Much activity and new monkey partnerships this month, with the visit of Dr Lisa Jones Engel , Senior research scientist and Associate Professor from the University of Washington centre. Having visited John last year and been impressed by his understanding and care of the monkeys, and the work of the primate trust, she kindly volunteered to joined us at the tree house for a week to advise and help with our work..
It is through this visit and with help from a long term volunteer Tom and our main primate handler Nagesh that we have now managed to get some more difficult monkeys living together, and hopefully more to come.Nora, a long time resident, of late on her own, due to the bullying tactics of all her previous young male companions, is now sharing with Rolo. He was rescued by John many years ago and had been kept permanently on a short chain as a “pet” in someone’s garden since a baby. We had hoped to get Nora and Tilly to share but progress had been very slow due to lack of monkey walkers, then we had considered Kochi, Nora loves babies, but the chances are the bulling of old mum , once Kochi became a teenager, would resume , and she would have eventually needed rescuing from him! Nora and Rolo, having lived in adjoining cages for some time now were the perfect candidates for living together, the expert advice was followed, and to date it has been a success, even sharing their food, something Rolo would never previously have allowed. The absence of John as her favourite male may well have helped her to settle for Rolo.
Rolo With Nora
The next partnership that has been achieved is of Raj and Katrina. Raj is a 25+ male bonnet macaque, Katrina a 22+ Rhesus macaque, and a female of course. Unwanted babies and the risk if Raj were to be castrated, were the reasons we did not try this before! There is some uncertainty if Katrina would still be fertile, but with some expert advice and solutions to family planning if they mated, meant we could get them together at last. This has not gone so smoothly, as both are so damaged by their long years of isolation, mental torture to a monkey. They are sharing a pen, but apart from Katrina’s occasional frustrated attacks on Raj, neither by the way, have enough teeth to inflict real damage, they remain at least 3 foot apart at all times. Raj has never learned to groom others, unlike Katrina, and this she finds endlessly frustrating as she makes all the right moves, but gets ignored. Even with humans Raj does no grooming, only stereotypical self grooming of his own hands. Grooming is a basic monkey behaviour, which is usually present, even in isolated ‘pets’ and when unable to be fulfilled by contact with others. As there is no close contact, let alone affection, at least this means we don’t have to worry about birth control as yet. Raj has however, not given up his sleeping barrel but keeps maximum distance from Katrina by sleeping right at the back.
Kochi has also taken big steps to growing up. With Nora settled with company, this means he can join the other three youngsters with Ruby, and he has now met and even stayed in the pen with them all for periods during the day. He has also made great strides with his swimming skills, now launching himself into the pool with abandon, and even swimming under water. Ruby loves to mother him, but we will need to take care she doesn’t cast away her past babies , Dennis and Dixie in his favour, when they all spend more time in the pen together.
Tansy , the partially paralysed old female macaque, was seen and treated by a specialist vet, who has worked with our monkeys before, Nikhil Prabhugaonkar on his return from America. The steroid treatment she is now getting has defiantly resulted in some improvement; she has some movement in all limbs, even walking on all fours for short spells, is eating well, and at least seems content with her restricted life.
A sad rescue of a new born Languor did not have a happy ending, despite all the love and care given by us and the volunteers here to pull him through. His mother had been attacked by dogs and had died, or been driven away wounded, he was left behind, also quite badly bitten and taken to the rescue centre, and then to us for 24 hour care. A sad but too common fate for the remaining wild Langurs in Goa, whose loss of territory and quiet forest areas, drives them ever more into co habitation with humans and their dogs, and the resulting dangers.