Supporting article E: A local initiative to save our endangered species from extinction due to conflicting interests with farmers and other human factors.
DPG Wilderness primate sanctuary
13Jan2008 Filed under: Wilderness primate sanctuary Author: Margaret
Darwin Primate Group Proposal for a primate sanctuary / satellite holding centre to be erected in Wilderness, Western Cape.
To view the full detail of the project please go to to the donate section of www.asendletrust.org.
On the one hand there has been some progress recently in that many previously listed ‘problem animals” (listed under our outdated Problem Animal Act) will be protected in accordance with the requirements of N.E.M.B.A – National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act. N.E.M.B act – 2004 – is a framework aiming for biodiversity in South Africa; the sustainable survival of botanical and zoological species in the ecosystem in conjunction with the fair and equitable utilisation thereof by humans. N.E.M.B.A requires provinces to present Biodiversity plans and redraft Conservation laws in accordance with their requirements which are expected to be implemented in 2007. While waiting for this compliance with NEMBA, the present laws are being applied one of them being the Hunting Proclamation responsible for supporting the decimation of much of our wildlife.
In the past, protected species were not immune to being persecuted under the hunting laws. The Western Cape’s Hunting Proclamation for 2006 is presently in force; like our previous hunting proclamations it does not adhere to the requirements of N.E.M.B.A and continues to place our wildlife and their habitats at severe risk. Farmers – allegedly due to their financial power within South Africa’s political climate – are given the right to exterminate species at the expense of environmental conservation. For example, primate populations and troop structures appear to have been severely damaged in the Western Cape as a result of the hunting proclamation. (This theory is based on my unofficial observations of troops in The Crags where there seems to be a distorted adult male to female ratio amongst baboons baring in mind that a healthy troop is considered to have about 3 or 4 adult females to one adult male). Populations of species like the Caracal and Bushpig who are nocturnal, rarely seen by humans and even less understood, continue to be persecuted relentlessly.
This hunting proclamation has focused on the hunting of free roaming wildlife and actively promotes the extermination of species (from a biased perspective) and unfairly regarded by farmers as “problems”. (Some mammal examples of species considered to be a “problem” to farmers are the Vervet Monkey, Bushpig, Baboon, Porcupine, Caracal and Jackal). These populations have not been monitored and their status remains unknown although some may be slowly but surely heading towards extinction.
With hundreds of primates a year being orphaned once farmers have shot their mothers, from being injured on our roads, poisoned, electrocuted and captured for research or muthi, our primate rehabilitation centres are experiencing increasing difficulty. There are too few adequate habitats available for protective release and this combined with inadequate legislation has significantly limited the amounts of successful releases that have occurred in our rehab centers; there is a backload of primates held in these centres without much hope for freedom in the near future unless the laws are altered to provide adequate protection.
The situation outlined above illustrates a need to find new solutions. Educating the public on how to harmoniously co-exist with the wild animals that share our territory is necessary as are more protective laws, upgraded monitored, supported rehabilitation centres, natural habitat sanctuaries and holding stations acting as a satellite for injured, orphaned animals to be stabilized before being transported to a reputable rehabilitation centre.
Open communication between Nature Conservation, rehab centres and other similar hands-on organizations is important to find common goals towards a solution that serves all parties .
With no official holding centre in Wilderness, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Nature’s Valley and surroundings, the proposed centre will service an area where an urgent need exists.
To erect 2 or three enclosures – each with separate compartments added to introduce individuals if needed – for the sole purpose of holding animals needing protection and for those who need to be stabilized before being transported to a reputable rehabilitation centre.
Enclosures will be structured in a manner that is not permanent so they can be moved if necessary. Enclosures provided will contain an enriched environment that meets the special needs – social, environmental and psychological – of the species.
Hours: The Primate Centre will provide 24 hours 7 days a week care for the animals.
Species and requirements: The primary species to be held in this holding station will be the Chacma Baboon and Vervet Monkey.
Enclosures housing these different primate species will be designed to accommodate their different needs with regard to the fact that baboons are considered to be a natural predator of the Vervet.
Education and Awareness: To educate local residents and visitors to the area on harmonious co-existence with Vervets and Baboons. The goal for any awareness program will be to increase awareness of the natural behaviour, intrinsic and ecological value of the particular primates species held at the Centre, and to highlight human-animal conflict and ex situ problems with the goal of reducing these and providing solutions.
Needs of social animals: To ensure that each primate is introduced to others of her kind as soon as is possible.
Medical: To have access to veterinary treatment.
Record Keeping: To keep records of each individual animal that is brought to the centre.
Birth control: To ensure no breeding occurs at the centre. In the case of sanctuary candidates, birth control should be considered.
Funding: To raise funds to sustain this project as a non-profit organization.
Through awareness programmes at the centre that do not compromise or impact on the quality of life of the individual animals or the project, depending on each individual’s position with regard to potential full release back into the wild.
Through public donations.
Rehabilitation Candidate Definition:
An animal suitable for rehabilitation is one that has a good chance of recovery (in the case of injured animals), de-humanization (captive-reared) and orientation (displaced), such that they can be released into the natural environment with a high chance of survival, in that it will be able to fend or itself, forage on its own, express normal behaviours, be healthy and disease free and be independent of human assistance for survival, and can compete for survival in their natural environment.
Natural Habitat Sanctuary candidate definition:
Suitable candidates for a sanctuary are those for which it has been established that they cannot be rehabilitated back to wild, but who are physically and psychologically able to enjoy quality of life in an enriched captive environment. Suitable candidates for sanctuaries are: highly humanised, old and frail animals and animals injured or disabled in such a manner that they can live a good life even though they cannot be released to the wild.