Heat and Humidity
20th May 2015
In May, with the approach of the annual monsoon, the temperatures during the day time are 40c / 104f, and even at night, 25c / 77f, added to this is humidity of around 77%, it becomes uncomfortable for both humans and animals. All but a few of our volunteers have returned to the U.K for their cooler spring and summer.
The monkeys and other resident animals also feel the oppressive heat, and look for ways to cool off. All the dogs sleep on the cool kitchen tiled floor and especially as I leave the ceiling fan on all night for them! The cats also clued up to this and now drape themselves all over the granite work tops to take advantage of the breeze All the macaque monkeys that can safely come out, get a dip in the pool daily, those too aggressive to take out still have their water storage tanks in the pen to swim in. When the rains start, these are emptied and turned on their side to give more protection from the rains. As much as they dislike the oppressive heat, like humans they also hate to sit out in the rain either.
One of the best and most skilful swimmers among the monkeys is Sasha. She was initially kept at a beach side restaurant so may have learned her skills in the sea. Some of our monkeys are content to just sit on the pool steps, partially submerged and cool off, but Sasha will always take full advantage to dive and swim underwater, and when we do have visitors as an audience for her, their ooohs and aaahs drive her to more tricks and antics!
The langurs as a species don't take to the water, unlike the Macaques who eat anything they can find, crabs and shellfish for example, as forest monkeys, living exclusively on leaves, fruit and flowers, they have not developed swimming as an activity , although they can swim in an emergency. They tend instead to do as little as possible during the day and just sit about in the shade.
All the monkeys' food has to be kept fresh and fridge space is at a premium. There greens get sprayed with the hose to keep them fresh. In the heat of the day all the monkeys tend to eat less and so we give a larger evening feed, when they are keener to eat, and it is not quickly dried out by the sun. Also added to the diet as a treat are ice cubes, flavoured with fruit juice, these are loved and welcomed by all the monkeys, not only to eat but to play with. Not surprisingly there is always a dire shortage of volunteers at this time of year, and over the monsoon. Few are willing to put up with the current climate, and I do warn anyone planning to come outside the holiday season of the expected weather. Although we could desperately do with the help, there is no point in them travelling to us, if they are not aware and willing, to cope with the climate.