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
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
 
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