Recently MPC has started to build a network of enthusiastic Moroccan members living in the 3 most touristic cities of Morocco – Meknes, Fes and Marrakech. This team will help spread our message and also help with doing PR for our new project MonkeyWatch a project that we will tell more about soon. We welcome Yassine, Ilias and Faissal to our team.
By: Katie Chabrière
Two exciting things happened for myself and MPC in the latter half of 2013; one being that I became MPC’s Education Officer, and the other that MPC and Selamatkan Yaki, the Indonesian charity fighting to save the Sulawesi crested black macaque, joined forces in macaque protection, albeit two different species of “Macaca” living on continents 3,580 kilometres apart!
The partnership between both organisations came about after MPC Director Els assisted in creating a Species Action Plan for the Sulawesi macaque (otherwise known as the Yaki), in Manado, Indonesia, last April. Clearly both Barbary and crested black macaques are facing extinction due to similar, human-related threats such as deforestation, hunting and human-animal conflict, although the Yaki’s problem of being hunted for bushmeat is not as common in Morocco, with the taking of infants from the wild for the pet or entertainment trade being more prominent there.
Both teams of dedicated conservationists realized the potential to learn from one another created by such a partnership, and one example of this lies in sharing and exchanging education strategies. This is why in December I found myself on the long flight from the UK to Manado on Sulawesi Island. Slightly jittery from the jetlag and extreme jump in temperatures, I set out in a taxi (even though I was within walking distance, the traffic in Indonesia is generally rather too crazy to risk going anywhere on foot) to the Selamatkan Yaki offices to meet the team. I had arrived just in time for their morning meeting, which I sat in on, learning of their current developments and projects, such as the fantastic idea of placing banners in prominent bushmeat-consuming areas, discouraging the act, and the holding of an information stand at the very market with one of the biggest bushmeat trades on the island. I myself gave an update as to current events at MPC, such as the MonkeyWatch programme and the work I am carrying out in schools in the UK and Morocco this year. One thing that was resoundingly clear was the mutual enthusiasm and hard work of both organisations’ volunteers, as well as the obvious benefits of working with those children holding the future of both species of macaque in their very hands.
After a sumptuous vegetarian lunch at a local restaurant, I was whisked off to the National Park, around a 1.5 hour drive south of Manado, which is one of the Yakis last strongholds. Early the next morning, I had the pleasure of a guided tour into the forest to observe (from afar of course, and leaving only footprints!) both tarsiers and crested black macaques. It took us a long time to find the macaques, which to me is a good sign, as the guided tours really do leave them entirely to their own devices, and if you don’t find them, you don’t find them! We spent around an hour observing the group of around 30 individuals from afar. On our walk back, I was once again reassured to meet one of the Indonesian students, who makes up part of the research team reporting back to Selamatkan Yaki on the Yaki’s whereabouts, group dynamics and of course potential threats.
Between this group of ‘forest guardians’ and of course what Selamatkan Yaki is doing both at home and abroad, I feel the future is actually very positive for the survival of these unique and beautiful primates. I left Sulawesi full of inspiration for Barbary macaque conservation and education strategies! As fate would have it, the lady I was sitting next to on the plane began chatting to me about the charity she runs, which empowers charitable organisations by giving them access to free software to create ‘virtual classrooms’ on the web, thus provoking the idea of facilitating an exchange of ‘live’ workshops between MPC and our Indonesian counterparts. Being part Indonesian herself, the lady’s eyes lit up when I said I was visiting ‘Selamatkan Yaki’. “Oh, that means Save the Yaki in Indonesian!”, she quite rightly said. And with the new, fresh ideas and enthusiasm both organisations are now sharing, that is exactly what we are going to do; oh and the Barbaries too of course!
