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Monthly Update - May 2004
May has seen the animal release program advance more than I could have thought possible. We have been operating the program for over two years now and have had some great successes with the release of unwanted pets and confiscated animals but over the last six weeks we have had to work quickly to accommodate our latest arrivals. Perhaps the most exciting new resident at the centre is Preciosa, a 5 month-old female jaguar cub!! She was orphaned when her mother was shot and the young cub was taken to the local vet in Puerto Maldonado.
When I was approached and asked if I would like to receive her it was with great excitement but also a little trepidation that I said yes. Even at this young age she is a formidable size and has tremendous force which means that we shall have to adopt a different form of animal management as the majority of our rescued animals allow staff and volunteers alike to enter the cages to clean and check their health. Thus I have received the cub on the condition that the vet visits on a monthly basis to check its health and if necessary put her to sleep temporarily should any medical attention be needed. Preciosa's new enclosure is almost completed and she will have a large and comfortable area in which to live until she completes her first 18 months and then she will be anaesthetised and released in a secure location away from the threat of trophy hunters after her magnificent pelt. Preciosa is being fed a mixture of dead meat and live chickens so, like the margay, when she is released she will be an adept hunter more than capable of looking after herself.
I was very happy indeed to receive five brilliantly coloured macaws in May also. Our first ever resident at Taricaya was a scarlet macaw called Leonela and it was truly rewarding to see her grow new flight feathers and when released eventually she was always to be seen flying around the centre appearing at the kitchen when food was a little scarce! Volunteers have completed a spacious aviary for the five birds and they have plenty of space to exercise their wings as their flight feathers slowly regenerate over the next 8 months or so. We have two Red-and-Green Macaws (Ara chloroptera), see left, two Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) and one Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna). These are the three biggest macaws in the area and it will be fantastic to watch them recuperate and regain the ability to fly before releasing them together. We also received a Yellow-Crowned Parrot (Amazona ochrocephala) in a similar condition. Our experience with macaws, parrots and parakeets is that they will gradually broaden their territory when released but will always be seen flying around at some point during the day which will enable us to monitor their progress even after release. During their rehabilitation we shall be investigating the speed of regeneration of the flight feathers and hence we shall have a good data-base on times of recovery for when we receive more macaws and parrots.
The other two new residents at the centre are a male South American Coati cub (Nasua nasua) and a baby Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu). The male coati has already formed a strong pair bond with Achu, our female coati cub of similar age, and they are now inseparable in their mischief as they roam the centre terrorising unsuspecting volunteers! The obvious hope for the pair is that they will grow closer and closer and so when released they will mate and increase the local population of coatis under the protection of our private reserve. The baby peccary is currently in an enclosure but after a month we will release it and our experience previously with peccaries is that he will remain around the centre foraging and gradually getting to know the area. Peccaries are incredibly resourceful and being omnivorous feed on almost anything. In 2002 we had a collared peccary, Sah, who became so accustomed to the area he would follow the volunteers along the trails, find something of interest, disappear (presumed lost!) only to pop up a couple of days later before repeating the whole procedure again.
The margay, Imba, is nearing the end of his time with us. His reintroduction will be in our reserve and he has developed into a more than capable hunter. He is almost a year old and whilst he accepts the presence of humans he will not be threatened for his pelt as he will make his new territory in our reserved area.
The other projects at the centre continue to function well with the canopy walkway providing some great sightings this month. Not least of those was a Plum-Throated Cotinga (Cotinga maynana), which is a canopy species with wonderful iridescent turquoise plumage and due to its habitat in the high tree-tops previously unseen at Taricaya.
The caiman enclosure and pool are now almost completed and ready for when the young caiman appear towards the end of the dry season in July/August.
June will see us working hard at the New Farm, the transfer of Preciosa to her new enclosure and much more as the beaches start to appear in the main river and the turtle project begins its preparations.
Taricaya Research Centre
03rd June 2004