Critical calf care during Covid-19
Work at Wildtracks continues, even though a third Covid wave sweeps through Belize, bringing the country to a standstill...again. Wildlife rehabilitation cannot be put on hold, or stopped...the endangered species in our care cannot (and will not) be abandoned because life is throwing virtually unsurmountable challenges in the way - over the past year we have had to work out how to access fruit supplies for more than fifty primates and water hyacinths for six ever-growing manatees when the country is on lockdown. At times, with the borders closed and no volunteer support, we have had to do the work of sixteen people with a team size of five, we have had to cope with Covid-19 at Wildtracks itself, and in our local community, and once the country started to re-open, we had to find funds for additional staff outside the small budget we had available, to keep Wildtracks going. Both primate and manatee releases had to be put on hold for 2020, resulting in increased animals in care, and the increasing maturity of the individuals leading (in the case of the howler monkey) to the addition of new-borns to two of the troops - new life that brought smiles to the faces of the exhausted Wildtracks Team.
However, it has also been inspiring and heart-warming working with such an amazing group of people. We feel doubly fortunate to have our local Wildtracks Team with us. These people have been committed to Wildtracks throughout the State of Emergency, ensuring that the effective care of the endangered (and not so endangered) species here continues with minimal impact to the rehabilitation process. With support from indivudals and organizations around the world, we have been able to ensure our Sarteneja-based staff have remained employed - these men and women are all stars!! The Primate Tracking Team has now taken on many of the day-to-day primate care duties, with constant smiles and enthusiasm (and jokes!). We are also extremely grateful to the youths from Sarteneja, young men and women, for stepping up and volunteering to fill the gaps in manpower. We really appreciated the extra hands, and the interest and commitment they have shown for the animals in their care, and we are honoured to be able to call them part of the Wildtracks Team.
The arrival of a critical-care manatee calf in the middle of the lockdown added extra strain to the Team - 24 hour care, monitoring and night feeds for 'Teek', estimated at two-weeks old. Following an appeal for volunteers, a wave of young people from across Belize signed up to join the Wildtracks manatee team for a week to two weeks at a time, happily taking to life in the wet zone, building their capacity for critical manatee care, and bringing laughter and fresh energy, supporting us through this critical care period!
We are now moving forward, with four of the manatee calves entering soft release - the final step towards their final release back into the wild population. Three howler monkey troops are now back in the wild, and doing well in their new sites. Those troops with young are now reaching a point where moving them towards release will not be a risk, with the youngsters approaching weaning age, and plans are in place for their release before the end of the year.
This appeal has been launched as we are not out of the shadow of Covid-19 yet. We are still counting the costs of keeping the rehabilitation activities effective and producing the conservation outcomes needed for the howler and spider monkeys, and for Belize's manatees in our care, and needing to meet the funding gaps. However, with the financial support of donors such as you, and the heart-warming words of support we have received from Wildtracks supporters from around the world, we are to continue to be able to move forward to face the coming challenges in 2022.
Thank you for your support!
Local volunteers making a difference
New life during Covid-19
The joys of having the right equipment!