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Gili Island Rubbish collecting horses get the thumbs up!

indonesia june17 3Great news- Delphine Robb and Sarah Best who live and work on the island report that Bert, Oscar, Cream, Dennis, Yahyah, Rohit, Rainbow, Mamba and Andy are in good shape.

Delphine makes sure the rubbish horses are getting fed and looked after, and the results are showing.

Recently all the rubbish collecting horses had their hooves trimmed by volunteer farrier Christopher Beggs from Kelvin Grove Equine in Perth, WA. Bert received the royal treatment by having shoes fitted [ the poor fella has flat feet].

Only one horse has an abscess in his foot but this is being treated.

As you can see, all the horses are looking great and significantly better than 12 months ago.

Thanks to all our donors and supporters who have played a big part in improving the welfare and condition of these 9 horses - makes all our hard work worth it.

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Stopping the Monkey Performing Trade in Indonesia

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A tiny monkey performs at the polluted intersection of a busy road and moves onto a narrow lane to perform among dozens of mothers and children. It has a long chain around its neck which is being yanked constantly back and forth to force this baby macaque, which has endured excruciating sessions of training, to clench a grotesque dolls face mask between its teeth and perform on a small bicycle, with a guitar, praying on a prayer mat and even to stumble about on these tall stilts.

afj march17 2The cruelty of the training is unimaginable especially when you realize this baby has been taken from its mother way too young. 

Later when it becomes rebellious, its reward for all this hard work and torture is to be sold off, dumped or killed.

People see the cute monkey and children try to get close to it, not realizing the dangers of disease (Rabies, TB, Hepatitis) that could pass on to them and spread to the community at large. They don't realize the hours that the baby monkey was strung up by its neck and made to stand on tippy toes to train it to stand upright for long periods of time. 

They just laugh and throw some coins at the trainer and after 10 minutes of performing, the monkey gets put into a tiny wooden box on the back of the bicycle, and he moves on down the road to the next busy intersection or village lane. 

Animal Aid Abroad supports Animal Friends Jogjakarta to bring an end to the exploitation of these monkeys for entertainment and support their monkey rehabilitation program so rescued monkeys from the entertainment trade can be returned to their natural home. 

Please do not support these animal street entertainers when travelling overseas - they operate in a number of countries and the training and working life of these animals is extremely cruel - they need our voice and support.


Off the Streets & Back to the Forest

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June 6th was the beginning of the Islamic fasting month and it was a rainy month again. Monkeys in rehabilitation are still with AFJ waiting on funding and permits for their release. Focus this month was on the monkey rehabilitation with lots of enrichment and observations.

Monkey Behaviour/Health:
Enrichment continued throughout the month with bamboo stuffed with bush food plus lots of caterpillars from the seasonal plagues providing lots of extra protein and monkey fun. 

From example reports on the 4th and 10th of June, the monkeys are interacting well with different pairs grooming and playing with each other. Louise still avoids all forms of aggression or hyperactive behavior by isolating herself in a corner of another section of enclosure but she is becoming more interactive often mutual grooming with Poppy. She is also getting better at foraging for food and not as timid in taking food. Mario was allowing others to groom him and Oscar was showing sexual behavior towards two other females; all indications of continued cohesion as a group. (see photos and video)

Update on Monkey Street Performance (Topeng Monyet)  Investigation and Campaign:

This month was the fasting month for most of the Indonesian population so many volunteers left to return home to their families, which meant we had a new intake of staff. Thus, the education focus was on training new staff to feed, observe, and make enrichments for our rehabilitation monkeys.

Campaign and Investigation:
Focus on preparing educational materials including puppet show, brochures and social media updates to get people to report any monkey performer sightings.

Reported Sightings:
Due to the Ramadan fasting month, there were no sightings reported this month.

afj jja16 1July:

Mid July saw the end of the fasting month which meant millions of students and workers and their families left Yogyakarta to go back to their hometowns for the annual holidays. So, it was a quiet month on the streets for Dancing Monkeys performers. New staff members were kept busy evwery night keeping the animals calm amid all the fireworks and crackers being let off all month. Monkeys were very unsettled as fireworks were being let of nightly on both sides of the river making them very stressed. The sooner they are back in the forest, the better.

Monkey Behaviour/Health:  
Monkeys continued to progress now spending most of their time off the ground, which is a requisite for their safety on release. With new workers and volunteers on the scene, enrichment was a focus this month to ensure the monkeys are getting plenty of foraging practice.

Update on Monkey Street Performance (Topeng Monyet)  Investigation and Campaign:

22 – 29 July, Net TV sent a film production crew to AFJ to create a documentary on AFJ that will be aired in September. Though the focus is on domestic animals, we will also mention the Stop Dancing Monkey Performance Campaign and our Of the Streets and Back to the Forest Monkey Rehabilitation Program.

30 July, Tattoo Istimewa Festival was held - a government sponsored tattoo charity event and one female tattoo artist ‘Lois’, held a stall to raise awareness about AFJ’s monkey program. She raised over Rp700.000 and also promoted our campaign to end performing monkeys in the region. 

