Author Archives: MPC Foundation

Entertainment with macaques is spreading

3/2/2015News

Over the last years Marrakech has been the hotspot for the use of Barbary macaques for photo souvenirs or more commonly named photo-props. But recenty we have seeen this horrible (ab)use spread to Meknes and even the road to the Sahara.

These macaques are all wild caught and are kept in small cages in the sroching sun on a chain to entertain tourists. People often do not know that terrible suffering behind this. The macaques are dominated and “broken” to do little tricks. When they are too old – they become too dangerous and nobody really knows what happens to them after that but they are most likely killed.

At the same time the infant macaques are illegaly being sold for the pet trade. We are fighting hard to end this in Morocco but as long as tourists keep paying for this the government will not see this as something that has to be stopped!

If you want to pledge against this please sign the pledge on www.mpcfoundation.org.uk and become a member of this Facebook page.

 

 

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1/30/2015News

Here’s a video with Els van Lavieren (director MPC) talking about MPC’s work in Morocco (Dutch spoken):

http://www.burgerszoo.nl/nieuws/burgers-zoo-natuurlijk/

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Changes in the Gandalf group

11/6/2014News

The Gandalf group is the group that we visit with cuctomers for our eco-tourism project MonkeyWatch (www.monkeywatch.org).

It is a very interesting time in the forest right now. It is currently mating season, and the MonkeyWatch Group has had a lot of excitement lately. Unfortunately, Frodo, the alpha male of the MonkeyWatch group, has not been seen for a few days. This leaves the group with only two adult males, while there are six adult females; very good odds for a male trying to mate! The two other males in the MonkeyWatch Group are Gandalf and Gollum. Although not as big as Frodo, who is a very impressive monkey, Gandalf is still fairly large and a powerful-looking male. He was, however, the lowest-ranking of the three males. Although small, old, and walks with a limp, Gollum managed to secure the second rank among the males due to his close associations with Frodo. Poor Gandalf was on the bottom on the hierarchy, since Gollum could get support from Frodo in conflicts. With Frodo gone, however, it could be Gandalf’s time to take over the group as the new alpha male. A group with only two males and six females is however a very attractive group for a male to be a part of, since most groups have nearly equal numbers of males and females.
This is also the time of year when encounters between different groups are most frequent. A new male was seen a few days ago near the edge of the Blue Group, perhaps trying to join them. When the Blue Group and MonkeyWatch Group came into contact with each other yesterday morning, however, this new male successfully joined the MonkeyWatch group instead. This new male is very popular with the females, in mating consortships with both Samwise and Pippin. Based on the circumstances and receptivity of the females, it is possible that he will become a permanent member of the group. And based on his size, I would not be surprised if he becomes the new alpha male.
This new big male is not the only new competition for Gandalf. Two young males from the Blue Group, Lou and Merseault, may also be trying to join the MonkeyWatch Group. These males are just reaching sexual maturity and are at the age where they will be looking to disperse from their natal group to join a new group. Encounters between groups may be an ideal time to disperse. Lou managed to sneak his way into the MW Group during the intergroup encounter and stayed with them when MW moved away from Blue, but he eventually lost his nerve and returned to the outer edge of the MW group. These young males seem to be lacking the charisma of the new older male, spending their time at the edge of the group, and were chased on several times by the new male and by Gandalf, but they kept coming back and trying. Maybe with continued persistence they will succeed at integrating themselves into the group.
It will be very interesting to see whether these males successfully integrate into the group, whether they will stay after mating season ends, and whether Gandalf will be able to hold on to his very short-lived position at the top.

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Panda scandal

10/24/2014Blogspot

Everybody who works in conservation knows that funding is and always will be a major issue. I am not talking about our non existent or low salaries; this is something we unfortunately often have little choice in than to accept it. And lucky as we are, most of us are passionate and driven people – which is often more satisfying than a fat paycheck. Often, I said…..because admittedly, financial security would be nice for a change.

No, I am mainly talking about the struggle to find funds for important projects. We all know the feeling of having spent weeks on this amazing funding proposal, and being extremely proud of ourselves after having submitted the proposal to a fund. That feeling of anticipation when waiting for a positive reply, because the proposal meets all the criteria and simply kicks ass this time.

Finally, after waiting for ages, at least that’s what it feels like, you receive an email in your inbox telling you – we are sorry to inform you that …… and we don’t even read any further. Disappointment. But mainly anger is what I feel. Because for me, what I do is the most important thing in the world. For me it is hard to understand that somebody else does not share my belief that the Barbary macaque shoud be stopped from going extinct.

But then the anger slowly fades and I realize that I am competing with thousands of people like myself who need funds to save “their” species. This I can accept of course.

But what I can’t accept is the sums of money that are wasted on wild animal related projects that to my opinion should be used for small ngo’s that often make a huge difference in the world. I will give you an example.

Did you know that a (private) zoo in Belgium called Pairi Daiza is paying China €700.000 Euro per year to exhibit 2 pandas that are on loan from China? On top of that this “zoo” pays 1 million Euro annually for food and care, and an extra €100.000 annually for insurance.

