All the camping equipment and release enclosure framework and wire was loaded into the Sarteneja bus
At Cowpen, the kit was then loaded into the boat, with the help of the Fireburn Community, and carried across the lagoon...
It then had to be carried into the forest for more than 7km by tractor...
...a journey that continued into the night, with the tractor getting stuck in deep ruts on the track
The camp is set up...the Tracking Team are going to be here in rotation for up to a year to ensure the spider monkey release is a success.
...they have set up their kitchen and dining area.... cooking by solar lanterns and candlelight...
Fried jacks and plantains, as always, are on the menu!
The enclosure framework came together fast...
...followed by the wire
The release enclosure takes shape in the two week run-up to the spider monkey transfer
All members of the Team worked hard to ensure the enclosure was ready for the spider monkeys
...erecting the internal enclosure post-and-pole climbing frame and shelf for the monkeys
Last but not least, the final boards are put in place to prevent any wildlife from digging in
This includes the assistance of two primate specialists - the Twycross head vet, Mátyás Liptovszky and primate specialist carer Lainy Miller. They arrived on the 16th January, and spent the 17th conducting the health assessments on the five spider monkeys being released.
We have also been very fortunate to have the support of in-country vets - Isabelle Paquet-Durand of the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic in the darting of the spider monkeys for the health checks, and Jane Crawford and Philip De Shield of Belize's Animal Medical Centre assisting with the assessments and blood tests. - it was great to be working with such fantastic, dedicated people!
Isabelle Paquet-Durand, from the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, darted each monkey in preparation for the health checks.
Once under anaesthetic, each spider monkey was carried to the temporary vet clinic...and weighed
...the bag used to weigh them is symbolic of the contribution of this effort to achieving the outputs of Target C3 of Belize's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan - Belize shall let no species become functionally extinct.
This group of spider monkeys - Charlie the flirt, Duma, Mel with her 'smoosh' face, Mattie and Penny - are critically endangered, with increasing threats of forest clearance and from the illegal wildlife trade throughout their range.
This project also contributes towards Belize's efforts to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land (15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species).
The temporary vet clinic as health checks get underway...
Each monkey is fitted with a microchip above their shoulders for identification...
Dr. Philip de Shield and Dr. Jane Crawford, from the Animal Medical Centre in Belize City, also assisted - it was a great opportunity to be able to host them during the health checks, and will provide continuity once the spider monkey release is under way
After each health check was completed, the spider monkeys were monitored as they came round from the anaesthetic. Each sits in an individual kennel with cable ties keeping the doors closed - spider monkeys are the ultimate escape artists!
Eran Gissis, Lainy Miller, Mátyás Liptovszky, Vasco Jacke