Campaign and Investigation:
July also saw a new intake of volunteers for our three month training program attended a workshop to learn about AFJ programs including our monkey rehabilitation program and stop dancing monkey performance campaign.   The focus was on the need for data on monkey performances. They also learnt about how to document the performers and assist with investigations.

After the training, the new volunteers went to investigate a report of a monkey on a leash that was reported in June by a foreign student. Unfortunately the monkey was no longer there so the volunteers did not take any further action but plan to check again after the fasting month holidays end. They continued on to investigate the monkeys being sold at the local animal market. They were able to find take video evidence of several monkeys including some with injuries that did not appear to be treated. They also found out that the trader had got the monkeys from a breeder in Bali and he sold them with a price ranging from 450.000 for a seven month monkey to 650.000 for one with lighter coloured fur (see videos attached)  *Note for further investigation, to check whether the vet had been to see the monkeys injured and whether the seller had a permit to bring the monkeys from Bali, which is a rabies zone. 

Still no word from the government on our request to consult on the issue of monkey perfomers.

Reported Sightings: 
No sightings reported, contributable to the fasting month, national holidays and constant rain.

afj jja16 6August

After the annual holidays, the monkey performers began again and we had some sightings this month, though not many due to the rain. Education and fund raising to release our monkeys were the primary focus in August 

Monkey Behaviour/Health: 
Monkeys received lots of fresh bush food this month, with plenty of bugs due to the rain. All monkeys were in good condition. Despite staff training, we had one incident of a monkey getting loose after one of the new staff members forgot to close the lock on a door.  Luckily after placing food in the enclosure, Oscar soon went back in to eat and the disaster of him running away or getting into the dog section was averted. Of course the staff member felt terrible but it was a good lesson learnt. He won’t be forgetting to lock the cage again.

Update on Monkey Street Performance (Topeng Monyet)  Investigation and Campaign:

On the 2nd of August AFJ did a radio program on a local radio station called Children Love Animals with a focus on performing monkeys. We talked about why these performances are not good entertainment and described the cruelty associated with the practice. We also highlighted the disease threat to children and asked listeners to report any sightings to us to help in our advocacy to the government to stop the performers in Jogja.

Plans are underway for DEED (Drink Eat Empower Donate) with the new volunteer group intake having meetings to organize the event, with a focus on socializing the stop monkey performers campaign and raising money for the monkey release project.

A monkey brochure is being edited to hand out in areas where monkey performers often go.

The monkey puppet show equipment is still being made.

Campaign and Investigation: 
20/08/16 Sighting of wild monkey with chain around neck and wound where it was entering the flesh at the front of the neck. Sighting was at Tlogo Putri near Merapi Volcano National Park, by Australian tourists. Pictures taken and report sent to AFJ by Marcel and Alice Van der Harst. Plans are underway to release chain from monkey’s neck, contacting vets to find one that will help out and consulting with JAAN on best methods to capture this wild monkey.

24/08/16 A member of the public contacted AFJ and asked for help to treat and relocate a female monkey. There were two monkeys in small cage on the side of busy road. The male had attacked the female and she was suffering open wounds. After investigating, the person reporting the case found out that the owners had taken the monkeys as babies, from Merapi Volcano after the eruption. (We don’t know what happened to the parents if they were around or not). They were no longer interested in caring for them as they had gotten aggressive so they put them along the side of the road and just fed them only. 

The person reporting said she would look after the monkey but needed help to find a vet to help treat the wounds. On the 26th AFJ provided monkey handling equipment and located a local vet (Dr Aniq) to check the monkey with assistance from our monkey observation volunteer, Nomen. Nomen assisted the vet in putting the monkeys to sleep and separating them. The vet then treated the female monkey’s wounds, which required stitches, before moving her to another cage. The rescuer paid for the vet out of her own funds. 

The female monkey was then relocated to the rescuers home where she could care for it until it could be moved to a larger enclosure. As she had no experience with monkey care, AFJ assisted with dietary and handling advice. She will have to provide the monkey with a more suitable diet then slowly transition her to a natural bush food diet. AFJ also urged the rescuer to provide the monkey with a larger cage. She had placed the monkey in a cat cage at the time and would need to move it to a more suitable enclosure. Unfortunately AFJ cannot take the monkey at this stage. The monkey also needs to be tested for blood borne viruses and parasites and get treatment if found positive. When the present group has been released and the enclosure has been repaired we will look at relocating the monkey to AFJ for group socialization and rehabilitation until the following group release.

Reported Sightings: 
14/08/16, At 7am after coming home from the market on Jl Jogokaryan  (See Video file attached  VID-20160814-WA0001.mp4  Report by Anun)

17/08/16, 12:37 – Report received Nomen WA: IMG-20160817-WA0009.jpg (file attached)


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gili nov16 1In November, a group of 2 vets and 5 vet students travelled to the Gili Islands in Indonesia to conduct a free veterinary clinic for the working cart ponies on the islands. The 2 vets, Dr Kirsten Jackson from Dental Vet in Perth and Dr Paul Owens from Horse Vet Dentist in Melbourne and 5 veterinary students from Murdoch University, Tova Pinsky, Maria-Louisa Pots, Sarah Mclay, Caitlin Hutcheson and Laura McLeay all volunteered for a week of hard work to help the ponies!

