walking with a sloth
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Rescue under Palmtrees
To support an Animal-Rescue Center, Linah Hein from Germany travelled to Central America. Here she assisted in the Costa Rican Animal-Rescue Center. Anyone interested can help – and that aid is needed badly. Costa Rica has a great faunal biodiversity, but many animals are endangered by unauthorised hunters.
Linah, you volunteered in an Animal-Rescue Station in Costa Rica. How does a usual day go by?
Linah: “My Alarm goes off around 7 a.m. First the volunteers have breakfast, then, at 8 a.m. the animals! We peel fruits and cut them into pieces and clean out empty bowls, while two of us clean the cages.”
So what is there to do after the animals are fed?
Linah: “Then, for example, we let the monkeys into the butterfly-garden, where they can frolic around for hours. They pick leaves and catch insects. And, of course, play with each other a lot.”
Do the volunteers join the playing sometimes?
Linah: “Usually not. Mainly we keep a close watch, so none of them is able to abscond. Furthermore it is important, that the animals do not get too accustomed to humans, since, later, back in the wild, they have to be able to get along on their own again. Additionally, one must not forget, that we are dealing with wild animals, rather than cuddly toys. But then there is something monkeys love to do with volunteers – to play with their hair.”
What other kinds of animals have been accommodated by the Rescue Station at the time you were there?
Linah: “In total there have been about 70 animals. Among them different species of monkeys like capuchins or howler monkeys, as well as sloths, a kinkaju, land- and seaturtles, many different birds, like macaws, falcons and owls. Also there has been a fawn, chickens and a great number of dogs. Any animal is welcome to the Rescue Station.”
How long do those animals stay, before being set free again?
Linah: “From one animal to another it is different. Some can get back into the wild again after one or two months. They are being checked by a veterinarian and if everything looks alright, they are being brought to a special compound, where they can disaccustom from humans. They will not be fed any more, but have to find food for themselves. If this works out, we set them free.”
Has there been a particularly beautiful moment for you?
Linah: “Oh yes! Once, four sea-turtles were being brought to the Rescue Station. The poachers, who caught them had been arrested by the police, that is how we happened to get hold of those animals. The turtles were in a very bad shape: injured and dried out. We stayed with them the whole night and dashed them with seawater, put bees wax on their wounds and gave them medicine. They recovered so well, that we could set them free the next day already. I will never forget that moment!”
Thank you, Linah, for that interesting interview.
Passion for animals
There are many volunteering-programs – The Animal-Rescue Center in Costa Rica is another one. What the volunteers on site achieve is huge though. For ten years now young people come to Costa Rica to help injured or orphaned animals before returning them to the wild.
One year has passed, but Linah Hein, who committed herself to this project after she finished school in 2013, still remembers every last bit of her time over there: “To me the Animal-Rescue Project was appealing from the second I heard about it. That way I could not only make a contribution to preservation of species, but at the same time get to know the jungle and its inhabitants in a unique way.”
Many species of monkeys, like howler monkeys, capuchins or spider monkeys count to the residents of the jungle. In Costa Rica especially monkeys are being misused frequently and trained to steal or smuggle drugs. Together with helpers of the Animal-Rescue Center, project founder Vanessa Lizano wants to fight this kind of crime through throwing light at it and, with her Rescue Station, giving injured or orphaned animals a second chance.
Not only monkeys, but also turtles are victims of crimes. The trade of their eggs is a profitable business.
In the rural regions of Costa Rica people do not have a lot of money, which is why the use the illegal trade to get away from their poverty. But then this must not be a justification to excruciate and kill animals.
There are seven species of sea-turtles left – they all are in danger of extinction. The danger emanates from humans only, who have been hunting them for centuries to get hold of their meat, eggs and shells. The trading of turtle-products is illegal though since 1979 – just like the catching and killing of the animals. Substantial fines and high black market prices hardly contain the trading. During her volunteering residence Linah Hein witnessed such a capturing. When Lizano got word of the beach police, that three poachers have been at it again the helpers did not hesitate: “Since the turtles definitely were injured and dried out, we had to act fast. We ran to the beach with all kinds of buckets and containers to get water. The animals were in a critical condition. Their fins were pierced and bound together so they could not move. Bottom up they were being laid out in the sun. Added to the wounds and dehydration were infections, like eye inflammations”, Linah Hein remembers. It was a tremendous act to nurse these turtles. Half the night a four men group stayed with them. “We rinsed them with water over and over again, cleaned and disinfected the wounds and closed them with bees wax. If we had not been able to stop the bleeding the turtles would have been an easy target for sharks,” Linah explains.
