Panda scandal


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?

1 comment

  • We feel the same here in Indonesia. We are a small group of dedicated people. For real important work we can hardly get any funding and are working hard on proposals and are overjoyed with a few thousand dollars to keep the projects running through which we fight illegal animal trade etc. Side Jobs make it possible to continue this work for me, and despite the difficulties, we wont back out because its such important work. Placing panda’s in a zoo exhibit has no conservational value. rescuing protected from the illegal trade, rehabilitation and protecting them in the wild has.
    The MPC deserves better also. MPC does vital work to protect the barbary macaque from extinction.
    We applaud your very important work!

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Stichting Moroccan Primate Conservation/
Moroccan Primate Conservation foundation
Van Hogendorpstraat 68E,
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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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