On February 8th 2002 Airuwe, an Amazonian manatee aged 3 years 8 months, was returned to the wild by the Omacha Foundation and the community of Puerto Nariño. Airuwe was released in the Tarapoto lake system in the Colombian Amazon, close to well-established manatee feeding areas. He was captured in a net near Puerto Nariño in mid 1998 and wounded by fishermen, then transferred to the Omacha Foundation. The Foundation fed, cared for and rehabilitated Airuwe with a view to reintroduction and he became the focus of a manatee conservation campaign in the region.
Airuwe was examined by Marcia Picanco, a Brazilian veterinarian, before release and found to be in good health. He was fitted with a belt-mounted transmitter donated by the Instituto Mamirauá (Brazil) and is being tracked by a team of local fishermen and former manatee hunters. During the first ten days after release he moved back and forth through channels in the flooded forest to nearby lakes, returning close to the release point. Freshly chewed aquatic grasses and plants were found near his main resting place.
We would like to thank all the people who have helped us with the difficult but satisfying task of bringing up and reintroducing an Amazonian manatee, in particular veterinarians Greg Bossart and Marcia Picanco, Miriam Marmontel of the Instituto Mamirauá, Jim Reid and Bob Bonde of the Sirenia Project, Salud Colpatria, the Columbus Zoo, Save the Manatee Club, Corpoamazonia (Leticia), Fauna and Flora International, the British Embassy Bogotá, Jim Valade, Antonio Mignucci, Ruby Montoya, Timothy Ross and Elizabeth Kendall. The rehabilitation and release of Airuwe would have been impossible without the collaboration of so many in the Puerto Nariño area, especially Gonzaga Muñoz, Luis Muñoz, Zoe Velosa, Alberto Lozada, Sara Bennet, Mauricio Laureano, Geronimo Laureano, Angel Peña, Casimiro Ahué, Misael Ahué, Demetrio Silva, Pedro Ahué, Lucio Ahuanari, Filandro Paima and all the other fishermen who supported us in this venture.
Airuwe is in good shape - that is, very round. He measures about 140cm and weighs nearly 60 kilos. He's in the pool alongside the field station, built with funding from Save the Manatee Club. A student has started her thesis on behaviour with him. He is being very slow to eat solid food - still takes very little in but spends a great deal of time munching the grasses.
There is another calf in Leticia now, a very small female at a half way holding station managed by the military. We are advising them on feeding, care etc.
Colombia is in dire financial straits so if you have any ideas on funding, they'd be gratefully received.
Many thanks -- if you would like to add that the manatee calf is
gaining weight adequately, and receives 4 to 5 bottle feeds a day, trying
to vary the person feeding so that he does not develop individual human
attachments which could impede his eventual return to a wild manatee group.
My name is Ruby Montoya. I am writing on behalf of The Omacha Foundation, a non-profit organization based on Colombia. The Omacha Foundation work on conservation, education and research of marine mammal in the Amazon. They have an emergency. The Foundation Omacha rescued two young Amazonian manatees.
The first animal was rescued in July 2. The Caribbean Stranding Network immediately sent a rehabilitation protocol. The animal is a male, with 107 cm of length and approximately 20 kg of weight. Currently the animal is improving, he is receiving 800 ml of milk preparation every day and he increased 2.5 pounds during the last week of July. The second animal was recently rescued on July 30th in the border with Peru, and it is in very bad condition. The animal looks malnourished and has "fungal-like" infections all over its body.
The Foundation Omacha does not have a pool or any rehabilitation equipment. They are taking care of the manatees in a small earthen pond. Foundation members need wets suits (even used or old ones) to properly care for the animals. They are running out of funds for milk and medicines to take care of the animals. Any help, medicines, money, or equipment donation (even if it is used and old) would be immensely appreciated.
You may contact Timothy, Omacha Foundation, in Bogota for further details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for your help in this matter,
Sincerely, Ruby Montoya