Dry Season and Monkey Stalker: tales of a conservation volunteer

This post is literally pulled from my journal from my time volunteering at the La Senda Verde Animal Rescue Centre in Bolivia.

The dry season is well and truly upon us here in the Yungas region of Bolivia at La Sende Verde.

My stalker holding onto my leg. Credit: Morgan Pettersson
My stalker holding onto my leg. Credit: Morgan Pettersson

When I first arrived it was on the cusp of the change between the wet and dry seasons and it still rained at night and sometimes during the morning as well.

Yet suddenly overnight the rains have disappeared and a stifling heat has taken over.

It rises up each morning slowly until before you know it you are almost gasping for air it is so hot.

The heat has also brought out the insects that prefer the dry as opposed to the wet, most notably the spiders.

When I first arrived there were a few spiders but now they seem to be everywhere and every day they seem to be getting larger and larger.

We even found one in the bathroom two days ago that was bigger than my hand.

Yet there are also swarms of butterflies out in abundance these days and as I walk the dirt, stone road between the park and the volunteer house its common to get caught up in a swarm of butterflies of all different colours and sizes.

The mountains surrounding the valley that we are situated in have suddenly exploded in colour overnight with the usual shades of green interspersed with bright purple blooms.

I have been sick for the last three days and stuck in bed unfortunately and have really missed the animals, most notably the bears.

I went to check on them the last day I was working before falling ill in the afternoon, as we had a few volunteer leave and I was working across four different areas and had hardly any time to spend with the bears.

As I walked across the small wooden bridge to their enclosure I turned and looked back and saw Elvis the Squirrel Monkey and Pimineta, Spider Monkey and resident stalker at La Sende following me.

The stalkers
My stalker. Credit: Morgan Pettersson

Pimienta for some reason seems to always be in heat and I knew this was not a good sign that she had silently been following me as the week previous she had attached herself to my leg and refused to let go.

The monkeys will often come over the bear enclosure in search of food or mischief but I had a bad feeling about this.

I found Aruma sitting on his fence line hunched over eating a coconut and sat next to him watching him eat marvelling at how gently he was eating.

I kept hearing rustling noises in the trees and saw Elvis had come up next to me in a tree but Pimineta was no where to be seen.

Suddenly Aruma looked up and tossing aside his coconut strode over to a tree in his enclosure and rising up onto his hind legs started shaking it.

A hysterical cry of abuse made me look up and see Pimienta perched in the tree enraged that the bear was trying to shake her out.

After almost falling out she ran across the tree tops back to safe ground and then started stalking me as I moved on to check on Tipiniss.

Aruma taking action against his un wanted guest
Aruma trying to shake the monkey out of the tree. Credit: Morgan Pettersson

When a Spider Monkey is angry they will rise onto their hind legs and wave their arms in the air making angry sounds, and when I turned to find her blocking the pathway back doing this I knew I was in trouble.

The only option I had was to try and go down the river back to the bridge, but unfortunately she followed me and what occurred next was a cat and mouse game where I ended up dashing across the river getting my legs and shoes soaking wet with her bounding behind me as I started to get more concerned.

Eventually cornered I tried a new tactic and coaxed her over where she sat down next to me, and avoiding eye contact  (as this would only enrage her more) I took off again leaving her behind to run back across the river, past Arumas enclosure to the bridge where I could see her still sitting across the river.

Whilst there was nothing overly threatening about the way Pimienta was following me, and there were many laughs at dinner when I recounted my story, it was still slightly creepy.

I can now add to my travel tales the time that I was been chased by a monkey through a bear enclosure in the Bolivian jungle.


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