Source: BBC News An MP is calling for a ban on keeping primates as pets after seeing the condition of rescued animals. South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray is set to introduce a Ten Minute Rule motion in the Commons on 18 January calling for a ban. Mrs Murray said she visited the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, near Looe, before she was elected in 2010 and was shocked to see the former pets. The government brought in a code of practice for primate keepers in 2010. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the animals were also covered by Animal Welfare Act and some species were licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA). However, Conservative MP Mrs Murray said she was backing the RSPCA and other animal groups who say primates’ needs are too complex for them to be pets and that the regulation is not working. She praised the work of the sanctuary, which is now in her constituency. “Some of the primates there had been pets and had come from various places in Europe. Many had been given unsuitable diets and led them to develop things like diabetes,” she said. After visiting the sanctuary, the MP said she had “adopted” a Barbary macaque which had previously appeared in a circus. Mrs Murray added it was charities and trusts who had to “pick up the burden” after primates were not cared for properly. She said if her moves for a bill did not progress further, she would still push for law changes under the Animal Welfare Act to give primates greater...

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By Francesca Wakefield In celebration of their 50th Anniversary, the World Wide Fund for Nature has released a short film that they hope might inspire a new generation to care about conservation. Written by Stephen Poliakoff and directed by the BAFTA winning Charles Sturridge, the seven minute film – Astonish Me – stars Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton and is set in London’s Natural History Museum. Following a school boy around as he gets locked in after hours, we find a mysterious looking Nighy in a darkened basement room. The boy then gets taken on a multimedia tour of new species only just discovered using still images and mobile phone videos to add intrigue. A bit Night at the Museum perhaps, but is it what conservation needs in order to capture the imagination of kids – or adults for that matter – who might otherwise not care? WWF describe it as “a magical tale of adventure and discovery”. Cheesy? Undoubtedly. Will it work? It’s got to be worth a shot. Showing in Odean cinemas, or watch it...

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Source: Pan African Sanctuary Alliance Harvard / Duke studies published today indicate that PASA rehab strategies help orphaned apes to recover psychologically from bushmeat traumas and could be a reason that success rates are so high in PASA reintroductions. To read, visit: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0017147 The Great Primate Handshake visits and supports a number of PASA sanctuaries. Learn more about their work on our YouTube channel here. Abstracts from the PLoS article: Facilities across Africa care for apes orphaned by the trade for “bushmeat.” These facilities, called sanctuaries, provide housing for apes such as bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) who have been illegally taken from the wild and sold as pets. Although these circumstances are undoubtedly stressful for the apes, most individuals arrive at the sanctuaries as infants and are subsequently provided with rich physical and social environments that can facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors. We tested whether bonobo and chimpanzee orphans living in sanctuaries show any behavioral, physiological, or cognitive abnormalities relative to other individuals in captivity as a result of the early-life stress they experience. Orphans showed lower levels of aberrant behaviors, similar levels of average cortisol, and highly similar performances on a broad battery of cognitive tests in comparisons with individuals of the same species who were either living at a zoo or were reared by their mothers at the sanctuaries. Taken together, these results support the rehabilitation strategy used by sanctuaries in the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and suggest that the orphans we examined did not show long-term signs of stress as a result of their capture. Our findings also show that sanctuary apes are as psychologically healthy as apes in other captive settings and thus represent a valuable resource for non-invasive...

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Source: BBC Sir Richard Branson is to import lemurs to the Caribbean, where they will live wild in the forest on his islands. Of intense debate at the moment is Sir Richard Branson’s plans to introduce lemurs (native to Madagascar) to a Caribbean island. Sparking a number of  twitter conversations across the primate community (both supporting and dismissing the plans), we thought we would open up a debate and post any updates we encounter to monitor the eventual outcome and to explore the debates and questions raised. Updates 02/05/11 The following articles suggest that plans are set to continue as normal. Source: http://www.greenantilles.com Branson says island may save lemurs and in this follow-up/response, Sir Richard’s possible folly. And from Reuters, Richard Branson gets flak for lemur relocation plan. The BBC’s coverage continues below: Sir Richard Branson is to import lemurs to the Caribbean, where they will live wild in the forest on his islands. The project has alarmed conservation scientists, who point out that many previous species introductions have proved disastrous to native wildlife. But Sir Richard’s team maintains that both the lemurs, which will come from zoos, and native animals will be fine. Introducing species found on one continent into another for conservation purposes is virtually unprecedented. Lemurs are found only on the African island of Madagascar and many species are threatened, largely because of deforestation. The threat has grown worse since the toppling of President Marc Ravalomanana’s government two years ago, which allowed illegal logging to flourish. “We’ve been helping to try and preserve lemurs, and sadly in Madagascar because of the government being overthrown the space for lemurs is getting less and less,” Sir Richard told BBC News from his Caribbean property. “Here on Moskito Island we’ve got a beautiful rainforest – we brought in experts from South Africa, and they say it would be an absolutely perfect place where lemurs can be protected and breed.” Ring-tailed and red ruffed lemurs are two of the species in the plan. Both are on the Red List of Threatened Species. Moskito (also spelled Mosquito) Island is one of two that Sir Richard owns in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Several luxury houses, including one for the boss of the Virgin business empire himself, are being built on it. His other island is Necker, home to an eco-tourism resort where a stay is priced at around $2,000 (£1,200) per day. The plan has aroused a lot if interest locally, with the bulletin boards of BVI news websites buzzing with comments for and against, and politicians locking horns. And it concerned conservation scientists contacted by BBC News. “Maybe [Sir Richard]...

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Revealed at last week’s CES 2011 show in Las Vegas (International Consumer Electronics Show) – OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) demonstrated their new laptop, aptly named the XO 1.75 (not quite 2.0, but getting there). The Great Primate Handshake currently use the older XO model to explore ways in which educational materials can be distrubuted to schools and students using XO laptops across Africa. We have experienced the advantages of using XO laptops in the field, as well as the disadvantages, so it was with delight to see that some of the existing limitations have now been overcome. The improvements: The Hand Crank – The once trailed, but deemed unsuccessful, “Hand Crank” was designed to allow students to crank up their laptop, producing enough power for a typical lesson. Although in principle the device should have worked, it was found to have been to clumsy and inefficient, resulting in several hours of cranking for perhaps an hours use of the laptop. With the change from AMD processors, to Marvell processors, the laptop now uses 2 – 3 watts of power instead of 4. This dramatic power reduction, combined with an improved crank, should result in a 2 hour crank achieving 7 hours worth of use. A very necessary requirement for children using the laptop in areas devoid of power. The Cost – Thanks both to the lowering cost of hardware since the XO’s initial release, coupled with the change of processor, the XO laptop should now be available for $165 (£106). This is still not the initial “$100 Laptop” (the original laptop’s desired cost) but is an improvement on the path to a sub-$100 machine. As a comparison, the original XO laptop was closer to $250 when launched if purchased by individuals or organisations. For more information view the BBC’s coverage...

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