Sunday, 07 September 2008

A week to try a monkey rescuer's resolve!

This past week, was a really mixed bag for the Monkey Helpline. In between dealing with monkey-related issues we also run one of the other ARA projects, Animal Rescues Unlimited. Which means that we often get calls about everything from shrews that have fallen into someone's pool to dogs on the road, kittens down a drain or troops of Banded Mongooses tearing up a prizewinning landscaped garden. We are even called on to help with Leopards and Pythons eating animals that the people would rather be eating themselves. This has been one of those weeks. So, by Sunday evening, we had also dealt with four dogs, two pigeons, two doves, one Hadeda Ibis, a two-meter Green Mamba and two Herald snakes. And of course, there are always the monkeys!

This is a rundown of the monkey rescues we were involved with:

Monday 1 - We've already dealt with the broken pelvis, pellet-riddled young adult male Vervet rescued on MECCE (see posting, "They shoot monkeys, don't they!!)

Tuesday 2 - No monkey rescues the entire day. Not sure if that is good or bad.

Wednesday 3 - One rescue late afternoon just as we thought we might get two consecutive rescue-free days. We responded to a call from a visitor to the Harlequins sport club on the Bluff, Durban where we found a sad young male Vervet with a badly broken back caused by a bite from another monkey. In spite of his injury he was sitting up eating when we arrived, but the moment he laid eyes on us he fled, using only his arms and dragging his paralysed lower body. What a tragically sad sight! Once caught he was boxed and immediatey taken to our vet who diagnosed a fractured spine and euthanased him immediately!

What a lousy way to end a day that had started so happily when, through one of our rescue assistants, we successfully released a recovered mother Vervet and her eight month-old baby, who had been with us for over two months, back into their troop.

Thursday 4 - Late morning a call from Shelley Beach on the KZN south coast about a sick looking monkey in a residential complex. Urgency required a quick phone call to friend Eric, Senior Inspector at the Lower South Coast SPCA, who responded immediately. He captured the monkey and took her to a vet in Margate. Advanced poisoning was the diagnosis - euthansed!

Midday and we received a call from Hillcrest saying that a large male monkey with a serious cut across his lower back was moving through the callers garden. It sounded bad so we rushed there to assess the situation first hand. We established that the cut was actually a bite sustained in a fight with another male monkey (See our earlier posting about injured male Vervets) and that it woud be better to leave the monkey to recover on his own. As a daily visitor with his troop to the caller's garden, he could be monitored to see how he was recovering. The caller felt confident that she would notice if he took a turn for the worse and would call us immediately if need be.

Just back home in Westville and a call from Kloof about a monkey struck by a motor car and lying on the side of the road. We responded immediately but due to the risk of the monkey being picked up by someone for whom monkey flesh is a sought after delicacy, we asked the Koof SPCA, situated less than 1km from the scene, to monitor the monkey until we arrived. Unfortunately the adolescent male Vervet had suffered severe head and chest injuries and was dead by the time we arrived to collect him.

Friday 5 - Dinks Riley from coastal Umhloti north of Durban called to tell us of a young monkey being seriously hammered by her troop. From her description of what was happpening to this baby we knew she would not survive much longer. We have so much experience of this kind of bullying and its tragic outcome, so we raced up to Umhloti after advising Dinks how to try and lure the baby into her home and keep her confined until we arrived. Minutes later she called back to say the monkey was in a closed bedroom awaiting our arrival. At Dinks' home we found the baby monkey sitting quietly on top of a bookshelf, and catching and boxing her in the room was very easy.

Looking at the other troop members it was very obvious that this is a troop under severe stress. So much of their habitat has been destroyed for residential development and they have to forage more and more in homes and gardens for food. With a high level of monkey-intolerance in Umhloti, they are constantly being chased by intolerant residents and hounded by yapping dogs.

Once at the Riverside Veterinary Clinic, we could see the severity of her injuries. Both eyids had bite wounds, her nose and nasal bone were mashed from a bite by a bigger monkey, her tail was badly injured and she had numerous cuts and scars all over her body, with a particularly bad bite on her one heel. Her short life in the troop of her birth must have been a constant misery, so often the case when a young monkey loses his or her mother at an early age. Vet Kerry Easson cleaned and treated her injuries and medicated her, after which she was brought home to our high care facility where Carol's TLC will be the treatment of choice for the next two weeks whilst we deliberate her future - rehabilitation or sanctuary? Definitely Return to her troop? Emphatically "NO"!

Saturday 6 - Every Saturday we have a table at the Essenwood Market in Durban. The market is very popular and is a great venue for showing people what we do and teaching them about monkeys. Its here that we launched our "Regulate the use of pellet guns" campaign the previous week (all about this camaign in a forthcoming posting).

Only rescue this day was a sick city pigeon, although there was a high number of phone calls from people having problems with monkeys.

Sunday 7 - A quiet morning and then late afternoon Monkey Helpline rescue assistant Caitlin from Amanzimtoti phoned from Port Shepstone, 120 km down the coast, to say she had picked up a baby monkey hit by a car. She said he was unconscious and breathing with difficulty. A bad time on a Sunday for finding a vet, so we agreed that she woud bring the monkey to Amanzimtoti to meet us. Less than an hour later we met her there and took over the baby monkey. We had aready phoned Kerry who said she would meet us at the clinic.

En route we got another rescue call from Sally in Sherwood, Durban. She is an old friend of the monkeys who has called us out to rescue monkeys before. This time it was a very sickly, slow moving young adult female. When we arrived at the scene the monkey was lying face down on the road and hardly put up a fight as we netted her. Second monkey aboard and we were on our way to rendevous with Kerry.

It was not a happy outcome! X-rays revealed that the baby had a crushed pelvis. Euthanased.

Then another X-ray showed that the sick female had been shot through the diaghram and lungs with a pellet. She had suffered horribly for a few days at least. Euthanased.

And thats how the rescue week ended. Not a good one!

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