During the week the group, along with Delphine Robbe from the Gili Eco Trust, Sarah Best from Trawangan Dive, Tori Taylor from Lutwala Dive/ Horses of Gili and many other volunteers treated 257 ponies on Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. During the clinics, ponies were wormed, given vitamins, wounds were treated, management was discussed with the owners and more padding and girth covers were given as needed- 400kg of donations were received for the clinics! The vets and vet students also worked hard treating the ponies for dental problems, doing 87 dentals in 5 days! We were also very lucky to be joined by Dr Lisa Stelzmayer, another veterinary dentist from Vienna and Dr Claudia Skinner, another vet from Australia for our day on Gili Meno! The students were pretty spoilt with 4 vets teaching 5 students!

gili nov16 2The most common injuries were lip lacerations from the home made ‘bits’ used by most of the drivers. There were also a lot of girth wounds and rub wounds, some heat stress and diarrhoea cases and lots of hoof problems. Unfortunately no farriers were available this trip but we are looking into getting a farrier over to train up someone locally to be the farrier for the island so they can make a living and improve the ponies’ welfare at the same time! Unfortunately a lame pony doesn’t last long on Gili so a hoof problem can often be a death sentence so hoof care is a very important welfare issue.

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It was a very busy and exhausting but rewarding week for all involved. It was heartbreaking at times, particularly with the rubbish ponies. These are the ponies that cart the rubbish around the island and are some of the hardest working ponies on the islands. During peak tourist season they cart around 20 tonnes of rubbish between 10-12 ponies from businesses to the huge pile of rubbish in the centre of the island. They work incredibly hard and the donations from Animal Aid Abroad for proper feed to help them maintain condition has made a huge difference, they were in much better condition than last year. Many people might remember ‘Oscar’, the rubbish pony from last year who was on death’s door- emaciated, horrific wounds and mentally broken, I didn’t know whether he would survive but we took him away and allowed him to recover and he blossomed given some time off in a grassy paddock. It was bittersweet seeing him again- fantastic that he is still around (although he had a very close call being sent off for meat- was literally at the abattoir in Lombok, it was only Delphine’s keen eye and a bit of luck with the timing that she noticed he was gone and managed to get him back!), but sad seeing him back at work in his tiny concrete stall.

gili nov16 3This year the rubbish ponies were in much better shape but there was still one pony in particular that broke our hearts. It was our last day and we went to say goodbye to the rubbish ponies before we left. There was a pony, underweight and with a nasty shoulder wound from where the harness was rubbing, standing with his head down in the back corner. When he heard us coming (we had some grass and were feeding them), he came over, but he didn’t even eat the grass, he just stood with his eyes closed, rested his muzzle on my arm and nuzzled my forearm, he just wanted a cuddle. It just broke me, that after everything he has been through and what has been done to him, that same harness being put on over that wound to rub it again, being pushed and whipped to work through the pain, not fed enough for the amount of work he has to do, he still comes over for a pat and a cuddle. Paul and I were both really affected and it was a very quiet (bike!) ride home. We decided to call him ‘Berharap’- Indonesian for hope (‘Bert’ for short) as hope was all we could do that he would be looked after and not sent off for meat. Delphine has taken him away for some respite so he is getting some time off and we are hoping to be able to come up with a long term solution for him.

Delphine is working very hard talking to the government about solar powered/ electric/ petrol if possible carts to collect the rubbish as the workload is just too much for the ponies and they really suffer as a result.

It was a great trip and was great exposure and a great learning experience for the students. Some much happier ponies in the short term and if we can keep pushing towards phasing out the ponies, in particular the rubbish ponies then hopefully we can have a lasting impact on the lives of future ponies as well.

Animal Aid Abroad will continue to support the working horses on the Gili Islands, especially the rubbish collecting ponies. Our commitment in 2017 is to increase funding for proper feed, provide more equipment eg.harnesses and raise funds for alternative forms of transport. Thank you to all our wonderful donors, supporters and volunteers like Kirsten, Paul plus Murdoch vet students - Tova, Maria-Louisa, Sarah Mclay, Caitlin and Laura.

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It is still high season on Gili Island and with that comes a lot more tourists. Great news for the tourist operators but not so, for the hardworking horses that are used to cart people, luggage and other materials around the island. Ponies are also used to dispose of the rubbish on the island and at the moment they are carting up to 20 tons of rubbish every single day in hot humid conditions. 

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The work is relentless and very difficult on these animals.

We are supporting these animals by providing high protein feed and supplements to help them cope with their daily grind.

Animal Aid Abroad has also just bought 7 extra harness sets to replace the nail ridden ones they are currently using. This was made possible from our recent campaign to raise $10,000 to help 5,000 animals in 60 days. These harness sets will be taken to the island next month and fitted. A further 3 will be bought before the next clinic early in the new year.


[Harness set recently bought for a Gili Island horse]

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