Saturday, January 28, 2023

Refuge rehabilitates wild animals in Panama

ANCÓN, Panama ( Associated Press) — In a corner of a jungle, near the edge of the Panamanian Interoceanic Canal, two red spider monkeys use their tails to swing deftly in a large enclosure.

These primates—Ateles Geoffroy—are in a wildlife rehabilitation refuge administered by the Ministry of the Environment. On site, a group of biologists and veterinarians are in charge of the medical care, care and rehabilitation of monkeys, cats, toucans and deer, among other species of wild animals, that have been rescued or confiscated.

Animals are examined to determine their health status and if they require treatment. Once recovered, they begin the difficult and complex task of rehabilitation with the hope that one day they can be returned to their natural habitat.

Animals confiscated by authorities come from people in shelters who had them as pets or for sale without authorization, rescued after being orphaned or run over, electrocuted, sick, poisoned and other Victims of being attacked by animals.

The environment ministry reported that the arrival of animals spiked during the pandemic, forcing authorities to ramp up infrastructure to house them.

“People don’t understand that they can’t buy a wildlife animal from someone who doesn’t have the authority to sell it,” Felipe Cruz, an environmental crime adviser to the ministry, told The Associated Press.

Panamanian law places specific restrictions on the possession of wild animals. The Ministry of the Environment only allows the capture of wildlife for the production and consumption of protein from zoos, community farms or species such as deer, painted rabbits and iguanas, as long as the species is not at risk of extinction. ,

Added to the irresponsible tenure, is the loss of natural habitats in many parts of the planet, due to increasing agricultural boundaries, hydroelectric projects, mining, urban development and climate change. Although the trafficking of wild species is not the main reason for the loss of specimens, it is a matter of concern for the authorities.

According to the Public Ministry data, 34 cases of wildlife trafficking have been registered in 2019, 18 cases in 2021 and 19 cases till September this year. In relation to the crime of extraction of resources or wildlife species that are protected or in danger of extinction, 22 were reported in 2019, 17 last year and 14 till September this year.

The red spider monkeys who are at the shelter – and who were pets before being confiscated – have been in the enclosure for more than eight months and will spend some more time in rehabilitation, explained Eric Nuñez, the environment ministry’s national head of biodiversity.

“They are animals that are very accustomed to human presence, here we feed them through a window, there is very little contact with us” unless medical treatment is necessary, he said.

He added that “once primates are with people they adapt very well to living in a home environment, but then rehabilitating a monkey as a pet is a huge problem.” Nuñez insisted. When an animal gets used to a human being, it is very difficult to break that learning.

Primates are among the animals the ministry receives the most and although there are many species in Panama, the ones that come most commonly are spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, marmosets and howlers to a lesser extent.

One of the biggest health problems of animals kept as pets is that they generally receive an inadequate diet. This can lead to bone deformities and metabolic problems. The acclimatization process is given a diet similar to what they eat in the wild but it can vary from person to person.

Red spider monkeys are fed a mixture of fruits that are bought in stores, wild fruits such as jojoba, and young leaves that biologists collect in the wild. As the time of release approaches, the fruits that they would not be able to find in the wild are exhausted. In their natural habitat, red spider monkeys also prey on birds’ nests and eat their eggs.

In addition to primates, cats such as ocelots, margays and jaguarundis are often found. as well as slow-moving animals that have been driven onto roads such as anteaters, opossums and sloths. Among the birds are young owls and owls that drop from nests and birds of prey such as hawks and hawks.

The site is home to 15 to 20 animals at a time, but numbers vary as specimens often enter with only minor injuries and quickly return to their habitat.

In a gallery used for veterinary medicine, there are injured toucans that cannot fly and once they recover, they will be transferred to other larger enclosures for their rehabilitation. One of the toucans is a young pup who will spend at least two months receiving care and perhaps another year undergoing rehabilitation. There are also marmosets, one of which has a broken tail.

The rehabilitation facility houses a crab-eating fox, a typical South American species that has been invading areas further north in recent decades. A man handed her over to the authorities fearing that he would die after finding her alone in the woods. The animal is probably five to six months old and the biologists will wait for a few more months before releasing it.

There is also a juvenile ocelot calf – known as an ocelot – in Panama. “Unfortunately, people have it as a pet too, they brought it from Darren when it was just 23 weeks old, very, very young. Thank god we managed to get him to eat because it is important that he eats at that age.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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