Spider monkeys in the Release Enclosure, Fireburn
This is it…the spider monkeys are now down at the release site before their final release in March! January has been a month of intense emotions as we prepared the first group of spider monkeys for their move to the release enclosure at the release site, way back in the Fireburn forest.
4th January, 2019
The Wildtracks Tracking Team headed down to Fireburn - complete with camping equipment, construction equipment and food for two weeks - to construct the pre-release enclosure for Charlie's spider monkey group. All equipment and supplies had to be carried over the lagoon by boat, and then the 7 km to the release site by tractor, with help from the Fireburn community. With no roads into the area, and deep tractor ruts on the single track, moving the kit into the site was a challenge, not helped when the tractor got stuck several times on the way. When night fell, the Team were still working hard to arrive at the site.
6th January, 2019
The camp is set up...the Tracking Team are going to be here in rotation for up to a year to ensure the spider monkey release is a success...they have set up their kitchen and dining area. Fried jacks, as always, are on the menu! The shower water comes from an old Maya well - the whole Fireburn area has many reminders of the Maya civilization that once thrived here.
The Team's task is to get the enclosure up in time for the spider monkeys arrival on the 18th January. The release enclosure will hold the spider monkeys for the next ten weeks, to ensure they are familiar with the sights and sounds of the immediate release area and are used to being fed here.The door will then be opened and the post-release tracking will start..
17th January, 2019
Wildtracks has been very fortunate to have the support of Twycross Zoo, in the UK, for the upcoming release of the first group of Wildtracks spider monkeys. This includes the assistance of two primate specialists - the Twycross head vet, Dr. Mátyás Liptovszky and primate specialist carer Lainy Miller. They arrived on the 16th, and spent the whole day on the 17th conducting the health assessments on the five spider monkeys being released - Charlie, Duma, Penny, Mattie and Mel. We have also been very fortunate to have the support of in-country vets - Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand of the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic for the darting of the spider monkeys for the health checks, and Drs. Jane Crawford and Philip De Shield of Belize's Animal Medical Centre, assisting with the assessments and running the blood tests. - it has been great working with such fantastic, dedicated people!
The monkeys all had external examinations and a series of blood tests / TB tests to ensure that they are 100% healthy, fit and ready for their next great adventure. The results are good! All monkeys are cleared for release!
18th January, 2019
The monkeys are loaded into the vehicle for their transfer to Fireburn. Like the equipment, they have to cross the lagoon aand be carried through the jungle to the release site. With help from the Tracking Team and the Fireburn Community, they finally reach the release site and are released into their new enclosure.
19th January, 2019
The sun breaks through the clouds….and there they are – five spider monkeys jostling for space in the early morning sunbeams in the release enclosure in the heart of the forest of the North East Biological Corridor. Charlie, Duma, Mattie, Mel and Penny have been amazingly calm during the whole health checks and transfer process, taking it in their stride. Now they are starting their next phase – 10 weeks in the pre-release enclosure to ensure they are familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of their future home, before the doors are opened and the post-release tracking begins…
For Wildtracks, rehabilitation isn't just about improving the health of an animal towards release...it is about ensuring that the release is successful - that the animals have the skills that they need to survive in the wild, thrive and contribute towards strenghtening species populations in Belize, restoring key seed dispersers to improve climate change resilience - and bringing natural balance back to an area from which they have disappeared.
A huge thank you to the fantastic Wildtracks Team for all their hard work in preparing for this transfer, to the Fireburn Community for their assistance, and to Lainy Miller, Mátyás Liptovszky and Twycross Zoo for their support of the health assessments. Thank you to Alysha McGratan, our Primate Rrehab Manager, and all those other members of the Wildtracks Team who have been involved in the rehab care of these spider monkey characters over the years.
A huge shout out to the Wildtracks Team out there at the release site - you guys a seriously awesome!!
Ten weeks in the pre-release enclosure...and then freedom....!
For the illustrated version...
News Brief from the Fireburn Jungle
We look forward to updating you in the next report!
Release enclosure construction
Spider monkey health checks
Mat and Lainy assisting with health checks
Release site camp
Enjoying early morning sunshine