Back in June Peace, a female mangabey from Callistus’ group, had her first ever infant, Pica. Pica, a beautiful baby girl, arrived just 2 weeks after the birth of Marvelous; a bouncing baby boy, born to Mercy. As Peace’s first infant, she was rather unsure how to look after Pica and seemed confused as to what her motherly duties involved. As the first few weeks passed, her mothering instincts began to develop and improved somewhat, but unfortunately, as we carefully observed the pair we could see that Peace was still not fulfilling some of the important jobs she needed to do.
Peace and Pica: at times her mothering instinct kicked in.
Peace easily lost interest in Pica, and so Pica spent a lot of her time riding around on the back of her older brother, Marley. These two got on famously and Marley was always there to lend a helping brotherly hand! She really enjoyed playing with him and he enjoyed playing with her, unless he wanted to play-fight with some of his older friends! When Marley was not around though and Peace wasn’t interested, we had the problem that, in this prolonged wet season we are experiencing here in Cross River State, Nigeria, there was no-one to shelter Pica from the elements. Being so small she felt the cold easily and when there was no-one to cuddle up to when she was wet, the staff at CERCOPAN began to worry. In addition to this we had noticed that Pica was not putting on weight like Marvelous, who was only 2 weeks older. As we continued to pay close attention to Peace and Pica’s relationship, and the nursing behaviour of the pair, we eventually came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to remove Pica from the group and hand-rear her until she was strong enough to return. It was a tough decision and always a last resort here at CERCOPAN.
Despite the vast experience CERCOPAN volunteers have in hand-rearing rescued, orphaned infant monkeys, Pica proved to be somewhat more difficult. Never before had we had the problem of the mother still being in the vicinity and in ear-shot of the infant. Pica refused to eat while she could hear her mother, and the two were continually trying to communicate with each other. Our best option was to take Pica to our volunteer living-quarters two doors down the road and here she became much more settled. Now she is a happy little monkey who loves lots of attention when she’s fed. She runs around the room where her travel box is being kept, climbing and jumping off the furniture. She is putting on plenty of weight and we are really happy with the progress she is making. We can’t wait for the time when we can reunite her with her mother, her brother and the other members of her group.
By Amy Baxter, Mangabey Research Coordinator, temporary Finance and Office Manager
Photographs by Sam Trull
Pica, after having rolled in either mud or food!