hazel in Peru
Trip report for Amazon CARES, Iquitos, Peru: 16th October- 6th November
I arrived in Iquitos on Saturday at about 10am, however, having been travelling for about 18 hours, I really couldn'thave told you what day it was, let alone what time of day. I was met at the airport with typical enthusiasm by Amazon CARES founder Molly, who can perhaps, be summed up by one of the first things she said to me: "I'm sorry, I accidentally cleaned my teeth with sun cream this morning, so my mouth feels a bit......funny
Having met up with a couple more volunteers, we set off to the clinic in Calle Pevas in Iquitos' universal mode of transport - the mototaxi. A sort of Ben Hur with motorbikes instead of horses, with a free foot massage thrown in.
At the clinic we met with the local Amazon CARES team. They were extremely welcoming and throughout our stay were invariably helpful and cheerful. They never appeared hurried or flustered, but the jobs just got done with speed and efficiency. Behtjane did have, occasionally, to give one or other of us 'the sack' as we struggled to cut and fold guaze correctly for swabs or shave an op. site with the razor.
On Sunday we went, with the addition of two more volunteers who had just arrived, to Pilpintuwasi, a butterfly farm and animal orphanage. This involved a boat ride across the Nanay river and then, as the rivers are so low at the moment, a long, rather hot, walk. There were many species of butterfly, some very spectacular, and it was interesting to see their catterpillars and chrysalis as well. We were also introduced, among other things to several specie of monkey, a tapir, a giant anteater that came and drank a bowl of milk, and a jaguar. However, I think the most endearing were the two baby sloths in the arms of one of the volunteers at the centre.
Whilst in Iquitos accomodation was provided at Cabo Lopez. This jungle shelter soon felt like home for us, and despite the constant cacophany of cicadas, frogs, early morning warbling of wild birds, crowing of cockerels, barking of dogs and occasional screams as Molly chanced upon an insect, had a very peaceful atmosphere. Mention also has to be made of the 8 3/4 if not 7/8 pregnant Marlene - not only did she have delicious meals waiting for us when we came back in the evening, she was responsible for coaxing our appetites back after our stomach troubles in Caballo Cocha. Staying there also ment a daily boat trip into Iquitos. Not for us the daily grind of red traffic lights and school-run-mums clogging the roads, but a wonderful whizz along the Amazon. Canoes and debris were expertly negociated by our driver Vladi, or not so expertly, as we all had a go at piloting the boat.
The first week we concentrated our efforts above the meat market of Belen. The whole market was an experience in itself; ramshackle stalls lined both sides of the road selling a vast array of 'things', including clothes, shoes, fruit, fish and meat - I think I caught sight of alligator legs complete with feet still attached. On the first morning we were dismayed at the large queue of people, dogs and cats all the way up the stairs and spilling well into the area we were setting up in. Our initial dismay at the numbers, thinking they were all for operations, was allayed as we divided them into those for neutering and those just for parasite treatment. Annie (WVS and Amazon CARES veteran vet) and I weighed in on the 'parasitos' - an injection, dose depending on condition and age, of ivomec, and an oral wormer (parentel), whilst the rest of the team started neutering. Dogs were sedated with xylazine and atropine, which rendered them pliable enough to give i/v propofol and then intubate.
Cats were given a triple sedation which ment they were unconscious long enough for neutering. Gaseous anaesthetic was then given using a system similar to that used in UK, except for one important point - up to four animals could be run off the one machine. So all four got the same concentration of isoflo, and the % given was generally dictated by the lightest animal. Those that were too deep were just taken off anaesthetic for a short while. All were given antibiotics, painrelief and antiparasite treatment. Timing for administration of the oral wormer had to be judged very carefully, so the dog was able to swallow, but not so awake it would bite you. All this was accompanied by the clumping and rattling of vultures on the tin roof above, hoping for scraps from the meat market below, and occasional forays, to see what was going on, by the pigs housed in the room behind us. I was amazed at the interest in what we were doing shown by the locals, both here and in the other areas we operated. Owners stayed to watch their animals being neutred and even took pictures of this event.".
Oh, nearly forgot! On the second day we were joined by Luke and the film crew and introductions were made. The next day we redid the introductions to camera, pretending, of course, that we had not just said 'hello' already. They then went out to catch dogs which Luke then treated to camera.
A very early start and a boring seven hour boat trip found us in the town of Caballo Cocha ( minus Annie who had been pursuaded to stay behind with Luke and the film crew). We had clinics in two areas here. The first four days were spent doing clinics in the science lab of a local college, where operating conditions were good, apart from the number of locals watching and getting in the way, and the groups of small childeren being escorted round. The second area was not really suitable for surgery - a shed with cracked earth flooring, and inadequate lighting provived by two anaemic light bulbs. The highlight of this day was watching a small child trying to get a recalcitrant pig out of its mud wallow. Our numbers were slightly diminished on some days as one by one we went down with diarrhoea and some with vomiting as well.
