Little Daphne

18th March, 2009


Little Daphne, our baby languor died on Sunday when she developed heart failure. She had been her normal chirpy self up to her collapse and simply became increasingly weak and floppy, finally losing consciousness. Despite the work of the vets her heart finally stopped in the afternoon. We are all devastated by the loss of our smiley little treasure. She enchanted everyone who met her and has left a hole in our lives out of all proportion to her size.

The vets are unable to pinpoint a definitive cause, but feel she must have been born with some sort of heart defect that only surfaced as she grew and became more active. Although her human carers are still stunned by her loss, Pixie luckily seems oblivious. There will undoubtedly be more rescued baby langurs in need of care in the future, but Daphne, with her sunny smile, will have a special place in our memory.

Earlier in the week we had to call out the vets many times to treat and run tests on the adult monkeys as some are suffering from what turns out to be an as yet unidentified viral infection ,causing diarrhoea and fever in four of them. Blood, urine and faeces samples had to be collected for testing, and those suffering given injections, medications and re-hydration fluids. Although they seem to recover from the worst symptoms in a few days, they have by then lost condition and are obviously weakened by the virus, so we need to find an effective treatment and cure.

Adult monkeys are notoriously difficult to treat with any medication. They are highly sensitive to strange or unknown tastes, this is to help them avoid eating toxic foods in the wild, but also means medicines hidden even in their favourite foods are almost always detected and rejected. To give injections is just as difficult as the monkey has to be kept in a small pen for the duration of the course, as after the first shot, it won't willingly come for a second. Separating one monkey, as proven with Pani, can have far reaching effects on its future with the troop so we cannot keep them apart for long.

As if this was not enough of a strain, the electricity company without notice, decided to cut off the power to our village and several others, from 6pm when it gets dark, to 2am daily. Living in India power cuts of an hour or so a day are pretty regular, but with the recent high temperatures in the 30s, having no ceiling fans, water, which is pumped from the well, let alone proper light while trying to care for the 2 baby langurs as well as treat and check the ailing adults has been a struggle. Visitors to the centre in Goa, often say how lucky we are to be here, with the wonderful beaches and sunny weather. It is several months since I have even seen the sea, and without a cooling fan or a cold shower, the hot weather is not a bonus either.

One nice thing this week was the first visit for several years to our garden by a great Indian hornbill These are rare and there are thought to be only 8 in Goa.It is almost the size of a pelican, with an enormous yellow bill and as it flew around the monkeys all went wild, screaming and ranting at it, they always do this to birds of prey that come too near as well.

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