Next day already the time had come. The weakest turtles were given some last minerals and vitamins. A bit later, after Vanessa Lizano checked the state of the turtles, they were all let off into the wild again. “We brought them to the beach and watched those enormous creatures disappear into the open sea. It was a magnificent feeling to have saved the lives of these four turtles and to have given them back their fredom”, Linah says.
The Rescue Station, which will be enhanced by a veterinary hospital, is a heartfelt project of Lizano and her parents, who live in Costa Rica. The Lizano Family knows about the bad state of affairs of their region and about the countless crimes against many local wild animals. This is why the whole family passionately fights for the protection of these animals.
The Animal-Rescue Center works hand in hand with the government, who also brings them ill, injured or confiscated animals to be treated properly by the staff. The volunteers perform tasks with supervision. The Animal-Rescue Center is a project, to which volunteers are essential. This is why the volunteering program is an important cornerstone. Because more animals need more space, food and devotion. The project is financed by donations of money and stuff. More information at www.costaricaanimalrescuecenter.org
Walk with Babyhowlers
“We hung out sloths into trees to dry out their fur.” Student Linah Hein reports from her Animal-Rescue-Mission in Costa Rica. Last summer in Puerto Limón, located in the countries North-East, she has been working voluntarily for the Animal-Rescue-Center, a collecting-point for orphaned and / or abandoned animals of the surrounding jungle. Now, together with a group of fellow students from their University-workshop “Social Aspects of the Sustainability of Africa and Latin-America”, which is being offered at the Leuphana University as part of an complementary course of studies, the 20-year-old promotes voluntary work. Helpers coddle small howler monkeys, nurse turtles or free baby-sloths of parasite infestation.
Parasites can infest animals, which grow up without a mother. “To be made an orphan can, just as is has on humans, have physical and psychological impact on an animal.” Linah explains.
This can weaken the immune system of sloths. Possible consequence: Parasites plague them and cause rashes. “Once a day we gave those animals a scrubbing.” Linah continues. She was also looking after the howler monkeys: “They need loads of attention.” That is why the volunteers carried them around on their shoulders during the day. Feeding was scheduled twice a day, nocturnal animals like owls got food once on the afternoon. To the group of birds, living on this station also belong hawks, parrots and toucans. For Linah the “most impressive animal-experience' was the rescuing of a sea turtle. The volunteers found her on the beach, badly injured – poachers had approached her brutally: “They wanted the reptiles eggs.” Illegal trade a profitable business in the poor country.
Soon the station shall be upgraded to an animal-hospital, therefore helpers are needed. Linah recommends at least a two-week stay at the station, she herself has been there for five. She contacted the Lizano family, who run the Rescue-Center, via E-Mail: “Next day I knew when I could come.” She loved her stay, even though the accommodation was not exactly “German standard”. “You sleep in the jungle in dorms with up to 6 people”, but everything necessary is provided. There are bathrooms including a shower, mirrors and cold water, the catering usually consisted of rice and beans as well as coconuts, which can be picked of the palms on the beach.
“Someone who is not sure of what to do after school should seriously consider this.” Linah says. Fellow student Stefanie Krause adds: “We try to arouse interest in a stay in pupils magazines.” It is about development-teamwork. This is, what students of the University-workshop sceptically discuss. “Development aid has to be seen critically in some points, there are borders”, Stefanie says.
With their Animal-Rescue-Project they are already crossing the borders of their workshop.
They advertiseit widely, like at the Lunatic-Festival of the University. Today, Saturday, they sell waffles on the summer party in Rettmer, which starts at 2 o'clock. On Thursday, the 10th of July, they invite to a party in the Salon Hansen. From 11pm on it says “Give Our Monkeys Sugar”. Entrance fee is five Euro, the income will be donated to the Animal-Rescue-Center.