URGENT…Saving Manatees in Belize

Over the last three weeks, 2  injured manatee calves have been rescued from the waters of Belize. 

Wildtracks hosts Belize’s Manatee Rehabilitation Centre, providing care for orphaned and injured West Indian Manatees as part of the national initiative to ensure that this endangered species continues to live in Belize’s waters.

The two recently arrived orphaned calves bring the total number of manatees in care at the Manatee Rehabilitation Centre to five….a record number reflecting the increasing threats to the population.

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We URGENTLY need to upgrade the infrastructure to cope with the increasing numbers.

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With only three pools, and one lagoon enclosure (for larger juveniles), we urgently need to upgrade our infrastructure to cope with the additional calves – and there is no guarantee that we won’t get yet another calf tomorrow!

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It costs US$60 a day to provide milk for the five manatee orphans in care!

These slow, gentle animals, once mistaken for mermaids, can get through an alarming amount of milk before they are weaned – US$60 a day – US$420 a week – a total of US$1,680 a month for the five manatees in care at the moment. With the addition of two calves and the associated costs, we have a funding gap for the coming four weeks, and urgently need to find the US$1,680 to see us through.

How can you help?

We urgently need funds for…

1. Construction of an Additional Pool: Total US$3,200

    Overall pool size 19’6″ long x 9’6″ wide x 3’6″

Cost of materials (including plumbing) US$2,200

Cost of labour – US$1,000

2. Replacement pump and pipework for filling pools: US$1,120

3. One month of milk: US$1,680

What will this achieve?

This will address the immediate needs, and give us the capacity to be able to be effective in taking the manatee calves in our care successfully through to release….

Meet Lucky…Lucky came in yesterday, and is thought to be about 6 weeks old. His name was given to him by Jamal Galves (of the Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network), first responder to the seldom visited beach, who says that it is pure luck that this calf was found at all. Badly scratched and bruised, this small calf has problems staying even-keeled in the water, and needs physical support in the water as his condition stabilizes.

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Meet Mitch…Mitch was found two weeks ago, near the body of a dead manatee – presumed to be his mother. He sides were badly bruised, and his flippers had limited movement – unable to support him when he struggled to the surface to breathe. During the first four days, he required intensive care, with people in the water 24 hours a day. When unsupported, he would become frantic and panic. Over the last week. he has recovered significantly, and doesn’t require 24 hour care. He is showing all signs of being a healthy, stable manatee calf with a very healthy appetite.

 

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Meet Khaleesi... Khaleesi was discovered, less than a week old, being washed against the rocks at the water’s edge by strong waves. She is now a year old and doing well, though she was small when she came in, and is still small for her age.

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Meet Rhamases… Hit by a boat, he came in with deep propeller cuts and a collapsed lung – only able to swim on his side, and unable to dive. He is now fully recovered, swimming normally in the water, and able to stay underwater for four minutes or more at a time. Well on the way to release, he is now over 300lbs, with an insatiable appetite!

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Meet Duke… the oldest calf, is  now three years old (past weaning age), but is still being given a supplemental elemental milk formula to keep his weight up. He arrived in very poor condition, ribs clearly showing, and has struggled to put on weight. He is now filling out and is starting to look more like a healthy manatee…but he still has a long way to go.

Duke and Rhamases now live together – part of the time in the Lagoon Pool, and part in the largest of the concrete pools.

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What does the Manatee Rehabilitation Centre do? Wildtracks, in partnership with the Belize Forest Department, and in collaboration with the Belize Marine Mammal Working Group, is working to ensure that West Indian manatees continue to live in the clear, tropical waters of Belize. Belize has a manatee population estimated at only 1,000, but with an increasing number of boat-related manatee deaths, rescuing and returning  orphaned and injured manatees to the wild is becoming more common and more urgent.

When populations are so low, each orphaned calf matters.

Meet Twiggy…Twiggy is now released back in the wild….

….as are Woody, Tiny, and Buttons. All our released manatees are tracked to monitor their success in the post release phase.

A Word about Wildtracks

Wildtracks has been managing the Manatee Rehabilitation Centre in Belize for 15 years, with manatee calf rescues resulting in many cases in successful rehabilitation back into the wild populations, after an average of 3 to 3.5 years of care.

West Indian manatees have been identified as a globally threatened, and are protected in Belize by law. The sub species present in Belize, the Antillean Manatee, is considered Endangered – in danger of extinction. As boat traffic increases in key manatee areas, the incidence of manatee strandings is increasing, as is the resulting incidence of live calf abandonment, with five manatees in care at the moment.

Wildtracks was established in 1990, and registered as a Belize non-profit organization in 1996. It implements its activities through four Wildtracks Programmes. Work is conducted under three primary Programme Areas:

  •      Conservation and Research
  •      Education and Outreach
  •      Sustainable Development

The Manatee Rehabilitation Centre is one of two national wildlife rehabilitation facilities hosted by Wildtracks, under its Conservation and Research Programme. The Rehabilitation Centre is mandated by the Government of Belize, and managed under a Memorandum of Understanding.

How else can you get involved?

Share the link with your friends

Want to volunteer? Find out more on our webpage.

http://wildtracksbelize.org/support/volunteer/

Want to share in our adventures? Explore the Wildtracks blogs!

http://wildtracksbelize.org/rehab/blog/

HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN BY CLICK HERE http://www.indiegogo.com/

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