After a hard week’s work, Sunday is normally our day of rest, which has recently involved a morning by the pool followed by an afternoon of jazz at a local bar. But volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary often means that an emergency will pull one or two of us away…not that we are complaining, since that is what we are here for. Still, we do wonder how it is that we can easily go over a week without any vet work and then all the emergencies fall on a Sunday!
It was an early start alongside resident vet, Richard, and we spent the whole morning in the operating theatre. We started with the most urgent which was yellow baboon, Cherry, who had been left with a hole in the side of his face after a fight over position of top dog (which he lost). It was a rather complex job as it had to be stitched up without damage to the cheek pouch, but luckily Richard is a dab hand with a needle and thread.
Then we started on three vervet monkeys who had got into a scuffle with some nasty looking war wounds to show for it. The first two turned out to be superficial cuts which just needed a clean-up and some antibiotics to guard against infection, but the third, Tsotsi, had to go into theatre to have the tip of his tail amputated. He already had an old wound which was struggling to heal and had been ripped open in the fight, and in the end amputation was the only option to prevent the spread of infection. It was only 1 ½ inches that he lost in the end, so he’ll be swinging from the trees in no time.
Next, we had to tend to an injured duiker that had been found stuck in a fence the day before by a scout on the other side of the river. He was so weak that he hadn’t even tried to struggle so it is very lucky that we found him in time, surely just hours away from death. Richard had already stitched him up the day before but he needed some vitamins and antibiotics to help him regain his strength and keep any infection at bay.
Finally, an orphaned barn owl arrived who was rather weak and giddy, but luckily hasn’t needed anything beyond a good feed and rest so far. This is our third barn owl in as many weeks though, so the next big volunteer job is to start building some more aviaries…the work never stops!
By Toni Stansfield, volunteer