Monkey Manners

31st December 2018

Kochi meets dixie
Raj enjoys a reunion with Joyce

Peak holiday season now in Goa, which brings about many advantages to our monkey residents.

Lots of startlingly white people to be seen, even in our local market of Mapusa, this market is on the list of things to do in Goa, which is a big boost to the local stall holders, as many tourists do not know, not to just pay the asking price!

This annual increase in tourists brings about a corresponding increase in the variety of fruit and veg, arriving at the wholesale market. As well as the usual seasonal items, such as guava, pineapples and oranges, new and exciting imported items are flown in to satisfy the tourist palate, which of course eventually filters down to the monkeys food bowls. Celery, pak choy, calabrese, dragon fruits and even strawberries have now been on their menu recently. The increase in the wholesalers output, also means we often get more than we can use, and have come up with a new way to avoid making more waste for the dumps. We are now utilizing it as mulch for the coconut trees which are owned by the staff here, from the local village, and it is put around them as nutritious mulch, they are expecting a bumper crop soon!

Kochi meets dixie
Toys waiting to come to Goa, from supporter Ashley

Supporters of PTI and our work, also come to visit the monkeys at this time of year, and enjoy on the whole, interacting with them, also sometimes bringing the second hand sturdy British baby and toddler toys we always need. Dried fruits and nuts, luxury items for the monkeys, also come as gifts for them this way. One item recently donated was a bag of whiskers cat biscuits, these are too pricy here for me to buy, so they get a less luxurious version. However once they had tried these, for the next few feeds, nearly all the cats refused to even consider eating the cheaper substitute, unfortunately they now know, there is something better out there!

Kochi meets dixie
Volunteer Bella, with Ella!

Interactions with the monkeys are sometimes challenging, as although I always try and explain a monkeys thinking, and its natural and instinctive reactions, and so what to expect, this is not always understood and so imagined “bad” behaviors, still come as a shock to many, who are relating its reactions perhaps to that of a dog or cat, not a primate.

For instance, you cannot offer a monkey one item out of a bag, it will see and understand, the bag is the prize, and will snatch that first, and once seen, and probably taken, it will not respond well to “give that back” or any action to try and do so. The same with items in your pockets, loose sunglasses or hats, once successfully taken it is theirs, and you will not get it back until they have finished or become bored. To obey a NO from you, in any form, you would first have had to establish yourself as the troop leader. Without that, your wants are irrelevant to a monkey!

Monkeys, as primates, have finger nails, not claws; these are quite long and a little sharp, to aid them to hang on to trees and branches and another monkey’s fur. Human skin is smooth and slippery, and so difficult to grasp, but they are not “clawing” at you, just trying to get a grip on sweaty skin!

Another problem is pee, monkeys will do this anywhere, as they feel like it, so there is always a chance of getting wet during a meeting, not a direct insult, just a lack of human manners.

Kochi meets dixie

Despite this , the monkeys love to meet some new humans, enjoying showing off their skills, be it at diving or climbing, loving the resulting OOHS and AAHS this generates, and will gladly greet you as fellow monkey friend, but not one with any more status or importance to them, than any other monkey!

As well as the usual puppies and kittens, two more cat rescues this month, and with no homes on offer, two more Tree House cats.

Named Gypsy, this is the first cat ever to get into the PTI vehicle, and rescue herself. She had been dumped at the wholesale section from a car, and is about 7/8 months old. The traders reported her to me on my arrival, as she had been sitting where dumped for nearly 2 days, just calling endlessly. I had no problem finding her, and spoke to her nicely while locating the pet carrier to catch and transport her; however, with the van door open, she just jumped straight in and sat down!

Kochi meets dixie

With the second cat, now called Sophie, I heard a loud distress cat call, and spent a good while looking for the source, eventually by seeing some of the dog pack, suspiciously gathered at the foot of a palm, saw her trapped half way up a in a fork and dangling both sides, so unable to free herself. She had clearly been chased by the dogs and slipped on the smooth bark. Luckily I got help from some local boys to climb up and lift her up, and out, and they kept a firm hold, till I could get her safely in to the carrier, stressed, but seemingly physically unharmed.

They have both been spayed and vaccinated by WVS Hicks ITC, and are now being slowly introduced to the Tree House and its residents, before joining the 20 cats in residence already!

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