On Sunday we elected for a day off and took a couple of boats and a guide to find river dolphins, and we weren't disappointed. Pods of up to eleven performed wonderfully, cavorting about and leaping clear of the water, accompanied by much 'oohing' and 'aahhing' from us. We then had a very interesting, although extremely hot walk through the jungle. The whole of a small village turned out to witness the bizarre spectacle of a bunch gringos lounging about in their local river. The wildlife was fairly elusive, but we did see some colouful birds including a couple of scarlet macaws, and many butterflies. I was fascinated by a large and bright red beatle, but could not study it as I was just negotiating a precarious log bridge across a very muddy stream.
As well as the sterilization and parasite programme carried out by the vets, Bruno was also busy in the schools giving educational talks. This culminated in a large parade of children with plackards exhorting people to be kind to animals, and to leave the wildlife in the wild. Some of the children even dressed as animals. At the end of our stay we attended a prize-giving ceremony ( It was in Spanish, so I don't know what the prizes were for!), Esther gave a report of what we had achieved, and the mayor thanked us for what we had done.
For the third week we were back in iquitos. A pleasant two days were spent operating outside in the shade beside the house of an Amazon CARES client. Then as our numbers began to dwindle as people set off home or for further travel, we spent our last working day catching and treating cats and dogs for parasites in Bella Vista market. Unfortunately the most timid/wily dogs were those in worst condition. Perhaps there is a correlation. Having treated them we tied a ribbon around their necks so that next week, hopefully, Amazon CARES staff could see which ones had been treated.
By Friday, only three vet nurses remained, so we opted for a day off and in the morning went off to Monkey Island. We discovered, as we sat hot and cramped, that, in true Peruvian style, the boats do not run to any timetable - they go only when thay are stuffed full to the gunnels with people and packages. Monkey Island, a rescue centre for orphaned primates, was delightful and we all enjoyed being used as climbing frames by several inquisative young monkeys. In the afternoon, having waved goodbye to another team member, the two of us remaining set off for a rescue centre for manatees out beyond the airport. This was an amazing experience. First, to get to touch and feed the baby manatees with bottles of milk, and then to don wetsuits and wade about with them.
This was, for me a very worthwhile trip. Although our campaign of neutering was only a drop in the ocean, it was part of an on-going project that has already made a big difference, not only for the animals, but in educating the Peruvian people. However, the work was, only part of the experience and it was great to work as part of such a wonderful team. There was plenty of team spirit and laughs along the way, even when half the team had to keep rushing to the toilet. Praise must also go to the Amazon CARES staff. Alot could be learnt from them by English practices; they were an amazing and professional team.
There are many ways you can help us
See if you can help us by clicking here - Can You Help Us . From hands on volunteering to clicking at home we need all sorts of help and all sorts of people to join our small and crazy team.
why we do it
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance on the beach, and so he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean READ MORE
This page has been proof read by Sandra
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long term goals
Our long term goal is to set up an exciting Education Centre for school and groups ·with a fully equipped 24 hours wildlife hospital with full time vets and ambulances. Anyone able to help with this progress this in relation to land and finance should contact Anne for more detail on. [email protected]
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How we started
Whilst out walking with my dog in the early 1980's I found a small hedgehog stuck in a fence. He was too fat to go through and his prickles wouldn't let him go back.
He had been pushing so long in an attempt to free himself that the wire had cut into his body and his leg was bleeding where he had pushed and pushed against the ground. I had in my handbag a pair of pliers (no surprise to anyone who knows me) I cut the wire and removed the hedgehog READ MORE
give a hog a name
Each year we treat around 400 hedgehogs. Many of these come to us as tiny orphans. We care for these from an early age until they are ready to be released. They go through many changes and it is our job to try and encourage our spikey friend to forage and look after himself.
It is a lengthy process but well worth it, we see these tiny often spinless cuties grow into adult hedgehogs and take their place back in the wild where they belong.
Would your school like to name a hedgehog and care for him or her by sponsoring the tiny creature. At the end of the rehabilitation process with us we will release the hedgehog back into the wild.
We ask children at your school to think of a hedgehog name. They write the name on a piece of paper and put it into a hat. We ask that the children to donate £1 or some cat or dog food or old towel for each name. Once all the names are collected we will pick one out of the hat and the hedgehog is named. We will email the school with updates on their named hoglet and general information on hedgehogs. We will bring the hedgehog into school along with some of our others orphans to show the children. This year for the first time we will dedicate a web page to the chosen hedgehog and update you on it's progress on-line. We will feature pictures drawn by the children, poems and essays etc about wildlife. At the end of the orphans time with us we will release the hedgehog into the wild. If you are interested in this please contact [email protected]
We are run totally by volunteers. Our volunteers are dedicated and come from a wide range of backgrounds and all bring something special to our team.
We are always looking for more volunteers to carry out some of the roles below.
We are sorry but we cannot take anyone under the age of 18.