If you were not impressed yet – here’s another example. And I realise I might come across as a panda basher – but I am happy to take that risk.

Edinburgh Zoo pays €750.000 annually to China for 2 pandas. If one dies they have to pay China £300.000. They invested £300.000 in a specialized panda exhibit. And buying bamboo to feed these moneytake…I mean moneymakers costs the zoo £70.000 every year.

Oh, I see, the panda is the symbol of nature? Symbol my ***!

With these amounts of money, small ngos like MPC, and with us many many others who are doing amazing work in conservation, can work for years and years and actually make a difrerence for the future of our planet.

Or is that not what we really want deep in our hearts? Do we rather spend money on seeing a panda in an artificial environment in Scotland or France? I mean, what’s so special about a Barbary macaque right?

Well, I hereby invite you all to come to Morocco and participate in our eco-tourism programme called MonkeyWatch to see for yourself what all my fuss is about. See you in Azrou?

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Increased poaching in Ifrane NP

7/7/2014Geen categorie, News

It is widely known that Ifrane National Park is the main poaching area in Morocco. One of the reasons for this is that there are habituated groups in the forest that are being fed by tourists and are thus much easier to capture for the illegal pet trade.

We have seen an increase in the last year of people coming to the forest and trying to catch the young macaques themselves. In the past most macaques were captured by organised groups of poachers but it is becoming increasingly easy to capture an infant macaque in these habituated groups.

The presence of the Barbary macaque project students and also some of the fossil sellers that are close to these groups during the day has stopped poachers from succeeding to take a macaque from the wild – that shows how important it is to have surveillance over these groups, especially in the summer months.

We want to share 2 cases where Faical Boutlib, an MSc student of the University of Fez, was extremely brave and stopped people from taking infants from the Blue group.

The first case was when 2 Moroccan people came to the Blue group to capture an infant for their children to play with. Luckily Faical was there and he and his friends stopped them and called the authorities. It s unkown if they actualy arrested the people but at least they did not succeed to take the infant.

The 2nd was the case was when 5 Moroccans who live in Spain came and one of them started to climb a cedar tree. Luckily Faical and Nina were there  and stopped the poachers. They wanted to take the newborn of a female monkey. Faical took the registration number of the car which was Spanish, and called the authorities. There are rumours that these people were arrested but we do not have a confirmation of that.

We are very worried about this news and MPC is planning on increasing the surveillance in the coming months to guard mainly the habituated groups in the Azrou forest area.

The Blue group - this is how easy it is to approach infants and juveniles

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MonkeyWatch is ready!

7/7/2014News

 

After much talk and preparation, the eco-tourism program created by Moroccan Primate Conservation is about to change the way tourists see Azrou and especially the beautiful Ifrane Forest. Not only will it show people a different side of Morocco, that is, a quiet and peaceful forest sanctuary, it will also allow them to experience what so few have – wild and interesting Barbary macaques. It really is a unique experience in Morocco.

We started by finding three guides that we could trust to lead our customers while at the same time being leaders in the park for looking for and stopping illegal activities. The three that were perfect for the job, Abdellah, Taibi, and Saleh, are enthusiastic, motivated and experienced enough to make MonkeyWatch work. After some great training days in partnership with the Park officials, and the Barbary Macaque Project, our guides were more than prepared to jump right in and show tourists the beautiful forest and most importantly, the amazing monkeys!

Our first customers loved the experience. The kids had a lot of fun navigating with the compass and GPS, and the entire family enjoyed the behavioural observations of the monkeys. They thought it was such an exclusive experience that they would not get anywhere else, and were more than happy to spread the word.

We think it is a great start to what will become a great tool in the conservation of Barbary macaques. Not only will it educate tourists about the monkeys, but locals alike, and that conserving them is in the best interest of the community. We hope that when others in Azrou see the success of MonkeyWatch, more and more people will work together to protect the forest.

For more information go to our website: www.monkeywatch.org and like our Facebook page

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Education Programme Morocco 2014

7/7/2014News

Following on from our successful pilot programme in 2012, May and June this year saw us running our first ever fully-fledged education programme, reaching around 20 primary schools in the macaque-inhabited areas around Azrou and Ifrane National Park. We estimate that around 1500-1700 children aged between 6 and 11 were reached. The aim of the programme was to highlight the problems that Barbary macaques face and to sensitize children towards viewing them as a protected species and an important part of their culture and contributor to the biological diversity of their environment, as well as raising awareness of the habitat destruction and the growing problem of litter.

Our Education Officer Kate Chabriere set out to Morocco to oversee the initial stages of the programme, expertly carried out by two local primary school teachers Driss and Mustafa. The programme received the support of local conservation organisation AESVT. Children were shown a power point presentation, then invited to read our six beautiful educational rollups. Younger children were read our story book Cedar. Armed with all this new information, we then played the Barbary macaque board game, a giant game printed on a huge pvc sheet. The children themselves were the counters and they could advance around the board (bringing the baby macaque back to its family) if their team answered questions on macaques and conservation in general correctly.

