Wednesday, 30 October 2013

And so Goes Juancho, Farewell!

Juancho during the last time tourists paid him a visit

For those of you who never got a chance to meet him let me introduce Juancho.  Juancho is a male red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus).  Howler monkeys are  herbivores who live in troops with one predominant male, who does almost 100% the mating, a number of females and a few submissive males who do almost 0% of the mating.  A result of this mating structure is that the dominant male needs to have a strangle grip ( almost literally) on the submissive males to ensure that they don't overthrow him.   Aggression is not limited to the males as the females also on occasion express themselves through violence.   It is when the monkeys reach sexual maturity, around 3 years of age, that they begin to manifest this aggressive behavior.  It will first manifest itself as mock threats but there will reach a point that  they can become potentially dangerous. 

Which brings us back to Juancho. A resident of the Maikuchiga monkey sanctuary, Juancho was know to be a sucker for female affection. It was not uncommon to see him curled up quietly in the lap of a female visitor as he enjoyed her caresses.  Amid the madness sometimes created by some of the other more hyperactive residents of the sanctuary he seemed a relief for those who found the other monkey's play a bit too lively.  Always happy to be stretched out lazily in the sun it was not a little out of character when Juancho began to manifest aggressive displays, climbing into overhead trees and threateningly shaking limbs.  At the beginning however, these demonstrations were harmless and a great way for guests to see how a wild howler monkey might receive intruders into his domain.  Unfortunately these displays did not remain so benign. On a visit in August with a group of 6 Germans which included 3 young boys Juancho made it very clear that things had gone beyond just mock posturing.  Although it was fascinating to see him charge forward , hair standing on end , violent intent written across his face, it was concerning that he had become so territorial.  Even though the expert staff controlled the situation and were able calm him down to the point where the boys could share the same space safely, it had become very clear that he had reached that point in his life cycle where he would be ready to take the next step in the rehabilitation process.  So the decision was made to relocate Juancho and allow him to make his fortunes out in the forest. 


Juancho was by no means unprepared for his new lifestyle.  Monkeys at the sanctuary are not kept inclosed and are encouraged to foray alone into the surrounding forest.  On many occasions Juancho would spend days at a time out in the forest only to return with marks showing he had some less than favorable interactions with a wild howler mokey troop.  Over time it became evident that he was ready to take on his own survival without the aid of the sanctuary.  It was with mixed feelings that he was sent on his way.  On one hand the primary aim of the sanctuary is to rehabilitate animals to the point where they can be reintroduced into a wild environment and fend forthemselves.  On the other hand, as many guests have found, it is easy to connect to these animals.  Their expressions and behaviours are sometimes so human that it is easy to relate to them and create freindships.  Juancho will be missed but it is the hope that he will play a role in building up wild populations to the point where instead of seeing these animals in sanctuaries we will be able to enjoy seeing them with more ease in the wild. Goodbye Juancho and farewell!

If you are interested in supporting the work of the Maikuchiga Sanctuary you may do so by contacting the

Maikuchiga Sanctuary -

or Yoi EcoTours -

If you are interested in visiting the sanctuary you can find out more information on the tours we offer by visiting our website:

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Year Goes by and Things Continue to Grow

I just realized today that it has been a little over a year since my last blog post, but it has not been for a lack of things to report.  Totally the opposite, things have been so busy that I haven't gotten around to updating this neglected blog.  Thanks to the continually growing interest in the lodge we have been happily forced to build a second cabin.  Start to finish things definitely went a lot smoother this second time around.  Things went so smoothly in fact that by the time I remembered to start taking photos, as you can see above, the cabin had already taken on its basic shape. It didn't take long for the rest of the cabin to fill out.

The only element that was missing at this stage was the washroom.  Not everyone was so keen on having to go outdoors at night to reach the washrooms when they received a nocturnal nature call.  So out of consideration for all the boyfriends who have had to first investigate and then stand guard at 1am we decided to add this little feature to our new cabin.  Just like our other washrooms it does have a flush toilet and a normally functioning shower.

With the washroom done our second cabin was completed.  After so much time and effort invested in this project all I am very happy with the finished product, both inside,

and out.

Thanks again to all our guests who have made it possible for us to continue along this amazing journey.

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