Oct 1, 2021

Moving forward!

Critical calf care during Covid-19
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
Local volunteers making a difference
New life during Covid-19
New life during Covid-19
The joys of having the right equipment!
The joys of having the right equipment!
Feb 10, 2020

In Closing Off...

First monkey leaving release enclosure
First monkey leaving release enclosure

2019 was an amazing year... a huge thank you to all of you for your part in ensuring that we had everything in place for successfully trialing our first spider monkey release. We have met and exceeded our fundraising goal, have supported the post-release tracking team in the field, have recently had an opportunity to check on one of the released spider monkeys (Penny), who has maintained her weight and is very healthy, and now have the infrastructure support at Fireburn for future releases.

Perhaps the biggest news for the start of this new year is the establishment of the release site - Fireburn and the North East Biological Corridor, as a legally defined protected area, ensuring long-term security as part of the National Protected Areas System of Belize.

Twenty-three years ago we had a dream of maintaining forest connectivity in North East Belize, and partnered with the Fireburn Community to take the first step towards making that dream a reality. At the end of January, 2020 the ntr f grultur, Fhr, Frtr, th nvrnmnt, utnbl Dvlmnt nd mmgrtn gnd nt lw n rdr t dlr th Nrth-trn lgl rrdr. h rttion of the almost 28,000 hectares of mrtnt frt and wetlands secures not only th blgl nntvt f rttd r, important for the long term viability of both our spider monkeys and howler monkeys, but also fgurds th tm rv, nludng wtrhd protection nd rn frmtn. With this corner of Belize at high risk from climate change impacts - particularly reduced rainfall and changing rainfall patterns - this ecosystem protection is an important component of Belize's nature-based adaptation to mitigate climate change impacts.

Thank you once again for your support for the spider monkeys...and for helping us get them back to the wild! We will be closing this funding appeal, but stay with us! Follow us on our Facebook page as we go into the next season of releases back into the wild....

Wildtracks on Facebook

North East Biological Corridor
North East Biological Corridor
Nov 12, 2019

Rescue in the wild...

Mowgli, a victim of troop squabbles at Fireburn
Mowgli, a victim of troop squabbles at Fireburn

As we move into November, we look back over the last year - and what a year it has been! The spider monkeys have been illusive over the last few months - a sighting here, and a glimpse there, but not enough to build a picture of how they have been doing. These fast moving monkeys have been a step ahead of us for most of the post-release, leading the tracking crew into the depths of the tropical forest that cloaks the North East Corridor.

In between tracking the spider monkeys, the team has also been keeping an eye on the howler monkeys, checking on the established troops and most recently, their new wild born babies. Wildtracks has one of the most successful primate reintroduction programmes in the world, with the reintroduction of endangered Yucatan black howler monkeys into Fireburn, an area they disappeared from more than eighty years ago. Sixty five adults have been released in groups over the last seven years - groups formed during the rehabilitation process...and more than fifty young have been born in the wild. This is testament to the fact that confiscated pet monkeys can go back into the wild and live full lives, contributing to successful conservation outcomes. Listening to their howls reverberating around the forest at night brings home the impact a programme such as this can have - re-wilding an area and bringing back the sounds of a species that had disappeared. Fireburn once more echoes with the calls of howler monkeys.

During a recent survey, while watching one of the wild troops, the tracking team noticed a female howler moving fast through the trees with a youngster holding tight to her back... being chased by another female. As they followed the two females deeper into the forest, they heard a shriek...and came across the youngster lying on the ground, with a serious injury to his upper arm. With a obviously broken bone, the team decided that the only option was to bring the tiny baby howler monkey back to the Rehabilitation Centre. 

Now named Mowgli, this youngster was rushed to the vet where he received amazing, almost microscopic surgery on his tiny upper arm. Despite needing a pin and external fixator, this small individual has kept his sense of adventure and exploration, and strolls through life with a great attitude. His injury hasn't held him back, and his recovery has been fast...his arm has healed and he has now joined the nursery troop. He is climbing as well as his troop mates, jumping from branch to branch, showing no signs of being held back by his injury, and is now on his own journey back to the wild.

Success!  A wild-born howler monkey baby
Success! A wild-born howler monkey baby
Mowgli's squishy sleep face
Mowgli's squishy sleep face
 
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