The Tungurahua volcano, near the resort of Baños, about 35 kilometres from the land of Fundacion Fauna de la Amazonia, has been active since 1999, with periodic eruptions. There has been a significant amount of volcanic activity in 2012 and on the 14th December volcanic activity started again. Ash has reached 3km in altitude! When Tungurahua erupts some of the ash nearly always lands on the surfaces on the land. Ash tea and sandwiches anyone?
The Ecuadorean authorities continue to restrict access to the volcano and an orange alert for the immediate surroundings was issued. Fortunately, the land is relatively far enough away from Tungurahua for us all to feel ‘safe’!
The other big story just now is about our ‘mula rescue’ (a ‘mula’ is a mule in Castillian Spanish).
The aim of the Fundacion Fauna de la Amazonia in Ecuador is to conserve and also to rescue, rehabilitate and eventually release endangered species of animals (and plants!) – especially those on the ‘red list’ (the internationally recognised list of critically endangered species).
However, at the moment, we are developing the infra-structure for our new Wildlife Conservation Centre and so do not have rescued animals on the land – except those that it is possible to release immediately.
Some time ago, we were travelling back to the land after a break to buy some provisions and to spend some time in the local town of Puyo. On the way, we came across an injured mula, seemingly deserted, by the side of the rough road we travel. We stopped to investigate and what we found was indeed an injured, maltreated and malnourished animal – one which its owner (he appeared shortly after we stopped) had more-or-less left there to die! The animal had been forced to carry and drag heavy loads for many years, and was literally ‘on its last legs’. After lengthy discussions, the owner finally agreed to let us take the mula to our land to see if we could assist it back to health.
Although it could hardly walk, the only way for us to be able to take the mula to the land was for it to be taken on foot. So Glen offered to walk it to the land which became a rather lengthy undertaking!
Once on the land though, the animal found itself in mula nirvana – it would never again be expected to carry loads and found itself surrounded by six to ten foot high grass (some of the land was used for ‘pasto’ previously ie fodder for cattle). Our very good friend Louisa, the veterinarian from Merazonia Rescue Centre, came over a few days later with some colleagues in order to give the animal an intensive health check. What she found was an undernourished animal with some very serious injuries as a result of neglect – most of its hooves were completely deformed as it had been made to walk and toil on uneven ground without adequate shoeing, and it also had some deep wounds caused by severe chafing from carrying heavy loads in wooden ‘saddle-boxes’!
Over a period of weeks, it was possible to pare some of the deformities from three of the hooves, although the fourth was more-or- less untreatable. Louisa also left us with some antibiotics and other remedial creams to assist heal the deep wounds it had on its sides and also one that was found on one its forelegs.
For a few months, the mule adapted to being on the land – it did have to be restrained from roaming too far for its own safety, and also to prevent it from standing on and possibly eating any of the newly planted and self-seeded trees and other plants which are beginning to reforest the land! It enjoyed the company of the folk on the land and occasionally broke out of its restraints to join them for lunch!
However, very sadly for all concerned, its injuries proved to be too severe to recover from and it was continuing to suffer a great deal of continuous pain and discomfort and after much heart-searching it was decided that it should be dispatched. This was carried out as painlessly and quickly as possible. So, although it was not possible for the mule to have a hugely lengthy retirement, at least it was able, as best possible, to enjoy its last few months in relative comfort and ease.
And so onward……………..