What To Do if You Find a Wild Animal in Distress
That Nosara has become famed for its wildlife is both a blessing and a curse. In truth, it has now become a rather sad irony that the very creatures the marketing materials publicize in order to promote visitor levels, are now under threat from an increasing amount of visitors. Consequently, although many animals become sick or injured through natural means, many of those animals, particularly Howler monkeys, continue to fall victim to power lines. Meanwhile, many animals who spend time on the ground, including pizotes, raccoons, and possums are killed or injured by increasing levels of road traffic.
As high season in Nosara comes closer the interactions between humans and animals become more frequent. Consequently, the number of injured animals that locals and visitors may encounter will increase. If you find an injured animal the following information lays out the correct steps in order to maximize its chance of survival. Before proceeding, Nosara.com would like to point out this article takes much of its information from an article published by Nosara Refuge for Wildlife. For the most part, this is the organization for anyone who finds an animal in distress to call. Their number is +506 8824 3323.
Naturally, immediate concern will likely be the first reaction of most people with little experience of wildlife. However, before any attempt is made to rescue a sick, orphaned or injured animal, it’s vital to clarify whether that animal is actually in need of help.
The first thing to do is spend some time observing the creature from a safe distance. If it shows no clear signs of injury then obviously that’s good. However, for solitary youngsters, the danger remains that it may have been orphaned or abandoned. If you encounter a baby howler monkey on the ground then you can pretty safely assume it’s been abandoned or orphaned, in which case, make a call to Refuge for Wildlife. For other young animals, try observing them for longer, or check on them throughout the day. If after observing them for some time, they still show signs of distress or abandonment, call Refuge for Wildlife.
Some mammals are left alone while their parents forage for food. Most often, they will return in due course. If they do not, the call Refuge for Wildlife.
Monkey electrocutions are by far one of the biggest killers of local wildlife. For many years Refuge for Wildlife and other animal protection organizations have strived to ensure the necessary steps are taken to minimize these incidents. Unfortunately, such incidents still occur. Often, those who find electrocuted monkeys may be at a loss for what to do.
Call Refuge for Wildlife on +506 8824 3323. They will ask you where you are, and for a brief description of the situation. They will then immediately come and attend to the situation.
Obvious as it may seem, never try to use a stick or any other object to knock or otherwise bring down a monkey being electrocuted on wires or power transformers. You could be the next casualty. Refuge for Wildlife has specialized equipment to deal with such a situation. Hard as it is to watch an animal in pain, this is what must be done.
Most dramas tend to attract onlookers. Nosara is no different. Try to keep the area free from pedestrians, dogs and motorized vehicles.
Monkeys hang out in troops, follow the same routes, and don’t understand electrocutions. Consequently, other monkeys may be headed toward the same wire or transformers, even after a member of their troop has been seriously injured. Shouting at them is usually sufficient to make them think twice. Other than that, one should never shout at a howler monkey as it may cause injury or distress.
Finding mother and infant howlers monkeys
If an electrocuted female is found on the ground with a live infant clinging to its back or stomach, never attempt to remove the baby, regardless of whether the mother appears dead, alive, or unconscious. All this does is hugely increase the stress involved in an already hugely traumatic experience. Regardless of the condition of both mother and infant, leave them together, keep them protected from traffic and dogs, keep a safe distance, and wait for Refuge for Wildlife to arrive on the scene.
If the mother is injured yet mobile, any attempt she makes at escape should be blocked. If she dies out of sight, the baby will incur the same fate. That said, it’s important once again to not make direct contact with either creature. Irrespective of their condition they can still lash out and deliver a nasty bite.
Similarly, if a baby attempts to run from a dead mother, block its path. Even if a younger baby finds its troop, not only will it lack the necessary sustenance from its mother’s milk, but it will be rejected, and likely killed by the alpha male. Do what you can to prevent it from fleeing, and call Refuge for Wildlife.
If you find a solitary infant monkey
If you find a distressed infant monkey alone on the ground, first and most importantly, leave it alone. Remember that some monkeys may look like babies, but are actually old enough to be on their own. Do not remove them from their habitat. Even if this is not the case, it must still be given time to reunite with its mother and troop, who are often overhead surveying the situation from the canopy. Babies sometimes fall from trees, and are often able to correct their situation on their own, or with help from their troop. Remaining with their mother and their troop is always the optimal outcome.
Unless absolutely necessary, and unless you like getting bitten, avoid at all costs the temptation to pick the monkey up. Never feed the monkey anything. The wrong type of food may cause serious harm or even death.
Other injured wildlife
Although howler monkeys make up the majority of wildlife emergencies, the local terrain is home to coatis, raccoons, opossums, owls, parrots, lizards, margays, ocelots, and many other creatures. For the most part the same rules apply as listed above for monkeys. Don’t touch it, keep yourself, traffic, and dogs at a safe distance and call Refuge for Wildlife.
The idea that all baby birds on the ground are in need of help is wrong. Often, first time flyers just took a crash landing, and need only a little practice to get them airborne. In all likelihood, their parents are close by checking on their progress. If a bird is located somewhere dangerous, then maybe move it somewhere safer nearby. Keep dogs and cats away from the bird.
If you find a bird with little to no feathers on the ground, the best course of action is to place it back in its nest. If the nest is nowhere to be seen then make one, a basket filled with leaves works well. Attach this to a nearby tree and hopefully the parents will find it in due course. If this doesn’t happen, call Refuge for Wildlife.
Birds who display clear signs of injury will need the help of Rescue for Wildlife. If a bird hits your window, yet does not bleed, give it ten minutes to shake off the shock. Once its headache has subsided it should fly off on its own. If not, call Refuge for wildlife.
NOTE: Much of the information in this article was sourced from an article written by Laura Wilkinson for the Refuge for Wildlife website. The original can be found here.