Kenneth was badly attacked by an alpha male in March 2018 here in Playa Guiones. In the past few years, we have seen an increase in howler injuries caused by other howlers. Most attacks are caused by troops fighting for resources – whether it’s food, habitat or females.
An alpha might attack an infant for two reasons:
Like lions, when a new alpha males takes over a troop, he will kill all the infants from the previous alpha’s line. This way the females will be able to produce his children sooner.
Alphas will also attack any young juveniles who they feel might one day threaten their status. Males who are not submissive are chased out of the troop. Dominant males are violently attacked by the alpha.
Usually, an alpha attack involves extreme injuries to the face. Howlers use their very large teeth to bite the face of his opponent – the goal is to disable them by causing injuries to their eyes and nasal cavity. These kinds of injuries are gruesome, and in the wild, can kill their opponent.
Kenneth was lucky. Although his injuries were severe, he was not injured on his face. Unfortunately, his tail had to be amputated as it was snapped in half with bone and muscle exposed. His arm was ripped open, but our onsite veterinarian Dr. Francisco Sánchez Murillo was able to expertly suture the arm and close the wound. Kenneth healed fast, but unfortunately, he also had a fracture to that same arm so his recovery took longer than anticipated.
Now that Kenneth’s injuries have fully healed, he’s out of the clinic and has been introduced into our infant howler nursery. It will take him a few days to adjust and make new friends, but we are so glad to see him recovering. Because of Kenneth’s age, he will stay with us at the Refuge until he’s old enough to be released back into the wild.