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Waimak in the forest of BerlinWaimak, a yellow tailed woolly monkey who was in our care, died this week. We rescued Waimak four years ago after he was caught while passing through a coffee plantation near the village of Buenos Aires. To catch him the owner of the plantation brutally hit Waimak on the head, leaving him paralyzed on his right side. We took Waimak to the IKAMA Peru rescue centre in Moyobamba where he received extensive, excellent treatments for his injuries for the last four years. At IKAMA he lived with other rescued monkeys and explored the forests near the rescue centre. Although he never regained full function of his right leg, he did so well in the forest we hoped to reintroduce him. Also, Helene and Carlos of IKAMA Peru felt that Waimak was not happy in captivity and were starting to worry as showed increasing signs of depression.They asked our help to find him a new home in the forest where he would be safe from hunters as well as other males of his species. 

Waimak coming out of the release cage for the first time

The biologist Leyda Rimarachin offered a small forest patch her family owns near their Private Conservation Area ‘Berlin’. We immediately built him a big release cage in the forest and were hoping to release him a few days after his arrival. However, the trip was very hard for him and he showed signs of emotional and physical distress, so we waited an extra two weeks with the release. Even when he was free, he showed many problems in adapting to the new environment and required full time support and care. After a few days spent partially in the cage and in the trees, he seemed to just give up and his health quickly deteriorated. Although he got a 24 hours care from all in our group, he died three days later.

Waimak’s story is especially important to us. Firstly, he had an amazing personality, although he was caught in the wild when he was already a sub adult, he knew when people tried to help him and was always calm throughout his treatments. Secondly, he was one of our first rescued animals in Peru and we regularly use his story in education activities which have had a huge impact on people in the area. One effect of this has been a great reduction in hunting rates in the area. Thirdly, it shows that even with the best intentions and a huge effort, not all cruel and careless things done by people can be repaired and therefore much more effort must be put into prevention and education. 

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