Sloth tracking & a three-toed cheer for Ann & Houtje!

During the summer months, the nursery was in full swing with a handful of sloths under the age of one year. A new rehabilitation center will be especially important for these young animals to have a chance at life in the wild, as they need to develop essential survival skills in a natural environment. Rehabilitation can take much longer if animals do not have access to the most natural surroundings possible.

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Such was the case with one of our forest-bound friends, Ann.  After 3 years, we are finally releasing Ann, one of the last babies of the mega sloth rescue of 2012 (see Monique’s upcoming book, Slothified, for the complete story). For Ann and another rescue, Houtje, this is only a pre-release in a last patch of forest at Houttuyn Eco and Wellness Resort, located a short distance from the city of Paramaribo. It is an ideal location for a pre-release since it is privately owned land. Owners Marisol and Neville asked us to relocate the sloths before the land is cleared for the expansion of the eco-resort.  We took this opportunity to study both Ann and Houtje, a male three-toed sloth, in this patch of forest to see what they eat, how much they move, when they come down, and other behavior. This research marks the first time radio tracking has been conducted with mammals in Suriname.

The day of the pre-release Ann was outfitted in her radio tracker and had been waiting at the door from the moment Monique woke up. She was not satisfied with walking in the garden any longer and she clearly understood what had been promised to her, a patch of real forest (not that boring mango tree in the neighbor’s garden) and a good variety of leaves to eat from. Ann happily climbed into the kennel and upon arrival at Houttuyn she did not hesitate for one second.  She immediately started climbing up a liana tree carefully chosen for her. Only she grabbed onto a branch that was hanging next to the liana and when she was already at 12m and…it broke! She came crashing down and at 3 meters from the forest floor she grabbed a liana and broke her own fall. Completely unfazed she started climbing up again, now carefully staying on the liana originally picked for her.

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From that point forward she was out of sight, causing some worry among all of us at GHFS. The next day Romano, our resident sloth-tracker, could not find her and was not picking up a radio signal. Much to everyones relief, later that day he had a visual and saw her eating. He then again lost her.  Monique later went to the field and could hear the faint radio signal, but did not see her. Since yesterday we have had good visuals, and we see that she is maybe not yet completely used to living in the forest, but she is coping and eating, giving us confidence that she can be released in the contiguous forest in Saramacca that we had intended for her.

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Once observation is complete, a final release for Ann and Houtje is slated for early 2016. Keep your eye out for final release photos. Please be sure to keep in touch by subscribing for updates through our new and improved website and follow ‘Green Heritage Fund Suriname’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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