Following the tragic and unexpected death of John, our work here for the monkeys goes on as before and although the monkeys here will receive the same high standard of care, I Just hope that Johns hard work and time, given to improving conditions for all monkey rescues in India, will continue to enlighten other groups into a better understanding of their needs. John was working with the animal welfare board of India to do this, as he was acknowledged to be leading the field in this primate work, as well as the high standards of care he maintained at our rescue centre, International animal Rescue Goa, for all the other species. Nora, the macaque who was devoted to John, is getting as much attention as possible from our staff, and lots of toys and treats from our volunteers, but there is no substitute for John, for any of us, human or monkey!
The latest rescue is a little Langur about 4/5 months old; we have called him ‘Pan’. Found on the road side locally, his mother’s body nearby. Although only a baby still, he had been with his mother long enough to know humans, and a plastic feeding bottle, are a poor substitute. At the time of his rescue, we had Nissa, the bottle reared female, and Alfi, the little male attacked and injured by dogs that had killed his mother. All of them got on well together and were able to give each other support and confidence in coping with life as orphans. Pan soon learned that humans meant him no harm, and will even sit on a lap briefly to take treats, especially biscuits (his favourite!) from his human baby sitters.
Once all three were eating well, and Alfi had fully recovered from his bite wounds, the next stage was to introduce them to the two female young orphans, Christelle and Lily who had already moved on to an outside pen.
Nissa was the first to be introduced to them, and initially they ran away in horror from her. Day after day she spent 1-2 hours with them, with a human for support always present, and gradually they began to play together, and even enjoy each other’s company.
Alfi and Pan were the next to be introduced and the two older females, Christelle and Lily immediately wanted to cuddle and mother them. Pan thought this was great, but Alfi was less sure to start with, but now he happily accepts their cuddles and even their attempts to carry him about.
Nissa, the only one of the 5 to be hand reared, still gets lots of human contact and is always ready to come out for daily walks in the garden. Everyday myself or a volunteer will also spend time sitting in the pen with them and she is keen to get the extra personal attention, including grooming and cuddles, until it’s time to rejoin her new “monkey gang” again.
Raj, the old male rescued from 25 years in a small cage, is also making good progress. He has made friends with many of the regular volunteers, and he is now eager to willingly come to the wire to get treats or a tickle from them.
He has always thought little of the healthy diet of fruit and vegetables we feed our monkeys, and just throws aside items, like the greens, automatically. As he has few teeth left anyway to chew, due to his life previously being on such a poor diet, we now boost his vitamin intake with a dosed daily bowl of rice and vegetable curry, human’s lunch time leftovers. After so long without proper healthy monkey food, I don’t think he will ever greet the arrival of any of it, with the same enthusiasm he gives to this apparently unhealthy option!
We have been lucky to have many live-in volunteers over the last few months, and it is interesting to see how the monkey’s reactions differ. One girl had worked with monkeys before in South America, and our monkey’s spotted her experience straight away. In just a few hours, even our most difficult macaques were happily being taken for walks or a swim with her, accepting her authority without challenge.
Nissa meets many visitors, but has her own ideas on who is an instant friend. I have yet to understand her criteria, but if she decides it’s a ‘friend’ she will happily give cuddles and even groom a total stranger, but other top rate volunteers have had to work hard and long, to get the same degree of trust.
An influx of 4 new cats has gone smoothly. Following the loss of some of the older residents to old age, the new arrivals are: Hannah, a dark tortoiseshell female approx 1 year old; Biscuit, a ginger tabby female also about 1 year old and Coaster, a white and tabby male approx 8 months old. They were all dumped separately in the local fish market (a common fate) and I picked them up in just three of my trips to the market. Legless, a young ginger and white male, was picked up by one of the I.A.R Goa ambulances with a badly injured leg, which then had to be amputated. Although he was put up for re homing at the centre, he was always overlooked due to the missing leg.
They were gradually introduced to the 5 dogs and the 12 resident cats and have now formed a close knit gang of 4, often indulging in mutual grooming and play, as if celebrating their lucky escape from the dire fate, usually met by these unwanted and dumped pets.