Stop This Monkey Business Right Now!

For the past five years, together with the International Primate Protection League and many other national and international partners, we have been fighting against the breeding and export of rhesus monkeys from Nepal to US research centres. It’s been a long and sometimes difficult campaign. However, since 2007 we are supported by different European groups. They organise demonstrations at Nepalese embassies, write letters, hold discussions with government officials, etc. In September 2008 the government informed us that rhesus monkeys will not be exported for biomedical research. However, this decision does not have a legal basis and we worry that American agencies will conduct biomedical research in Nepal. The campaign continues until the captured monkeys have been released.
In Nepal, rhesus monkeys either co-habitat with humans as revered temple monkeys or live a tribal life deep in the high mountain forest. They are an integral part of the land’s eco-system and culture and are worshipped by the Hindu population. However, commercial interests have led to the removal of monkeys from their natural environment. Instead of living a free life in temple compounds or in the jungle, some rhesus monkeys have been put behind bars. Here they undergo tests to benefit biomedical and possibly bio-terrorism research in the USA.

In 2003 Nepal allowed the breeding and export of rhesus monkeys for biomedical research. Two US primate centers, the Washington National Primate Research Center and South West National Primate Research Center, received a license through their Nepalese partners. As a coalition of national and international animal welfare organisations we firmly oppose this monkey business.

The government presently prepares a new Act which we expect will abolish the breeding of monkeys. We are however worried that in the future wildlife breeding will be reintroduced under stricter regulations.
Please join our fight against the misuse of Nepal’s precious primates!
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Schmiegel – A Tough Little Survivor

One of the first cats I saw in Nepal was a dead one. It was a beautiful mature white cat and it was lying by the side of a busy road in Thapathali. I walked over and asked a nearby guard what had happened.

“Someone killed it with a stone”, he said.

“But why?”I asked, shocked.

“It ran across the street and this guy was the first to pass,” the guard said.

That was how I learned that many Nepalese believe that someone will die when a cat (or rat, or mouse) crosses the road in front of their vehicle. The best solution is to simply wait by the side till someone else has passed the cursed ‘line’ (and send Death to someone else…). This happens all the time. I often travelled in busses that would suddenly halt by the side of the highway. “A rat just crossed,” the driver will explain, and the passengers patiently sit back in their seats until another vehicle has passed. However, impatient drivers simply kill the innocent animal to ‘undo’ the curse.

Since then I have a soft spot for Nepalese cats. There are not many though. Not only those crossing roads tend to be killed, but also black ones in general as they are associated with black magic. Unfortunately most Nepalese cats happen to be black….. Unwanted kittens, like puppies, are often thrown in the river, alive.

When a tiny kitten walked into our compound, Ganga, our didi, immediately warned me. She loves all animals and is always happy when I add a desperate case to my growing stray population.

We took the kitten in, dewormed it, fed it lactogen (surrogate milk) with a syringe, made it sleep in a tiny sleeping bag next to a hot water bottle, and soon it seemed to be doing well. The cat was adopted by Putali, my female dog, who recently got spayed. She is the one to lick the kitten, in order to make it pee and clean it up after dinner time. She also carries the kitten by its neck in her mouth, like moter cats do.

I called it Schmiegel, after the somewhat greedy creature in Lord of the Rings. Schmiegel wanted milk every 3, 4 hours! And when I didn’t wake up in time, Putali, her surrogate mum, made sure I did.

When I recently left for a 3-month break, Martin and Miriam, my animal loving Dutch friends, offered to take care of both Putali and Schmiegel. Only then we did some research on Schmiegel’s age. Looking at her development she was now 4 weeks, This meant that when she arrived at our house Schmiegel was only……around 10 days old! Such a tough little survivor!

Schmiegel is now at Miriam’s, who makes sure she is spoiled to bits. She now drinks from a baby bottle… that sure is progress!

We hope she will survive. Nepalese cats deserve lots of extra attention. And just for the record: a cat crossing a road means good luck. I’m talking from experience here.

BB, a beauty in the making

Sometimes dogs which we try to rehabilitate do not survive. It is always painful having to let go of dogs, especially when they’ve been fighting for their lives for a long time. This year I lost two puppies due to Parvo (another survived – the first ever to survive of Parvo in my care!). Especially the death of Billy (see photo) was traumatising.

My friends Martin and Miriam had go through the ordeal of losing their puppy Bruno to rabies. Annually some 200 people die due to rabies in Nepal. After Bruno’s death Martin and Miriam and all their close friends had to visit the hospital several times for Post Exposure Treatment.

When Martin send me a High Puppy Alert SMS I decided to act quickly. The puppy Martin had singled out was an almost hairless 4-month old female dog, lying listlessy by the side of a busy road. I took her to the Mobile Vet Clinic where she was quickly and effectively cleaned, covered in antifungal cream, injected with Ivermectin and dewormed.

An hour later the puppy slept peacefully on my balcony.I decided to call her Black Beauty, hoping that that is what she will be in the near future.

For the time being however BB stands for Badly Smelling Babe….