As mentioned in the earlier blog we, sadly, had a record breaking month at the Trust in January and were all hoping that February would have a much lower incident rate. Unfortunately, despite a quiet first few days, it now looks like this month may see no significant reduction in the number of primate deaths in Diani unless something changes- fast.
On Monday 2nd the Animal Welfare Team responded to a call about an adult Sykes which was suspected of being poisoned. There were no obvious signs of injury but it seemed to be slightly paralyzed down its left side. The vet treated him and over the next few days we regularly gave him Dextrose to keep him hydrated. Unfortunately, although he looked like he was getting stronger; he died on Wednesday of Tetanus and was cremated in the afternoon.
On Thursday we had three new cases, the first one was a female Vervet which had a superficial injury on its right side, possibly from ‘in troop’ fighting. The worrying thing was that although it certainly seemed more alert than the Sykes, it too was displaying paralysis in its left side and dragged its left leg. Regrettably, she too died within 48 hours of being brought in to the Trust, another victim of Tetanus.
The second case, on the face of it, looks hopeful. Just as the staff were finishing for the day a local resident pulled up with a small cardboard box with holes punched in the sides and there were some very strange noises coming from inside.
When we opened the box a small Vervet face was looking up at us, an infant who had been brought all the way back from Tsavo (approximately 200km from Diani)! It seems that the resident had been visiting and seen some children playing with the baby, its mother nowhere in sight, so had brought him to us for the correct care and attention. After a quick check up to ensure there were no obvious problems he was handed over to us, the volunteers, for feeding every 3 hours. He’d had a long journey from home, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is one which will have a happy ending.
Almost immediately after we had given him a feed and got him settled with a hot water bottle for a surrogate Mum; another Sykes monkey was brought in. Disappointingly this was another victim of a road traffic accident. We haven’t taken any photos as the whole face had been torn open with a large gash from forehead to mouth and the prognosis didn’t look hopeful. Just the shock of what was obviously such a high speed impact would have been enough to prove fatal. We called the vet to treat her and followed his direction for after care but unfortunately when we checked in the morning she had died.
Three-hourly feeding of the baby Vervet continued and late in the afternoon of Friday a juvenile Sykes was brought in, a further RTA victim. This guy looked in bad shape and after a visiting vet had looked him over the diagnosis was possible internal bleeding with regular check ups required through the night. Unfortunately this was much too traumatic for the small Sykes and he died the next day. After such an investment of time and emotions it can be hard to accept.
On Monday two more dead monkeys were found. One, on the road not far from the Trust, had obviously been killed on impact by a hit and run driver. Thankfully a resident had called to let us know what had happened. The other, a victim of electrocution that will be investigated further.
Despite all these sad stories the baby Vervet continues to go from strength to strength (if his bite is anything to go by). And although he does require a lot of care and attention, as all babies do in the early months, we have to think that he will have a long future ahead of him. To dwell too much on the trauma of him being taken from his mother, or indeed what her fate might have been, does not help remedy the situation and we are doing what we can to find him a suitable home where he can play and learn with other monkeys.
Only with your continued help, support and donations can the Trust continue to provide care for injured monkeys and monkeys in need of rehabilitation. If you are planning a holiday why not plan the experience of a lifetime and come to volunteer at the trust. You will be helping to prolong the life of the primates in Diani.
Tracey Stenson, Colobologist