WARNING! IMAGES MIGHT BE DISTURBING!
One of the most seen mammals of Costa Rica are the beautiful Howler Monkeys. A species of monkeys well known for their very loud howling sounds at early morning. Their howl belongs to the loudest of all land mammals in the world. Although these monkeys are fairly common throughout the whole country also there numbers are declining. One of the reasons is a painful, unnecessary human cause; electrocution by unshielded electricity cables.
While visiting Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica I was first hand witness of this cruelty. Due to tourism there is a need of lodging at the border of the National Park. Tourism provides the area with income, nothing too bad about that. But the lodges, situated at the borders of the National Park, of course are in need of electricity which is provided by electricity cables. Howler monkeys, just like many other animals don’t avoid the lodges and pass by this places. These species of monkeys don’t like to be on the ground too much so if they have the possibility they will pass through from tree to tree. But what happens when there are no trees available and there are electricity wires that can lead from one tree to another? Right the animals use the electricity cables as a bridge to avoid contact with the ground. With well shielded cables there aren’t big problems. The problem here is the cheaper unshielded cables. Electrons pass by through the copper wires in the center of the cables. Imagine that there is about 35.000 Volts of electricity passing through this cables. If you touch it while you don’t make contact with anything else nothing will happen. Though… when you touch something else at the same time, for example ground with no voltage or another unshielded cable with a different voltage you simply get electrocuted. This happens daily all around the world and this day in front of my eyes.
A beautiful adult male howler monkey wanted to pass by from one tree to another by using a electricity cable, while it was raining. The monkey jumped on the cable and started walking. Suddenly it decided to sit down on the cable below him. At that moment he was making contact with around 5 cables at the same time and got electrocuted instantly. The hands of the monkey got cramped by electricity around the cable. The only luck this guy had is that he died almost immediately. Because there were no materials available to remove the monkey it literally started cooking. Smoke started coming out of the hands of the monkey while it was drooling out of his mouth. Slowly a horrible smell of burned monkey surrounded the area and entered my nostrills.
While the monkey was attached to the cables the rest of the monkey troop noticed something was very wrong and all of them started howling, screaming towards him. Trying to attract his attention. Trying to tell him to get back in the tree. But the unfortunate monkey didn’t react. He just couldn't react it already was dead. The smell got worse and worse. And More and more panic, stress and fear started to get into his troop. The sound of howling made place for crying and eventualy they started crying out loud. I never won't forget the cry of the monkeys in where we could hear the pain of their loss. Down here you can find the caption of the crying howler monkeys, captured by one of my travel companions.
Unfortunately the story doesn't end here because then something I was afraid of happened. One of the other monkeys, a juvenile, went to its deceased troop mate. The youngster jumped on the cable but fortunately didn’t touched the dead monkey but looked at it while staying on one cable. It stayed on the cable for a while. But some moments later it also touched another cable and got a big shock. It didn’t get attached to the cable but fell with a loud smack on the forest floor. The young howler stayed paralized and shock on the floor. Looking bedazzled and only blinking with its eyes now and then. Fortunately after a minute of 5 it came back to its senses, stood up went to a tree and joined his troop. He probably survived. He was lucky, this time.
After about 45 minutes someone of the electricity company of Costa Rica (I.C.E.) came over and removed the monkey from the cable. A loud smacking sound combined with breaking bones reached my ears and made me shiver when the monkey landed on the forest floor. Loud howling and crying of the other howler monkeys reverberated through the jungle when this happened. Just like humans monkeys are able to mourn and cry and they also have emotions for sure. Situations like this will have impacts on the smitten troop. In similar situation researchers noted a 3 to 4 day mourning period while monkeys where crying and calling their mate. This particular monkey was removed from the area by the I.C.E. company but normally troops tend to stay close to their deceased companion for a couple of days.
Dramatic situations like this can easily be avoided by putting cables underneath the ground, which make the countryside even more attractive, and to make sure that cables like this are shielded. If cables can't be put under they always should be shielded. But hey, they always should be shielded because situations like this actually not only happens in Costa Rica but is an issue in many other countries all around the world. It for sure is an extra investment financially in, unfortunately, a money driven world. But on the other hand, it will save a lot of money put in rescuing and rehabilitating affected animals in thousands of rescue centers that could have been avoided by a right investment. Why do we still allow this kind of things to happen? Why do innocent animals still get hurt by this? Who does really care? Do you? Please, please share this to make sure the world see how animals suffer by unnecessary electrocution.
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