The MPCUK Education Programme began this year as a pilot scheme in a school in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and has now gained so much interest in other schools throughout the region that volunteers are currently being recruited to be trained to meet the demand. In exchange for a school term of workshops on Barbary macaques, Morocco and primate and habitat conservation, the school (primary or secondary) commits to fundraise for MPC. The workshops can be curriculum linked and introduced into lesson schedules or as part of extra-curricular activities. Primary workshops are predominantly arts and crafts based in their output, but include worksheets on biology and creative writing, whilst material in secondary schools is largely scientific. Ashville Primary School Eco Club students have so far carried out a bake sale for MPC, are set to visit Trentham Monkey Park in Spring to see their now much-loved Barbary macaques in the flesh, and will soon be undertaking a penpal scheme to link up with a school in the Azrou region. The purpose of this scheme is two-fold: to enable pupils in the UK to catch a glimpse of life in Morocco and experience communicating across distance and cultures, but also to create a feeling of how loved Barbary macaques are, not only in Morocco, but also in another parts of the world. The programme is currently being expanded to include universities, predominantly as a means to recruit volunteers interested in MPC’s work.read more
There have been some exciting changes in our team:
First of all we are super pleased to announce that we have a new board member – Pauline Verheij – Pauline works as an independent consultant specializing in issues pertaining to wildlife crime. She is an environmental lawyer and has a background in law enforcement and wildlife conservation. After living and working in Malaysia for TRAFFIC/WWF as their tiger trade programme manager (2009-2012), she established her own company EcoJust in 2012, based in the Netherlands.
Charlotte Oxley is now our new PR and online Fundraising Officer. We are glad to have her on board and we are looking forward to increasing our online presence in the new year (firstname.lastname@example.org). A big THANK YOU to Ian Towle for his great work as our former pr officer!
Katie Chabiere is now the Education Officer for MPC Foundation. After working really hard as a Regional Coordinator and doing a fantastic job with the Yorkshire education projects and during the survey in Marrakech earlier on in the year, she is the perfect person to fulfil this role. We are super pleased to have her on our team in this important position! (email@example.com)
Kristina Stazaker’s role changed from Fundraising and Development worker to the Fundraising Development Manager.
MPC UK really wants to increase the Regional Fundraising Coordinator network so if you are interested or you know anyone who may be please can you tell them to email firstname.lastname@example.org more
On October 1st MPC organsied a meeting in Rabat together with the High Commissary of Water and Forests to talk about a solution for confiscated Barbary macaques in Morocco. We invited BMCRif, Rabat Zoo and SPANA.
So far the zoo would take in occasional macaques but they have recently closed the doors to all macaques because they cannot provide shelter to the high numbers they already have and will receive in the future.
As the new law (29-05) will be announced in the beginning of 2014, regulating the capture and trade of wildlife in Morocco, MPC is really concerned that many macaques that are currently kept in captivity illegally in Morocco will end up being dumped in the forest or killed. The public will have a 6 month transition period in which they can “get rid” of their wildlife – after the 6 months they can receive a fine of minimum 2000 Euro for having a macaque. You can imagine that people will desparately want to get rid of the animals – and for this we really need a rescue center in place.
Not only for the individual animals this is important, but also to stimulate the autorities to enforce the law – if there is no place to take the macaques – there will be no confiscations – and if there are no confiscations the second largest threat to the Barbary macaques will continue to exist.
We keep offering the authorities solutions for this problem but what seems to be the most important step is to first secure funds to build and run this center for a few years. We are looking for investors / funders who would be interested in supporting this vital project. If you are one of them or if yuo have any suggestions – please let us know at email@example.com
By: James Waterman and Barbora Kubenova
Techeta is an around 5 month old infant Barbary macaque who was a victim of the illegal trade. She came to Azrou with Ahmed Elharrad (BMCRif) after a long and stressful search for 4 missing infants that had been taken from the wild “Green group” in Ifrane national park. It was not clear at the time that she arrived if she was one of them, infants change fast and if she was one of them, she had by then been gone for around 3 weeks.
On the day of arrival an initial introduction took place to the Green group but this resulted in that she had to be re-captured because it all went a little too fast for her and she was very scared. However the group members had shown very positive interest in her.
The days after that we took her out to slowly the meet the group from sunset till dusk – we carried her around in a small cage and followed the group and placed her near the group every time they paused. In these days Noddy, an adult male that is not very high in rank showed particular interest in her, offering her to jump on his back and frequently teeth chattering to her. Techeta returned these positive interactions more frequently and slowly started showing that she wanted to go to the group. Also a young female called Dakota was showing interest in her a lot.
