27 January 2012

Two of our female macaques make great mums!

An update from our primate centre in Ciapus, Java from volunteer Chris Wiggs.

On 3rd January, James, an infant male pig-tailed macaque, was brought in to our rescue centre in Ciapus by an expatriate European family living in Indonesia, who had kept him as a pet for 2.5 months. James is an extremely active young macaque, and our mandatory tests on arrival confirmed that he was healthy.

Baby Macaque RescueWhat to do with very young primates is always a challenge. Like human infants, they need a lot of affection, love and care, but if that is provided by IAR staff, there is a danger that they will become too dependent on humans, and jeopardise their chances of rehabilitation and eventual release, the ultimate goal of our project. Luckily, not long after we confirmed he was healthy and unable to pass any disease to other macaques, we were able to place him in a cage with Nonong, an independent adult female, who we hoped would adopt James and raise him herself. IAR staff were all tentative as we introduced them to each other, but as it turned out, there was nothing to be concerned about. Nonong and James have developed a strong bond, and Nonong is an extremely attentive mother, happy to share her food with James and indulgent of his rather boisterous character.

Macaque Rescue IndonesiaJames was the second baby macaque that had been brought to our centre in the last few months. On 25th November, Dora, a female long-tailed macaque, was bought in by staff from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network. Dora was quite thin and extremely anxious when she first arrived, but in otherwise good health. After spending sometime in quarantine, building up her strength and getting accustomed to her new surroundings, it was decided that we would introduce her to Joy, an adult long-tailed female. Like James and Nonong, the introduction went well, and Dora and Joy now share a large enclosure together, and it’s lovely to see them play together, using the enrichment we provide and sharing food.

It’s heartening to see how well Joy and Nonong have taken to motherhood, and how well Dora and James have adapted, and we hope it bodes well for their future in the wild. However, while these two may have found a foster mother and now await their release into the wild, we can’t ignore that many other macaques are kept as pets - often caught when they are very young. IAR continues to educate and create awareness about macaques used as pets and strongly discourages people from doing this NO matter how cute they are!

24 January 2012

Three macaques get their first taste of freedom

News of our latest macaque rescues from Chris Wiggs, volunteer at our primate centre in Ciapus, Java.

The IAR team setting Koja free from the chain that binded him for many yearsOur macaque and slow loris rescue centre in Ciapus was recently contacted by a member of the public, concerned about a long-tailed macaque she had seen chained up in a residential street in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Long-tailed macaques are a common household pet throughout Indonesia, and it isn’t unusual to see them kept in this way, particularly when they reach adulthood.

Further discussions with this woman revealed that she was herself the owner of two long-tailed macaques. After our vets explained about our centre and the ethical issues and challenges of keeping primates in captivity, she agreed to hand them over to us. So last week the IAR team headed to Jakarta to rescue three macaques!

Koja spent many years living like this.The first macaque was an adult male that was being kept outside someone’s house, and was attached to a wooden bench by a chain around his waist. Although the owner insisted he often took the macaque for walks, the macaque looked agitated and was continually biting himself. The area was busy, and directly opposite a very noisy school, so it isn’t difficult to imagine how frightened he must have been. In these situations, IAR vets usually use a blow dart to anaesthetise macaques, but as a large number of local people, including children, had gathered round to watch, it was decided to try and sedate him by hand. The IAR vets assessed the situation and felt it was safe to do it by hand while using a net for protection. How local people interpret our actions is incredibly important to us, and we were worried how using a blow dart would look, particularly to school children! Once the macaque had been anaesthetised, he was transferred in to an IAR transport cage, and our vet Intan gave a presentation to the local residents about our project, why we were taking the macaque and our veterinary procedures. Leaflets were also handed out. The fact that a member of the public had alerted us to this macaque in the first place is a positive sign, and we hope our outreach activities continue these developments!

The owner who called us and was willing to give up her macaque despite being very sad. Here she is seen helping put her macaque into the transport cage.We then went to rescue the two macaques kept as pets. One of these macaques, a young female, was chained to a tree, while the other, a slightly older female, was kept in a cage. Although the conditions were completely inappropriate for macaques, in a busy residential area, just off a main road, and the macaque in the cage had obviously been plucking the hairs out of her legs, the owner clearly loved the animals, and she had a good relationship with them. Although she was upset to give them up, they will have a far better life at our centre, where they will be introduced to other macaques, begin the rehabilitation process and be assessed for possible future release back in to the wild.

All three macaques are currently undergoing quarantine, and will be tested for any diseases in the coming days.

13 January 2012

New Years update from our baby school

Norwegian vet Silje provides an update on the babies at our emergency centre in Ketapang

Baby orangutans with ice block2012 is starting off hot in Ketapang, and the babies are cooling off with some ice blocks filled with fruit and syrup. Lasmi has finally finished her quarantine period and was introduced to the juveniles in their play area a few weeks ago. She was immediately checked out by the gang, Melky of course leading the “attack”, and was soon accepted in the group. Lasmi is still quite cautious, but has fitted in well with the rest.

Also out testing new ground is little Gunung, who is now regularly allowed a sneak peak at his future play-comrades in the baby school. Under close supervision he is being brought to the outside play area and introduced to the other babies. He is certainly a little unsure in the new environment, but is comforted gently by among others Lady and Rahayu.

Orangutans Gunung and RayayuOur latest arrival, Butan, is also showing slow, but steady improvement from her severe malnourishment and malaria infection. She is still under 24 hours a day care by the medical team, receiving medication and physiotherapy. Because of her traumas in the past, she was very depressed and had almost no muscle mass. But her appetite has increased and she is more agile, now she spends most of her time in the trees in the quarantine area – clearing them for ants! Still she has a long way to go for a full recovery, but she has a strong and wonderful personality and thankfully she is getting a little better every day.

In the clinic we are now able to add ultrasound examination to our diagnostic aids, thanks to Jan F Andersen AS, a Norwegian veterinary equipment company. One of the first candidates to test the new machine was Bandut, a 4 year old male who has a long history of diarrhoea and anaemia. This will be a great tool for us in the diagnostic work here, and as long as we make sure to bribe the orangutans with some tasty fruits, they are quite cooperative!