Koh Chang rescue

Trip Start Dec 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 12, 2008

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On 3rd September I accompanied Dr Yo, the wildlife centre's vet, and Tek, one of the centre's drivers, on a wildlife rescue in Koh Chang.  Here is my story as it appears on the WFFT website.

I have been a volunteer at the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre for 5 weeks, and on 3rd September 2008 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to accompany two members of the Wildlife Rescue Team on a rescue in Koh Chang, a small island near the border between Thailand and Cambodia.

The Wildlife Rescue Team travelled to Koh Chang to rescue a young female leopard cat named Leo, who had been kept as a pet.  Leo's owner had been unable to provide for her complex needs and had taken her to a local vet, Lisa from Koh Chang, for treatment.  Lisa helped the cat's owner to understand that she would be unable to keep Leo as a pet as she grew from a cute little kitten into a fully grown wild leopard cat.  Leo was immediately taken into Lisa's care, and the WFFT were called in. Once the WFFT had arranged to collect Leo from Koh Chang and bring her to a new life at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Petchaburi, it became apparent that there were more captive wild animals on Koh Chang in need of help. 

We visited a local temple where two macaques, one male and one female, were being kept on short chains.  The female was so obese that for a moment we wondered whether she could be pregnant, and when we saw her being fed a plate of leftovers from breakfast, the reason for her obesity soon became apparent.  The male macaque, Dollar, was behaving aggressively as people tried to pet him.  His owner had accompanied us to the temple in order to help and participate in  Dollar's rescue.  She seemed emotional to be losing a much-loved 'pet', but it was obvious that she understood that releasing Dollar into the care of the Wildlife Rescue Centre's staff, experts in caring for the needs of captive wild animals, was the best thing that she could ever do for him. 

Sadly, the monk who owns the female macaque did not feel the same way.  He seemed to understand and appreciate that the Wildlife Rescue Centre would provide his macaque with a large naturalistic enclosure, a proper diet and the company of other macaques.  Upon seeing photographs of the Wildlife Rescue Centre's huge macaque 'fields', full of natural vegetation as well as man-made environmental enrichment, he had commented that they were 'beautiful'.  But he just couldn't bear to part with his favourite pet.  We cannot legally remove somebody's pet without their permission, so despite repeated attempts to convince him to give up his macaque for the sake of her well-being, we were unable to rescue her on this visit.  The WFFT will continue to educate her owner, with the hope that one day she can join Dollar at the Wildlife Rescue Centre. 

Next we visited a lady who had two pet macaques, and had realised as they grew older and more aggressive, that they needed to be cared for in a more appropriate environment.  The macaques would spend most of their time in a small, dark, concrete enclosure containing nothing to keep them physically or mentally occupied.  The rest of their time was spent on chains in human company.  Their owner had tried hard to maintain their enclosure and enrich their environment with toys, but she had come to understand that they were in need of specialised care and seemed almost embarrassed to have been keeping them in such inadequate conditions for so long.  As I watched the older female macaque, Susi, reaching out of their enclosure to turn on a tap and allowing her young male companion Happy to drink before taking any water for herself, I realised just how hard I would have to work back at the Wildlife Rescue Centre to keep these active minds occupied! 

The team worked hard to keep the animals calm during the 7 hour journey back to the Wildlife Rescue Centre, stopping regularly to check on the animals and provide them with water.

Two weeks on, our new arrivals are settling in well.  Due to her young age Leo is being cared for by the veterinary team in the centre's Wildlife Hospital.  Dollar, Happy and Susi are in quarantine where they are healthy and active, with staff and volunteers working hard to provide them with the care they need.  I feel really privileged to have been involved with this rescue and will continue to support the WFFT however possible, so that the chance for a better life here at the Wildlife Rescue Centre can be offered to more of Thailand's many wild animals in need of help.
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abi1982 on

You really are a most eloquent writer Anne. Am sure the Born Free time must have helped but you do have a natural knack of being really descriptive with just enough feeling etc. To put it more simply, you are good with words my dear! Must have been great to go on that, if a little heartbreaking too. x

annek on

Re: Talented
Aww that's a lovely thing to say, thankyou so much x

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