It is rare that electrocuted howlers sustain only minor injuries. Thankfully, both Marta and Tamara were not seriously affected by unsafe power distribution. Both monkeys were released today, after only a few weeks of care. Marta was electrocuted in Santa Marta and Tamara was electrocuted in Tamarindo – both climbed onto uninsulated power lines, receiving a painful, but low voltage shock. Requiring only minor veterinary care and a few weeks of rest and rehabilitation, these monkeys were very lucky. Often electrocutions result in death, life-threatening injuries and long-term damage to internal organs.
Most of the howlers we rescue have been electrocuted. Installed with little regard to the safety of Costa Rican wildlife, uninsulated power distribution is all over the country; often with bare cable running through wildlife habitat and locations close to wildlife reserves, like Nosara.
Approximately half of the howlers are killed immediately, or due to their severe injuries must be euthanized. Of the howlers that receive extensive treatment and care at the Refuge, only 30% will survive. Severity of injuries is dependent on several factors including the type of current, the voltage, environmental conditions, the path the electricity took through the body and whether or not the monkey is thrown from the cables/transformer or it their muscles contracted and gripped the live electrical equipment. The most common injuries are severe electrical burns, loss of limbs and critical internal organ damage. The Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (MINAE – Environment Ministry) has listed the mantled howler monkey as an endangered species because of their susceptibility to electrocution.