The United Nations have declared 2010 the year of International Biodiversity. According to reports, the increasing loss of species across the globe is not only affecting the environment, but the well being of the human species. The UN exclaims that, “…as natural systems such as wetlands and forests are gradually eroded, we lose the services that they perform for free. These include purification of air and water, protection from extreme weather events, and the provision of materials for shelter and fire.” As a direct result of human activity (city expansion, infrastructure and farming), the pace at which species are becoming extinct is roughly 1,000 times greater than the natural or ‘background’ rate of extinction. Some biologists believe that we are in the midst of ‘Earth’s sixth great extinction’ – the previous five having being caused by natural events such as asteroid impacts. The Year of International Biodiversity is an opportunity to raise the alarm for accelerated species extinction, and to celebrate the diversity of life on earth before it really is too late. Follow and support the Year of International Biodiversity here (http://www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/). Other links:...

Read More

A United Nations conservation expert has made calls for the inclusion of gorilla protection in the global climate negotiations in Copenhagen. The official explained that gorillas play a vital role in maintaining their forest habitat – which plays a ‘central role in the planet’s climate regulation.’ Commencing next week on the 7th December, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will host the world’s leaders as they aim to set realistic and effective targets for preventing global warming. Continue reading here: http://www.africanconservation.org/content/view/1729/405/...

Read More

Goodbye South Africa


Posted By on Oct 2, 2009

Monday the 28th of September saw the end of not only four weeks in South Africa, but also the end to the Handshake’s collective four month tour of the African continent. Starting in Johannesburg on the 1st of September, 20 volunteers from different backgrounds, of different ages and varying motivations, all came together under one objective – to raise awareness of primate conservation in South Africa. The last four weeks have been an incredible journey. From the staggering amount of content produced over the expedition; to the bonds, ties and friendships formed between the volunteers – I think I can speak for everyone when I say it truly has been an experience of a lifetime. Spanning South Africa from Jo’burg to Cape Town in our big yellow truck, setting up our mobile production unit anywhere with an available plug socket, it has been an epic voyage that I don’t think any of us will forget. Over the coming weeks the digital media produced by the Handshake volunteers will make its way online – and to the sanctuaries and organizations it was created...

Read More

Situation on the Cape


Posted By on Sep 26, 2009

Over recent months, there has been an escalating situation on the Cape peninsula concerning baboons. A major conservation problem exists on the peninsula, in that an isolated population of baboons can’t leave the area and new baboons can’t enter. The natural migration routes have been gradually blocked by urbanization, meaning that the pathway to other potential baboon habitats and troops has been replaced by developed land. This unnatural isolation has lead to a number of existing and developing problems – one of the main being dispersing male baboons finding towns and cities instead of other baboon troops. A few months ago the management protocol on the Cape for dispersing male baboons was that if any male entered the urban space three times, he would be euthanized. The Baboon Management Trust decided that the ruling was too harsh – that of course all males will eventually enter the urban space three times, systematically leading to the extinction of all males from this population. The protocol was revised, which included relocation (in Bart’s case) to a troop with an opening for a new male. The protocol now allows for numerous relocations, however with the cost amounting to roughly 10,000 Rand to transfer a baboon across the Cape, there are only so many relocations available to specific baboons before a more permanent solution is proposed. The decision is ultimately left to the Wildlife Advisory Committee. They oversee all wildlife throughout South Africa, and using Bart as an example, the committee has decided that as he has displayed no interest in integration with other troops despite numerous efforts, the only option left is euthanasia. With four other male baboons currently being tracked having dispersed and being spotted in urban areas, and twelve males on the outskirts of Tokai forest waiting to disperse, the situation is definitely worsening. A sanctuary has been suggested, although local land managers have expressed little interest in the idea; and with an unavoidably large bill to build and maintain the establishment, it would be highly difficult to initiate a sanctuary for baboons on the Cape. Baboon management on the Cape is in a peculiar position. The situation is fairly unique  – high human conflict and no cultural attachment to the animal means that little compassion towards a long-term solution such as a sanctuary can be seen. With the Cape conflict on the rise, a solution to the problem is desperately needed. Both in the short term for the existing urbanized baboons, and long term in the hope to resolve the problem. Continue...

Read More

Bart’s story


Posted By on Sep 26, 2009

Updates: Our current understanding is that Bart is still alive and still on campus. The situation remains precarious. A petition has been started to raise awareness of Bart’s situation, but there is no change to the arranged plans – Bart is still due to be euthanised. We will keep you updated as we learn more. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iF2ttt5qKc Originating from Tokai forest, Bart is a rogue male. He is thought to have left his troop in search of another, but instead of finding a home with other baboons, he found his home with students on the campus of Cape Town University. Originally spotted on the campus in August of last year, Bart was relocated to Cape Point – the furthest point south of the University in a place where other suitable baboon troops were known to be. As a result of previous management efforts, some troops had little to no males present – so it would have been ideal for Bart to integrate with. Unfortunately because of the radical change in environment, it is believed that Bart could not adapt to his new surroundings, finding it difficult to forage in the unfamiliar ecosystem. Coming from Tokai where his diet would have consisted of pine nuts, vines and grass, Bart was greeted by Fynbos – which is the indigenous vegetation in Cape Point. It is likely that Bart will have never eaten Fynbos in his life, and because of the difficult nature of acquiring the edible seeds, it is expected he would have been starving. As a result he moved out of the forest and into Simons Town. This is believed to be where he learned to raid bins, cars and shopping bags. However he did not stay long, and soon returned home to Tokai forest. Sadly Bart had acquired a preference for people; their company and their food, and was soon back at the University campus. Everybody knows Bart – he sleeps in the pine trees just above campus, has never attacked anyone and travels from bin to bin foraging most days. Because of his popularity, Bart’s case has become incredibly unique. His fame has undoubtedly affected the time scale of his ultimate date for removal, however the decision has definitely been made, and in the coming days Bart the baboon will be euthanized. While Bart’s story is terribly sad, his plight has helped raise awareness of the baboon problem on the Cape, and with the uproar following the decision to euthanize Bart, other management options will undoubtedly be explored – hopefully leading to an ethical and appropriate solution for the baboons here on the peninsula. Continue...

Read More