It was a huge success. The ‘fun’ aspect clearly enhanced the learning side and the childrens’ positive feelings towards the macaques. Pre and post programme surveys were carried out with the children, the results of which will help us improve for next time and estimate how much the children learned from the programme. We hope to publish these results soon. Workshop leader Driss said in his report “I am surprised and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the children and by how delighted the schools were to have been chosen to participate. It has lead some schools to want to organise excursions into nature to learn more about wildlife.”

This programme will now bi-annually and we are already planning another project with schools for the years when the programme doesn’t run – a treasure hunt and rubbish clean up in the National Park. Of course, children are the future and their attitude towards nature will determine whether or not species are fundamentally able to survive. We feel that our education programme is a huge step in the right direction for Barbary macaques.

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Corridor Project

5/12/2014News


It didn’t take long for the corridor project to get underway! Once the superstar scientist Nelly Menard showed up, it was a matter of hours before discussion about the project and mapping of the first route was already completed.

It is an amazing opportunity to work with a great scientist who knows a lot about the region, the ecology of Barbary macaques, and the vegetation of the park. Nelly really is an encyclopedia of facts. We have noticed that Nelly has had an answer for every question she is asked – which is a lot!
The work consists of walking a few kilometers throughout the day to different points that have been randomly selected. When we arrive at the point, we survey a square meter plot of all the vegetation that grows within the boundaries. While this seems simple, there have been a few times where one plot takes three hours – who knew there could be so many types of grass in such a small area! We collect the plants within the plot, and trek onto the next one. The work becomes incredibly rewarding when you see a particularly beautiful patch of forest, or see wild monkeys watching you from their trees, even despite the hay fever, and the heat!
We are happy to have three Moroccan forestry students join us for a week in the field – they know a lot about the forest, but will also learn a different perspective about conservation and ecology. But maybe more importantly, many hands make light work!

This survey, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is focused on re- connecting the fragmented forest and macaque habitat in Ifrane national park with corridors by planting trees to connect the different isolated forest patches in the future and thus the isolated macaque populations to enhace gene flow and survival of the species in the long run. By surveying the food availibility for the macaques per fragment and looking at macaque densities we hope to identify the most important fragments that need to be connected.

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MonkeyWatch

5/12/2014News

MonkeyWatch is ready!

After much talk and preparation, the eco-tourism program created by Moroccan Primate Conservation is about to change the way tourists see Azrou and especially the beautiful Ifrane Forest. Not only will it show people a different side of Morocco, that is, a quiet and peaceful forest sanctuary, it will also allow them to experience what so few have – wild and interesting Barbary macaques. It really is a unique experience in Morocco.

We started by finding three guides that we could trust to lead our customers while at the same time being leaders in the park for looking for and stopping illegal activities. The three that were perfect for the job, Abdellah, Taibi, and Saleh, are enthusiastic, motivated and experienced enough to make MonkeyWatch work. After some great training days in partnership with the Park officials, and the Barbary Macaque Project, our guides were more than prepared to jump right in and show tourists the beautiful forest and most importantly, the amazing monkeys!

Our first customers loved the experience. The kids had a lot of fun navigating with the compass and GPS, and the entire family enjoyed the behavioural observations of the monkeys. They thought it was such an exclusive experience that they would not get anywhere else, and were more than happy to spread the word.

We think it is a great start to what will become a great tool in the conservation of Barbary macaques. Not only will it educate tourists about the monkeys, but locals alike, and that conserving them is in the best interest of the community. We hope that when others in Azrou see the success of MonkeyWatch, more and more people will work together to protect the forest.

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MPC UK receives Gift aid status and more!

3/14/2014News

MPC UK received charitable status from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, allowing us to gift aid donations. The gift aid scheme enables MPC-UK to reclaim the basic tax rate on all donations, at no extra cost to you. If you pay income or capital gains tax in the UK at least equal to the amount MPC-UK claims, we can reclaim 25p for every £1 donated and receive a further 3% transitional relief from the Government.

We will gradually update our literature and website to incorporate these benefits so it’s easier to help the macaques even more! Last week we partnered up with GoldenGiving, a fundraising platform allowing supporters to create their own donations pages in aid of MPC-UK. We have also been accepted to a scheme called Missionfish, a Paypal Giving Fund enabling eBay and PayPal users to give to verified charitable causes. This is exciting as we will be able to have an online charity shop to raise funds.

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If you wish to do a one-off donation, but cannot use the links please transfer your donation to account number 390469130. (IBAN: NL94TRIO 0390469130 and BIC/ SWIFT: TRIONL2U). Please put your email address in the subject of your transfer so that we can contact you.

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Contact

Stichting Moroccan Primate Conservation/
Moroccan Primate Conservation foundation
Van Hogendorpstraat 68E,
1051 BS, Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31(0)644787261 /
+212(0)652641309
Email: info@mpcfoundation.nl

About us

MPC is an NGO that has successfully worked on the conservation of the endangered Barbary macaque in Morocco since 2003. MPC is the official partner of the Moroccan government for the protection of this unique species. 

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