So a few days days after her first release we decided to open the cage and let her out. We were extremely nervous and we expected either chaos or a happy reunion…the whole team ready to jump into action, but basically she walked out and started eating. This was an anti climax as much as a relief – she seemed so calm, and the group reacted in a very normal way.
Over the last days she has been doing really well although we got a big scare when she one day seemed very lethargic and did not move much. It turns out she is not getting enough fluids through natural food items, normally at her age the infants still suckle and it has been quite hot the last days. We are now giving her fluids and she is doing much better now. The group seems to understand that she needs some help and accepts that she is getting some special treatment. Even more, Noddy even actively put her in front of the water yesterday so she could drink in peace. Barbary macaques are truly amazing primates. And it looks like Techeta might have a chance to live in the wild again after all she’s been through!read more
By Els van Lavieren
Today has proved that Barbary macaques are the most amazing primates – I will share on of the 2 incredible experiences I had today to underline this – unfortunately not a happy story. This afternoon while I was with the Blue group (Reg and Williams’ group) with the Barbary macaque project team the alpha female Mary was hit by a much too fast driving bus – this is a very busy road and there have been many fatalities on this road before, but this was the first time I was there when it happened. Poor Mary, very badly injured, managed to get up a tree. Her left back leg is broken and there is a bad wound on her knee – and she has a very bad wound on her swelling. She tried to walk with it and it was unbearable to watch. Now primates have a very high pain threshold to not show their weakness so she kept strong. She went up another tree and could not move – and the group after showing distress moved away and she could not follow.
In the meantime we were figuring out what to do as there are no veterinary services available here. After about 30 minutes, Reg the alpha male came back to look for her. He teeth chattered to her, climbed up the tree and started grooming her (see picture) and stayed with her until other males came back and until this very moment she is being watched by a male who is sitting on a branch nearby. Reg coming back almost put us all to tears.
Her injuries were fatal and she did not survive the night. One of the males, Isa, stayed with her the entire night, even though the rest of the group was sleeping farther into the forest.
As the group returned in the morning, many of them stopped below her tree and sat looking up at her. Some climbed into the tree to sit in the branches around her for a short time. One of the sub-adult females, Minnie, sat next to her a long time grooming her. Isa did not leave her the entire day,staying in the tree next to her even when the rest of the group had moved on, and Reg returned to her at the end of the day, just before she was
buried, to sit in the branches across from her for a little while.
Mary was buried next to a favourite spot of ours next to the Blue Group’s range where we normally take our lunch, a beautiful area with a view overlooking a patch of forest across an open field.
MPC is working hard to prevent this from happening again. This is the sign that will be put up in 2 locations along the road in Ifrane National Park. Too late for Mary but hopefully not for the others. These signs are funded by the Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund.read more
13,580 kilometres apart, in completely different habitats, affected by different climate zones, and on different continents, live the Critically Endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque (Macaca nigra) and the Endangered Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) – two species of monkey from the genus “Macaca“.
What do these two species have in common apart from similar threats and behavioural and genetic similarities? Both benefit from a team of hard working individuals with a large group of (local and international) supporters who are working together for their survival, under the auspices of two conservation organisations: Selamatkan Yaki (SY) and the Moroccan Primate Conservation foundation. Both organisations have very similar conservation goals. We are happy to announce a partnership between SY and MPC.
The idea for a partnership came to life after Els van Lavieren (MPC’s Director) assisted during the workshop to create a Species Action Plan for the M. nigra, in Manado, Indonesia in April. MPC had recently been through the process of creating such an important plan for the M. sylvanus, and this way both organisations could make use of each other’s experience. During the meeting in Manado it became clear that both SY and MPC not only both work with charismatic macaque species facing similar threats, but that both organisations also clearly have the same work ethics, goals and ambitions.
