Today we went back to see Carol and Earl atthe Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. 700 acres of designated National Park in the rainforest, in such a remote location where it is only accessible by boat with only two hours of electricity a day and very limited phone access, is a wonderful place to be able to visit two days in a row.
Sweetie, the big spider monkey I had anaesthetised yesterday was there to greet us as we waded into shore through about three foot of water (always a challenge considering the 12 foot crocs and bull sharks that patrol the waters) and she had forgiven me for her in the arm and avidly pointed out the wounds on her legs, asking me to scratch or rub them for her. I sprayed them with blue spray instead and she loved this even more surpsingly and I had to do it repeatedly before I could escape! I have to say, that spider monkeys are now up there on my favourite primates of all time, mainly thanks to the incredible endearing qualties of Sweetie and Winkie who stuck with us throughout much of the day and won everyones hearts.
The mission today was to castrate a couple of collared peccaries – wild forest pigs – and this was a job and a half. The boar (collared peccaries are notorious for being wild, undomesticable and very dangerous) was thankfully relaxed for the injection, but I had a heck of job to castrate him (pre scrotal approach – not a good idea as the gubernaculam and fascia is an absolute hellish thing to get through). I think it was the hardest castrate I have ever done on any animal in terms of technical headache. Learning from this, I did the younger pig with a scrotal approach and it was a piece of cake, so lesson learned if I am ever in that situation again.
I also treated a possum, a three week old baby anteater and went with Carol to release three howler monkeys back into the rainforest – one of which was called Lulu – which was brilliant as my head nurse back home is called Lulu and it was hilarious as I called Lulu and she jumped on my head. I could only imagine Lulu (at Pilgrims) being in absolute stitches as we tried to encourage her howler monkey counterpart out the enclosure!
I am completley sold on all Carol and Earl are doing and am so privileged to have met and worked with them. A real treat and I think they are doing brilliant work and are incredibly worthy of all the support they can muster. It is very tough for them being so isolated, championing the rainforest and the sanctity of the animals within it, and the creatures I have met and worked with over the last two days will stay with me for a long time.
It is visiting places like this that really brings home what an awesome experience making this series has been and I think all of us have loved the last couple of days. Adam was walking along with one of the monkeys firmly clamped top his head soon after we arrived and I saw both Chris and Marc having some quiet time with other monkeys that came up to say hello to them. It was unique for all of us and in a very different way to the other primate experiences we have had over the last ten months. Somehow, they seem a bit more vulnerable here (which isn’t quite true as with Carol and Earl as guardians they couldn’t hope for better despite being a critically endangered species) and that made the whole experience really exceptional.
We polished off the day by meeting up Christine and helped lend a hand setting up the McKee spay clinic on the beach tomorrow. It promises to be a brilliant day so early night tonight to get fresh and ready for a hadcore mission tomorrow – looking forward to it!