June 17, 2024

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Howler monkeys fall dead from trees in Mexico due to extreme heat wave

Howler monkeys fall dead from trees in Mexico due to extreme heat wave

MEXICO CITY (AP) — It’s very hot Mexico Howler monkeys fall dead from trees.

At least 138 of the medium-sized monkeys, known for their loud voices, have been found dead in the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco since May 16, according to the Usumacinta Biodiversity Conservation Group. Others were rescued by residents, including five who were taken to a local vet who tried to save them.

“They arrived in critical condition, suffering from dehydration and fever,” said Dr. Sergio Valenzuela. “They were limp like rags. It was heatstroke.”

While Mexico is brutal Heat wave It has been linked to the deaths of at least 26 people since March, and veterinarians and rescue workers say it has killed dozens and perhaps hundreds of howler monkeys. About a third of the country saw highs of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.

In the town of Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, dead monkeys began turning up on Friday, when a local volunteer fire and rescue squad showed up with five of the monkeys in the bed of a truck.

Howler monkeys sit in a cage at a veterinary clinic after being rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

Howler monkeys are usually very intimidating, they are muscular and some can reach 90 cm (3 feet) in length with tails of the same length. Some males weigh more than 13.5 kilograms (30 lb) and can live up to 20 years. It is equipped with a large jaw and a terrifying set of teeth and fangs. But mostly they are known for their lion-like roar, which belies their size.

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“They (volunteers) asked for help, asking me if I could check on some of the animals they had in their truck,” Valenzuela said Monday. “They said they didn’t have any money, and asked me if I could do it for free.”

The vet put ice on their weak little hands and feet, and hooked them up to an intravenous drip containing electrolytes.

So far, the monkeys seem to be improving. Once listless and easily handled, they were now in cages in Valenzuela’s office. “They’re recovering. They’re aggressive…they’re biting again,” he said, noting that’s a healthy sign for the usually hidden creatures.

Most of them are not so lucky. Wildlife biologist Gilberto Pozo counted about 138 animals dead or dying on the ground under the trees. The decline began around May 5 and peaked over the weekend.

“They were falling from the trees like apples,” Pozo said. “They were so dehydrated, they died within minutes.” Pozzo says that falling from dozens of yards (metres) after they are already weakened, causes additional damage that often kills the monkeys.

Pozo attributes the deaths to a “convergence” of factors, including high heat, drought, forest fires and logging that deprive the monkeys of water, shade and the fruit they eat, while noting that a pathogen, disease or other factor could not have done so yet. . It is excluded.

For people who live in the steamy, swampy, jungle-covered state of Tabasco, the howler monkey is a treasured, symbolic species. Locals say the monkeys tell them the time of day by howling at dawn and dusk.

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Pozo said locals — whom he knows through his work with the Usumacinta biodiversity conservation group — have tried to help the monkeys they see around their farms. But he points out that this may be a double-edged sword.

“They were falling from the trees, and people were moved and went to help the animals, giving them water and fruit,” Pozzo said. “They want to take care of them, especially the baby monkeys, and adopt them.”

“But no, the truth is that children are very sensitive, and they cannot be in a house with dogs or cats, because they have pathogens that can be fatal to howler monkeys,” he added, stressing the need to rehabilitate them. He was released into the wild.

Bozo’s group has set up special recovery stations for the monkeys – they currently include five monkeys, but birds and reptiles have also been affected – and is trying to organize a team of specialist veterinarians to give the primates the care they need.

Belatedly, the federal government acknowledged the problem on Monday, with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Saying he heard about it on social media. He congratulated Valenzuela for his efforts and said the government would seek to support the work.

A soldier removes the body of a howler monkey that died amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, May 21, 2024. Dozens of howler monkeys were found dead in the Gulf Coast state while others were rescued by residents who rushed them to a local veterinarian.  (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

A soldier removes the body of a howler monkey that died amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

Lopez Obrador acknowledged the heat problem, saying: “I’ve never felt so bad” — but he has a lot of humanitarian problems to deal with, too.

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By May 9, at least nine cities in Mexico had set record temperatures, with Ciudad Victoria in the border state of Tamaulipas recording a temperature of 47 °C (117 °F).

with Rainfall is below average across the country so far this year, Lakes and dams dry upAnd Water supplies are running out. Authorities had to truck water for everything from hospitals to firefighting teams. Low levels at hydroelectric dams contributed to power outages in some parts of the country.

And consumers are feeling the heat, too. On Monday, nationwide convenience store chain OXXO — the largest in the country — said it was limiting ice purchases to just two or three bags per customer in some locations.

“In the period of high temperatures, OXXO is taking measures to ensure product supplies to our customers,” parent company FEMSA said in a statement. “Restrictions on the sale of packaged ice seek to ensure that a greater number of customers are able to purchase this product.”

But for the apes, it is not a matter of comfort, but of life and death.

“This is a sentinel species,” Pozo said, referring to the canary effect in a coal mine, where a single species can say a lot about an ecosystem. “It tells us something about what’s happening with climate change.”

A howler monkey sits inside a cage with others at a veterinary clinic after being rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Dozens of howler monkeys were found dead in the Gulf Coast state while others were found dead. They were rescued by residents and taken to a local vet.  (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

A howler monkey sits inside a cage with others at a veterinary clinic after being rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolotilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

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