals released on International Sloth Day
Champ leaving for his new home. Is he waving?
Champ leaving for his new home. Is he waving?
International Anteater Day on the 29th of November
International Anteater Day on the 29th of November

Links:

 
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