Sunday, 22 April 2007

Monkeys are part of a grander design

A small piece of red fur is offered for sale at the roadside. Where does he come from and where is he going?
Our photograph shows the tools of the pirate’s trade, shotguns and catapults. They scavenge the forest for young monkeys here in Venezuela. The mother carrying child is shot and the baby falls to the ground. Frequently the child is also killed but there is always another in the next tree. We have found baby monkeys that were barely alive and with horrible wounds on the forest floor. This note was inspired by a surfing session about Howler Monkeys. I came across a letter by a woman who had obtained a howler monkey. The substance of her complaint was that the monkey cried continuously. This lady has tried to put all kinds of interpretation on the loud crying and asks her readers if they have any suggestions on how to quieten it. He/she is not crying because he is hungry and probably at this stage he/she will not eat. He is not crying because of the new surroundings although because of our great relative size, he finds us quite threatening. Young howlers challenge their fears and hardly know cowardice. He is crying because he wants his mother. There is no going back. He cannot be returned to the wild because his mother is dead. He may cry almost continuously for two weeks. This can be more or less. With patience he will accept you and even bond to you. The crying will ultimately stop. The question remains, what reason did the woman have for selecting a howler monkey in the first place?
Even when very young the howler’s teeth are very sharp. He will bite first and ask questions later. He will always be a threat to women and young children. All monkeys bite and even when their teeth have been removed they can still inflict serious wounds. The older they become the more aggressive they are. They are just following the forest law which determines their survival in the wild.
We have a monkey here in our shelter whose canine teeth were removed as well as his testicles, by the loving owner. He is rejected by the females in the group and we have to give him extra care and support.
Purchasing an infant primate is always consumerism supporting an unscrupulous illegal trade.
Raised by humans, the baby monkeys never have the chance to develop as they should, so often they become psychologically maladjusted. They have little or no chance of leading life in accordance with their instincts as nature intended. The logic is flawed; they never become a safe companion. Howler monkeys are a poor choice of pet. They are part of a much grander design that includes humans but only as a element of their evolution. I wonder how many people realize that when they ‘adopt’ a howler that they are taking on a responsibility for at least twenty years.
Leave them where they belong and do not disturb them or their habitat.