11 June 2013

International Animal Rescue: May update from Ketapang

Brave volunteers encourage the
babies to leave the safety of the ground
by Christine Nelson

May has brought some slightly drier weather and a (temporary) respite from rescues. This has allowed us to quickly build up some vital infrastructure on the grounds of the Sungai Awan centre. Essentials like newly routed plumbing, and on-site tools like a generator, incinerator, and internet access will help the daily activities of the center run more smoothly. 

The Great Orangutan Project volunteers have been busy making boardwalks for better access to the forest, as well as some more permanent enrichment fixtures to promote foraging behavior in our babies and juveniles. Some of the staff even received training in tree climbing so we can encourage the youngsters to hang out more where they belong...in the trees!

Gembar is out of quarantine and is just starting out with the little ones in baby school. Noel and Tribune are quite taken with her and her long, flowing hair. If all goes well there and she has the skills and confidence needed to graduate, she will likely be moved to the forest group soon.

Mac and Ujang out in the forest

Melky is by far the biggest juvenile in the forest group and can be found by following the cracking sound of the small trees he uses for travelling. Although he is quite a muscular boy, he is very gentle with the youngest ones and even look after them during rainstorms.

Butan and Marcela are “regulars” when it comes to sleeping in the forest at night, but they have occasionally been joined by Roy, Bandut, Puyol, Sigit, Galang, Laksmi, Mac, and even little Pedro, which bodes very well for their chances of being released back into the wild.

7 June 2013

International Animal Rescue: Treat Time for the Macaques

by biologist and M.Sc student Wendy Gomez, in Ciapus

Here in Ciapus we have been experimenting with different treats for our rescued macaques. Just as with humans, animals have favourite foods and given a choice, will make a beeline for their favourite snacks!
Marko crafts seed bags for the macaques
Most macaques here prefer to eat papaya, boiled eggs and guava fruit rather than carrots or apples. However, one type of food that drives them crazy (and I mean crazy!) is seeds: sunflower, corn and rice. Whenever we put seeds in any of the enrichment devices (see previous post), the animals immediately target these delicious seeds before eating anything else. So I was very much looking forward to seeing their reaction when the keepers gave them the special treat bags they had made – small bags filled with honey or syrup coated seeds!
This sugary treat is a weekly ritual here at the centre, and is part of the enrichment program. I had not seen it before, but my previous encounter with capuchin monkeys (neotropical primates I worked with before coming to Ciapus) had shown me how much they love it. They would grab as much as they could in their hands, stuffing some in their mouths and even in their armpits and run away from the other monkeys! I was looking forward to seeing what crafty strategies the macaques would come up with! 
Macaques have “cheek pouches”, which allow them to store huge amount of food in their cheeks (they extend into their necks!) but I have never seen them being used to the degree they used them for storing these seeds. In fact, I was so astonished that I did some further research, and discovered that these pouches can extend to the size of their stomachs! So no clever strategy required for the macaques – just stuff as much as possible into the cheek pouches!

Sheer delight!

Watching these macaques was like watching a bunch of kids in a room full of goodie bags. After taking the first bag, they couldn’t stop looking for another, and after taking 2 or 3 (each day they’re given an exact amount of food to meet their nutritional requirements, so the amount of bags per group of macaques is also limited), they would just find a place to start the hard work of opening the bags and the process of filling up their pouches.
It was a very nice thing to see. I would say that was very close to pure happiness for the animals, and I just couldn’t stop smiling.  There are definitely no words to describe the feeling you get when you see these animals enjoying things (and on their way to freedom!) after the suffering many of them have endured in the illegal wildlife trade.

Keeping a close eye on his friend!

That was a very cool day for me (and I’m sure it was a very nice day for the macaques as well!) and I thankfully had my camera with me so I could get some shots of the events! Hope you enjoy!