Every year Refuge for Wildlife rescues hundreds of monkeys and other wildlife that have been electrocuted due to uninsulated power lines and transformers. Electrocution is the #1 killer of howler monkeys in Costa Rica. Our emergency response team, of staff and volunteers, have the experience and expertise to rescue monkeys from transformers and electrical wires with specialist equipment. Our founder, Brenda Bombard has 17 years experience rehabilitating howler monkeys and other wildlife that have suffered extreme burns, amputations and other injures from electrocution.
This is a country-wide problem, but rural areas like Nosara, are where most wildlife deaths from electrocution occur. Unfortunately monkeys do not know the difference between electrical wires and natural vines and will often travel across wires to get to feeding grounds. This is especially an issue in areas of deforestation where monkeys are faced with no other choice than to risk traveling on electrical wires. Thanks to the co-operative efforts of our Stop the Shocks Program and ICE, our electrical service provider, most of the electrical wires in the Playas de Nosara area were replaced with insulated cables many years ago. It is because of this hard work, that today our monkeys can travel without injury along many kilometres of electrical wires. There are, though, still many areas where uninsulated electrical wires are a problem and all it takes is a monkey to touch two live wires to be electrocuted. The main issue with monkeys using the wires is that attached to all wires are high voltage electrical transformers. The monkeys travel along the wires in search for food and end up needing to cross a transformer to reach the wire on the other side. These transformers are very dangerous, with many parts of the transformer able to deliver a deadly jolt of electricity to anything that touches it. Sadly, our monkeys cannot sense the danger until it’s too late. The shock is extremely painful and causes horrific electrical burns and often muscular spasms so the monkey cannot let go and sometimes even catch on fire. What is worse, is that when a member of the troop is crying out in pain, the rest of the troop will try to help which often causes several family members to become electrocuted and die.
Most of our surviving electrical burn victims are infant howlers. The reason they survive the initial electrocution is because they are holding onto their mothers. The mother absorbs most of the electrical current and the babies usually only have burns on their hands, tail and any other body part in direct contact with their mother. Some are lucky enough to have only minor burns. At our onsite clinic, our veterinarian and skilled staff are experienced with treating electrical burns. Some amputations are performed to remove decaying limbs, fingers, toes and parts of tails, but usually the best treatment is proper cleaning of the wounds, pain relief, antibiotics and silver sulfadiazine burn cream. We are always amazed at how well infant howlers are able to adapt with their disabilities and recover with little to no scars.
If you encounter wildlife being electrocuted, call Refuge for Wildlife immediately to report a Wildlife Emergency 8824-3323. NEVER try to rescue a wild animal and NEVER try to knock a monkey off wires or transformers with anything – you risk being electrocuted. Follow our guidelines on WHAT TO DO IN A WILDLIFE EMERGENCY.
If a monkey, or other wildlife, has died and you find it on the ground near a transformer – it most likely was electrocuted.
Take 5 photographs: Take 1 photo of the dead animal, 1 of the transformer number painted on the pole, 1 of the transformer from straight on, 1 of the transformer from the right, 1 of the transformer from the left. EXAMPLE PHOTOS
Email us at email@example.com and tell us the location of the electrocution and attach your photographs. With the photos we can obtain a quote for the cost to have the transformer insulated. Reporting a wildlife death is very important so we have accurate information on the locations of uninsulated transformers or wires are injuring our wildlife. If you do not report it, no one will know that it’s a problem.
Take the initiative, be proactive and help us keep our wildlife safe by checking your transformers and power lines. Remember ,there is no company or government agency that monitors power lines and transformers or provides the equipment to ensure wildlife safety. There is currently no law that requires anyone to insulate transformers and power lines. Purchasing and installing wildlife protection equipment is done entirely through donations with the help of Refuge for Wildlife and the Stop the Shocks Program. The Stop the Shocks Program is run by a committee of concerned and dedicated volunteers trying to tackle this problem and we need your help. Learn everything you need to know about INSULATING YOUR TRANSFORMERS AND POWER LINES.
Help us by checking the transformers and power lines in your area. Check that wildlife protection equipment is still safely attached (sometimes components come loose in the wind or when animals continually travel on them). If you notice a piece of wildlife protection equipment has come loose, is damaged, or missing, call Refuge for Wildlife or ICE and report the problem.
Only ICE can install and repair wildlife protection equipment. NEVER attempt this yourself – you WILL be electrocuted.
Unsure what uninsulated and insulated transformers and power lines look like? Learn everything you need to know about INSULATING YOUR TRANSFORMERS AND POWER LINES.
Monitor the trees near power lines and transformers. Make sure they are not close the wires otherwise monkeys and other wildlife will be able to climb on them and risk electrocution. Always call ICE and ask them to trim the trees back from power lines and transformers near your home. Never attempt to trim branches yourself – you risk being killed by electrocution.
Remember that the wildlife, especially monkeys, use the trees to travel to and from feeding grounds. If even one tree is cut along their route, the natural tree bridge will be lost and the monkeys will be forced to find another way. This often means traveling along dangerous power lines and transformers or risking attacks from dogs or being hit by cars on the ground. Pay attention to which trees are beneficial to wildlife and be mindful of cutting these important trees.
Be careful where you plant new trees on your property. Planting a delicious papaya tree right under an uninsulated transformer is sure to end in dozens of monkey deaths. If you’re planting trees that benefit the animals, make sure they are away from power lines and transformers and in an area where they will not be harassed by dogs. Remember, the monkeys need a natural tree route that leads to these tasty trees otherwise they will risk their lives traveling on the ground or across wires.
You can make a US tax deductible donation via PayPal through “Friends of Nosara” or you can also make a Costa Rican tax deductible donation through our non-profit foundation via a bank transfer by selecting “Offline Donation” to receive our Costa Rican bank details. Our Stop the Shocks program focuses on insulating power lines and transformers as well as educating the community which includes local schools. The average cost to insulate a household transformer ranges from $250-$550 USD with the average high voltage commercial transformer costing $950-$1500USD to insulate. Your tax deductible donation will be used towards insulating one of the many uninsulated transformers in Nosara or one you may designate. You can also donate towards care for one of our injured and orphaned monkeys. Find out more on our Adopt A Monkey page.