Max was rescued several years ago by the Wildlife Centre team, as a young orphan from a roadside seller. Finally, the time has come for him to take his first steps to freedom. He has been released into the forests at Nyika National Park where it is hoped that he will soon find his friends. Bon voyage, Max! Read the full update from Amanda Harwood below and scroll down to see the photos, from the early days of his rescue through to his release.
Max is as seven year old adult male blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis). For several months, he had been jumping out of his enclosure at LWC and wandering around the grounds. This was taken to be a sign that he was ready to emigrate from his natal troop to another troop, as is natural for adult male blue monkeys to do once or even many times throughout their lives. Blue monkeys come from only a few parts of Malawi, some in the south, some along the lakeshore, and Nyika National Park in the north. This was chosen as the best place to release him as it is 1) suitable habitat, 2) has other populations of conspecifics, and 3) is far from human habitation.
Max was transported up to Nyika National Park on 19 May 2017 and released on 20 May. After the long car journey he was kept overnight in his transport box to allow him to settle again before release. On 20 May, in the morning, he was driven to a patch of forest, where I had been told conspecifics have been seen before. This patch is 10 hectares in size, neighboring many other patches, with plenty of tall trees and a stream running through it. He was placed on the edge of the forest and left in his transport box for around 30 minutes so that he could look at his surroundings first.
He was then released. He ran straight up into the trees and after pausing to look around, climbed even higher into the tallest tree on the forest edge. There he spent some time taking in his new surroundings, before going into the forest patch to explore in there. Once inside he traveled from tree to tree and from the forest floor to the canopy. He was monitored for over an hour until it was decided to leave him on his own to acclimate to his new habitat.