Hard Times 20th March 2013

A really disheartening time, with the loss of the new kittens, with the exception of Rita, from some killer bug that literally knocked them down in a day. In a tropical climate it seems that germs are in their element and one minute they were a little off colour, the next past saving. On top of the loss of Pipkin, Paris, and Frazzle the baby Langur didn’t make it despite all efforts. The work has to go on, but these losses still cast a shadow over everything else.

Foster and Fanni on a happier note, Foster continues to improve slowly, and we even had one volunteer baby sitter, who actually followed through, and now regularly comes to give him the special attention he needs to ensure he eats plenty and gets out for lots of walks. With the end of the main holiday season approaching , most of the European visitors are returning home as the temperature and humidity increase, so chances of weaning any more volunteers off the sun beds is reducing.

Katrina Kirsty, the rhesus macaque female, left all alone following Pani’s death is hopefully, one day, going to be allowed to make friends with Katrina, our elderly female rhesus. John has been taking them for walks together, and with only a limited barrier, putting them in the same pen for short periods. The problem is Katrina, who always goes into the attack first on meeting any other monkey. She had been sharing with a bonnet female “Matilda” who was young and fit enough to keep out of reach of her when Katrina was in a mood, and at times they even seem to enjoy each others company. However as Matilda grew older and wiser she realised that Katrina doesn’t in fact have any teeth left, so had begun to bully her over the food. Matilda has been moved into an all male bonnet macaque group, where of course she is the main attraction and loves it. Hopefully Katrina will learn to enjoy Kirsty’s company, as she is one of the quieter monkeys although she doesn’t really like humans.

Loading bananas at the market three days a week we have to go to the fruit wholesalers in the nearby town to get monkey supplies. Bananas are grown here and we get the loose ones quite cheaply for them and as no one wants to buy single bananas. Occasionally we get given more than our monkeys should eat. The surplus are then sent to the IAR centre for any cows that are there for treatments. Quite a strange concept after the cost of buying them in a British supermarket! Pineapples are also of little monetary value and the small ones are simply discarded by the sellers as not worth bothering with, so we collect them for the monkeys. The same applies to any double or fused fruits, as they are considered unlucky and no one will buy them, so the monkeys benefit from this superstition. The water melon sellers save us any of their damaged, bruised or misshapen fruits and again surplus goes to the rescued cows. Its fun to watch a cow trying to get a grip on an enormous water melon to take the first crunching, splattering bite, they don’t seem to have worked out they could simply tread on it. The rest of the monkeys varied diet unfortunately we have to pay full price for.

Phooka with His handbag Puck and Phooka, last years Langur babies are now big strapping lads, but still play nicely with Ella and Evie the younger ones, and with Dennis, who although much smaller still holds his own through being a lot more nimble, and quick thinking. The macaques all have to survive on their wits, where as Langurs are essentially forest monkeys and leaves and fruit don’t need catching or outwitting. Some visitors brought up some unwanted clothes and things for the monkeys to play with; Phooka loved a little handbag and carried it around till it fell to bits

Giant Hornbills at the nest box the saga of the rare giant Hornbills continues with the visits increasing gradually to twice a day now. On every visit the nest box is the main attraction yet frustratingly they don’t get further than the doorway. I can see that the nearest we are going to get to claiming nesting giant Hornbills is that our nest box is regularly inspected! Looking on the web it seems they can visit for years before taking the final plunge, and we have the added distraction of the local wild Langur troop who seem to chase them away and also Sam, one of our dogs who is incensed by their presence and has to be restrained from chasing them off.


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