Wildlife in Suriname
Sensitive forest inhabitants in danger
Welttierschutzgesellschaft (WTG) supports Suriname’s first and so far only wildlife protection centre for the rescue, care and release of wild animals.
More than 90 percent of Suriname is covered by untouched rainforest. But the apparent paradise for the South American country’s fauna is threatened. Due to increased deforestation the natural habitat of numerous wild animals is destroyed and increasingly often, wild animals are found disoriented and injured in the cities.
Whether we are talking about sloths, anteaters or armadillos, all of them are threatened by the deforestation of Suriname’s tropical rainforest. These animals can hardly stand a chance to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Furthermore, these changes cause numerous new dangers for them.
Sloths are a particularly salient example. They spend nearly their whole lives in trees. There, they sleep, eat, mate and give birth to their young. Because of their nutrient-poor diet, which almost entirely consists of leaves, their metabolism is particularly slow. As a result, the animals’ movements are extremely slow. While on trees, sloths are capable of defending themselves against raptors, feline predators, and other natural enemies using claw heaves, but they are powerless against the dangers humankind is bringing upon them. When the loggers arrive, they are incapable of fleeing. On the ground, sloths slowly drag themselves along with their long arms, which leaves them entirely unprotected.
Protecting the wildlife in Suriname
In Suriname, the number of animals in need increases. They are found disoriented or have been critically wounded due to road traffic accidents or accidents with electricity lines. Species-inappropriate keeping of wildlife is also an issue. Many people like to keep wild animals as pets and notice later that they cannot provide proper living conditions. Together with our partner organisation, Green Heritage Fund Suriname (GHFS), we are active on behalf of these animals.
The GHFS team regularly moves out to provide help for lost or injured animals and free them from bad keeping. Using a specifically equipped vehicle staff members rescue the animals from their unfortunate situation and bring them to the rescue centre where medical treatment and species-appropriate care is provided. As soon as their condition allows it they are released into safe forest grounds that are far from the nearest city and not at risk of deforestation.
Loss of habitat and climate change results in wildlife emergencies
Since the foundation of the GHFS in 2005, their staff members have rescued more than 800 animals. Whereas in 2018 on average they took in one to two animal per week, due to a long drought as well as increased deforestation of the forests along the coast and thus habitat loss, in 2019 that number increased sharply to an average of one animal per day – with the tendency to increase even more.
Provide information – raise awareness – shape the future
Raising awareness for ecological issues among locals is crucial if we want to be successful in the long term. Therefore, we support educational programs the conduction of educational measures. In the course of weekly guided tours of the centre, school visits and information events as well as by using flyers and posters, the GHFS’s staff provides information about the responsible use of natural resources and the direct impact on local wildlife. Additionally it is now possible to accompany animal releases back into the wild. Educating the public about the fact that wild animals belong in the outdoors and are not fit for a life as pets is another central aspect of their educational work.
Furthermore, the care of Suriname’s’ local wildlife requires distinct knowledge that is rarely talked about during veterinary training. Therefore, we support the training of local vets by offering workshops, which educate the attendees on how to handle the animals as well as how to care for, transport them and treat their illnesses.
Forming the future - together
To improve animal welfare long-term, it is necessary to make all of the relevant acting parties in the country aware of their role when it comes to protecting local wildlife. Through regular meetings and workshops with representatives from the government, tourism, hunting as well as conservation and animal welfare sector, problematic areas are examined, solution strategies discussed and how each individual sector could help protect wildlife debated.
Our long-term goal is to establish a statewide sloth ‘Action Plan’ in cooperation with the Nature Conservation Division, a division under the Department of Forest and Park Services, which would create a basic framework for successful animal welfare and conservation work. In regard to the main threats to sloth populations – dominantly there is habitat loss, but also increasingly the effects of climate change as well as the increasingly popular “Selfietourism” in which people take photos with wild animals – animal protection measures will be defined and created, that will form the basis of efficient animal welfare work.
Support us to help the wildlife in Suriname and raise awareness among the population.