In the last few days, we’ve frequently said that “all” the Sanctuary residents survived the fire. That’s true in terms of humans, elephants, chickens, goats, cats, dogs, Alma the tapir, and Milo the sheep. Everyone that we feed and are responsible for survived. We know that those aren’t our only residents.
Wildfires can be devastating to wildlife. We must realistically acknowledge that not all the wildlife that call the sanctuary home survived the fires. We also know that many did. While 85% of our 2,800 acres burned, there were pockets throughout the land that remained untouched. The fire spared stretches along the creek beds, where it is more damp and lush. It moved around pockets of very tall palms and old-growth trees. Their extensive roots keep the soil moist enough that the fire moved around them. These areas provided “safe zones” for wildlife to go during the fire, and allowed many to survive.
It’s mango season here, and there are several incredible giant mango trees near the house (as seen in the video). Part of the reason the house didn’t burn is because all the ripe mangoes littering the ground provided moisture, as well as the tree’s vast root system. Two days after the fire, we awoke to find the mango tree covered in beautiful wild macaws, parrots, and parakeets. Sassy and Arya (two now-wild tapirs that graduated from our wildlife rehab and release program) have also shown up to eat mangoes from the yard. George (another “graduated” tapir) showed up at the house during the fire, seeking a safe place, which he found. He charmed quite a few firefighters (from a distance).
White-chested capuchins (a type of monkey) live in this region, and we see them regularly. Walking through an area that had burned, we saw a group of capuchins jumping from tree to tree and chatting away with each other. We looked throughout the area and didn’t see any that appeared injured or struggling. Near other areas of the creek beds, we have seen coatimundi and two of our slowest, lowest flying bird species (one that is similar to a partridge and the other similar to a whippoorwill.) During late-night feed, we also spotted two foxes by the pond and we have seen numerous deer during the day.
It’s the little moments, like last night, hearing the chorus of frogs for the first time since the last rains, that helps us sigh in relief and smile a little. It’s a balm for our souls to know that the sanctuary land provided protection for many wild animals and they too will be part of the recovery.