Category Archives: News

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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Rescue of Taki

3/12/2014News

 In September 2013 one of the fossil sellers in Ifrane national park that we have been working with for a long time told us about a young macaque being kept at Volubilis (Roman ruins near Meknes) as a tourist attraction.
James, Barbora (Barbary… macaque project – BMP) and myself (Els) went to check it out and found that the people of Volubilis were actually taking quite good care of Taki – but we managed to convince them that it was better to find a solution for him because he would start becoming aggressive to tourists. Well this prediction was right of course…
Not long after this visit they asked us to find a solution for him. This was not easy because there still is no sanctuary for macaques in Moroccco, but we managed to find a good place for him – and this might be a solution for more macaques in the future. So in February we went to Volubilis to pick up Taki and take him to his new home – Meknes zoo – where he is being taken care of and where he has a large enclosure. We hope to be able to help many more macaques being (illegally) kept in Morocco in the not too far future together with Meknes zoo.
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Macaque conservation education at Rabat zoo

3/12/2014News

In the picture below you see children visiting Jardin Zoologique de Rabat playing MPC’s successful “Macaque game”! This programme was launched this month and we aim to reach thousands of children in Morocco that visit the zoo every year with our conservation message! MPC is really pleased to work together with Rabat zoo. We want to thank Trentham Monkey Forest, La Montagne des Singes, Affenberg Salem and La Forêt des Singes for funding this programme!

 

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Infant Shirley almost poached

3/11/2014News

In january Dutch Moroccan tourists tried to take/ steal infant Shirley from the Blue group in Ifrane national park. They would have succeeded if Ali, one of the great local fossil sellers, would not have stopped them from driving off in their car with Shirley. The people later said they did not know it was illegal. Bravo for Ali!

The local fossil sellers in INP (situated near the tourist group and the Blue group) are becoming increasingly involved in protecting the macaques as a result of the Barbary macaque project and MPC are working closely together with them.

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Suistainable cookers to conserve macaque habitat

3/11/2014News

12/2/2014

MPC Director, Els van Lavieren, describes how today MPC gave 30 custom made cookers to local families living in the Ilfrane NP. These cookers will reduce the need to burn forest wood by up to 70% thus saving the Barbary macaques natural habitat.

Today was such an incredibly rewarding day! We had 30 combination oven/cooker/ heater units made here locally – the use of these units will reduce the need for firewood (and thus protect macaque habitat) up to 70%! But the real rewarding part is that we are giving the units to very poor families that live in extreme conditions very far away from civilization – in the middle of the forest. They rely on the collection of fire wood for heating and cooking. It’s a very tough life. This family lives on herding flocks of goats and sheep – the children don’t even go to school as the nearest schools are very far away. Also it has been snowing a lot here, so these people endure extreme cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you can imagine how happy the families were when we arrived with the 4×4 (very needed in the snow and mud to get to their douars (villages)) and gave them the units. We explained why we were doing this and they understood well. They told us all about the macaques that live near this douar and they really understood the objective. We spent some time with them – as always accompanied by delicious bread, mint tea, and lovely company. I felt like Santa today. Tomorrow we are distributing more units – all to families that live in or near macaque habitat in Ifrane national park. I can’t wait! I realize how lucky I am to do this work! Days like this completely make up for the harder times that we also experience in our battle to protect the Barbary macaque.

This project is funded by Burgers Zoo in Holland (via FIN) and in partnership with Ifrane National Park – we are really grateful to all for helping us implementing this very important project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contact

Stichting Moroccan Primate Conservation/
Moroccan Primate Conservation foundation
Van Hogendorpstraat 68E,
1051 BS, Amsterdam
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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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