Almost the last of the resident one month volunteers, booked for this season have now left, and with Goa’s hottest and wettest months ahead of us, probably a long stretch now with little additional help, as our invaluable and regular long term day volunteers, also return to the UK. Although we have many requests to stay with us for the minimum month, and learn about primates and their needs, this enthusiasm is nearly always reserved for Goa’s holiday months, the pre monsoon heat and the following monsoon itself, are not unnaturally avoided. It would be an interesting experience for them, and a great help to us, if they would just try it! Many ex-pats prefer the peace and quiet out of season, and the lush green countryside during the rains.
The monkeys have been enjoying the benefits of having volunteers here, with more walks and new and interesting toys and activities for their pens. Volunteers constructed a bamboo raft for them out of the prolific garden supply. These were planted as small pot plants during the initial construction of the house, and now some 20 meters tall, they march relentlessly across the garden, even though they are regularly cut down for the monkey’s cages, or the many other practical uses around the place, and would soon take over the whole garden if not harvested. The monkeys or any of the other local animals don’t like the dry and brittle leaves to eat unfortunately, although the youngsters in the wild troops of Langurs, do play in them, deliberately swaying on the tallest ones, until they crash down across the garden. The raft was a big hit with all our monkeys, who couldn’t wait to try it out for themselves.
Aaji, meaning ‘granny’ in the local language, was bought in to us, from a loving family, but from a totally unmanageable and unsuitable life, as a house pet. She was grossly overweight through an incorrect diet. She now happily shares a pen and a more normal monkey diet and life, but today spotted a new volunteer here, a local young lady, Haritha, and clearly, remembering her early life with an Indian family, jumped straight on to her lap for cuddles. She usually just ignores all the European volunteers and visitors, preferring her monkey friend, Tansy, or Nagesh, our main monkey walker.
When walking the monkeys in the pool or gardens, they all need to be on long rope leads, to stop them harassing and trying to fight with the other monkeys still in their pens, and to protect them from attacks by the visiting wild monkeys. Trying to find a supply of this soft. but strong rope , has always been a problem here, nylon can give nasty rope burns to both monkeys and handlers, cotton soon rots in the moist heat here. On trial now is hopefully a solution to this that was donated to the primate trust for the purpose, by the Eliza Tinsley Company, from the UK. So far it is showing great promise and we are hoping that it will stand up to the monsoon conditions too.
The wholesale fruit suppliers have also been coming up trumps of late, with their donations of fruit. Hundreds of cantaloupe melons were given to us on one trip and also several large crates of mangoes recently. These more expensive and exotic items are usually rarely donated, or found free for the monkeys, so just a few will normally get divided up into small pieces, so as many as possible get a small bit to taste. When faced with a whole bowl of them at feed time, It seemed the monkeys were satisfactorily stunned by this temporary change of circumstances.
No successful monkey rescues recently, but several road accidents reported involving the remaining wild langurs, trying to cross the ever busier roads, to get to new feeding areas. All that we found were past our help.
At the local market the pup and kitten rescues are still on-going, although WVS held a free spaying clinic, on site, to help with this dumping problem, this is the best long term solution of course. One mornings search had thankfully turned up no abandoned victims that morning, but as I was leaving, a council worker pointed out a plastic sack, among the many, firmly tied up, that he said he thought had been moving. Sure enough it was filled with kittens, seemingly unharmed, but if not spotted in time, they would soon have simply suffocated, or been thrown into the rubbish collection truck, for crushing.