Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thank You Jonathan!

After 4 long, hot months, Jonathan's time in Gabon has come to an end. This week he returned home to Puerto Rico to continue his Masters degree studies and his work with Antillean manatees. Jonathan achieved great success with Victor and his Gabonese caregivers during his second round of work there. We are thrilled to report that as of 2 weeks ago Victor has now been completely weaned from the bottle and is eating a diet of 100% plants! This is amazing work in only 4 months and although we expect Victor to lose a bit of weight during this transition, he's healthy and on track to be released in a few months. His Gabonese team now has the skills to continue feeding the plant species Victor eats, monitoring what he eats, and conducting periodic health assessments.

This photo shows Jonathan collecting the last blood samples before he left Gabon. This is the first time anyone has been able to collect and analyze baseline blood values for a West African manatee calf over time. This data, as well as other samples we are collecting, are giving us the first understanding of the growth and health parameters of this species. All photos below are courtesy of Jonathan Perez-Rivera.
Brice, one of Victor's Gabonese caretakers, has been working with Victor since the day he was rescued 2 years ago. He and the rest of the Gabonese team will now oversee all Victor's daily needs until he is released back to the wild this coming winter.
Victor munching plants at the edge of his enclosure. The team records not only which species of plants Victor eats, but which parts of the plant (leaves, roots, stems, etc.)

So Thank You for all your hard work Jonathan!!

2 comments:

thirdworld said...

Quite the achievement and Victor looks in great shape. Will little Victor be safe once reintroduced into the wild?

Lucy said...

Thank You! We will certainly do our best to ensure that he is safe and can join other wild manatees to learn from (this is critical for orphans). We plan to move him to a lagoon where there is a large year-round manatee population, very few people, almost no hunting for the past 5 years, and a strong national park patrol presence. This lagoon has one of the least disturbed manatee populations in all of Africa. Before his release we also plan to do an educational outreach campaign to let people know about Victor and the importance of protecting manatees.