Partner spotlight: two days on the job with the Bali Animal Welfare Association
Janice Girardi of the IFAW- supported Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) has shared the following stories of their daily activities. The stories of recently rescued animals Pura and Hugo highlight the role of education in creating positive and sustainable impacts on animal and human communities.
“On one of our normal morning rounds, Adi and I saw a tiny, skinny puppy peeking out from a small hole in the ground. This hole led to a small underground tunnel under the road in front of a temple and elementary school in Pejeng.
Adi went three times a day to put food down for the puppy, placing it at the end of the small opening. Finally, on the third day we were able to coax the puppy out of the tunnel. He was emaciated and showed symptoms of distemper.
As we were feeding the puppy the local school children came out to watch us and I used the opportunity for a spontaneous education class. I spoke about caring for animals, and why we must protect them at all times. I stressed the importance of never throwing puppies away, and if they see someone doing that to please ask their parents to call BAWA instead. I also talked to them about rabies, how to avoid being bitten and what to do if ever bitten.”
The good news is that Pura tested negative for distemper, and is quickly recovering at the BAWA clinic.
BAWA’s intervention in the life of a puppy such as Pura can often lead to a second chance in a forever home, and rescuing animals provides the perfect opportunity to teach communities about responsible dog ownership.
However, not all lessons about responsibly caring for animals are about dogs and cats. Unfortunately, BAWA also deals with wild animals that people acquire as “pets”. In these cases BAWA steps in and educates people on why certain types of animals cannot be adequately cared for as companion animals.
“We were recently approached by a woman who had purchased a 'pet' from the local pet market. This pet was a slow loris. After purchasing it and taking it home she had second thoughts about her decision and thought the animal should be returned to the wild and asked us for help. Our staff retrieved the loris (later named Hugo) and educated the family about the issues surrounding pet markets and endangered species like the slow loris.
The slow loris is a solitary, nocturnal animal and is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as vulnerable and endangered. The primate has been in sharp decline as a result of wide scale destruction of forest habitats and an increasing demand for exotic animals as pets. Their cute looks have popularized them as pets and they are openly sold throughout pet markets in Bali and throughout South East Asia.
Looks can be deceiving though. The slow loris is the only primate in the world to have a toxic bite. They secrete a toxin from a gland on the sides of their elbows. When threatened they will lick the gland to take the toxin into their mouth, they then mix it with their saliva. They will then pass the toxin on through bites, or they will lick their own fur or that of their young to deter predators. Slow loris toxin can cause death through anaphylactic shock. Wildlife traders will pull the teeth of the loris to prevent bites from their razor sharp teeth. Many loris die from the intense trauma and the infections that follow the removal of their teeth. Hugo's teeth had been pulled out.
We have relocated Hugo, and he is being rehabilitated in a sanctuary for endangered creatures. It is unlikely Hugo will be able to be released, as his teeth had been pulled and will be unable to live a normal life in the wild. Fortunately, Hugo will now receive the proper and unique care he requires.”
By turning the unfortunate situations of Pura and Hugo into teachable moments, BAWA spreads concepts of humane care for and consideration of animals in communities. Educating people about humane care and management of animals includes basic care, but also distinguishing between animals that can be appropriately and adequately kept as pets and those that never should.