Meet the Sulawesi crested black macaque
M. nigra can be found in the forests of North Sulawesi – their common name is Sulawesi crested black macaque, named for their coloration and funky hair style. M. nigra are known locally as Yaki, and are one of seven species of macaque endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, found nowhere else in the world. Apart from an island 345 miles from Sulawesi, Pulau Bacan, M. nigra’s range is restricted to small forest fragments in the province of Minahasa, where they live in large multi-male multi-female groups with an alpha male sitting at the top of the hierarchy. The largest population of crested black macaques are found in Tangkoko Nature Reserve. Unfortunately, the populations of these macaques, like that of the M. sylvanus, have experienced severe declines in recent years, with estimates as high as 80% in the last 30 years. Aside from extensive habitat loss, (a threat similar to the Barbary macaque populations), M. nigra face a more unusual yet devastating threat to the survival of the species. The consumption of macaques in Minahasa is a long held tradition which has grown in parallel to human population expansion, and has thus been identified as the primary threat to the species’ survival. The mainly Christian population in Minahasa lack religious constraints over wildlife consumption as in other regions of Indonesia. Hunting rates have been demonstrated to be highly unsustainable.
Both macaque species are under large (human) pressure, and SY and MPC believe that sharing our knowledge and learning from each other’s experience will enhance the chance of survival for both unique endangered macaque species.
We are very excited to be working together, and hope to help in creating a model to show that working together and forming collaborations can enhance conservation efforts around the world. We will keep you updated on our partnership on MPC’s website and Facebook page.
For more information about SY and M. nigra please check out their website: www.selamatkanyaki.com.read more
By: Kristina Stazaker
Infant Barbary macaques are a common sight in the Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech. Previous studies have shown that this is one of the major trade routes of macaques from Morocco into Europe. Once a macaque is smuggled across the border, they become lost. The foundations of MPC are to end this silent suffering. In Morocco, it appears to be acceptable to use these endangered species as photo props for willing, paying tourists. The practise is banned everywhere else in the coun-try, but the authorities seem to turn a blind eye to the law being violated in the Jemaa el Fna Square. If the willingness to pay for such an experience exists, then its existence will prevail. But what do tourists truly think about it?
The answer to this question is vital for the Moroccan Primate Conservation Foundation to understand and explore. We have to understand what we are trying to stop. I, Katie Chabiere (MPC-UK North Yorkshire Coordinator & Translator) and Els van Lavieren (MPC Director) travelled to Morocco armed with a variety of questions that we wanted to ask the tourists. With the help from the MSc students at Marrakech University, kindly led by Prof. Mohammed Znari , we were able to interview just over 500 tourists about their opinions on the use of the monkeys in the Square.
At first, we attracted much attention from the locals and the authorities, who we managed to placate by providing the necessary paperwork and by introducing ourselves to them. Once we had printed and bought all of the necessary equipment, we headed out into the Square and started interviewing. Generally, the tourists did not mind us asking them questions and a large proportion of them gave us praise for what we were trying to achieve. We trained a new group of students each morning, which gave them not only valuable data collection and research method experience, but also an opportunity to talk to people about an endangered species from their own country. The students were excellent and it was an honour to work with them in this capacity. The days were long, hot and hard. Interviewing people in the Jemaa el Fna Square is no easy task. For people who have been there, you will understand when I mention the noise from the markets, the sounds of the snake charmers, the bell-ringers and the bombardment of vendors trying to sell you goods. We also had the added pressure of working next to and observing tourists having their photos taken with the poor infant macaques. This was particularly difficult, as we are all ex-keepers of rescued Barbary macaques. For eight days we stood there and nothing was going to stop us. We managed to get just over 500 completed questionnaires. Our work was done. At the end of our research, we had the additional honour of being invited to give presentations to the Masters students at Marrakech University. This was a great time to discuss and evaluate conservation strategies to help save the macaques.
This trade is one of the largest threats to the Barbary macaque and we must try everything in our power to stop it. This research trip was an example of people coming together, from many different countries, with the sole aim of protecting one species. We were all there for a common cause. We would like to extend our thanks to IPPL for helping us fund this project and to the students of Marrakech University, with a special thank you to Prof Mohammed Znari The findings of this research will be presented later in the year and form the core of my Master’s thesis with Edinburgh Napier University.read more