Caring for a Baby Gorilla

Posted By on Nov 5, 2013

  Looking after a baby gorilla isn’t easy, especially if you’re a human. Someone who knows this all too well is Appolinaire Ndohoudou, Controller at Ape Action Africa’s sanctuary in Mefou, Cameroon. Having worked here for 11 years, Appolinaire has been surrogate father for many of the gorillas here, including possibly the best known of the sanctuary’s residents, Shufai. Shufai’s story is one that exemplifies the challenges and heartaches inherent in taking a traumatised and injured gorilla far too young to have been separated from its mother, nursing it back to health, and maintaining it to – and through – adulthood. Shufai was only a few months old when he arrived at the sanctuary in, bearing both mental and physical scars from his mother’s death. With bullets lodged in his head and left arm, and an intense fear of humans, he spent his first few days at the sanctuary hiding in a transport cage, while Appolinaire waited patiently in the same room, feeding him through the bars of the cage door and biding his time until he had gained enough of Shufai’s trust to be able to pick him up and assess his injuries. As Shufai grew, it became apparent that the damage to his arm would continue to be a problem. Curving inwards and becoming increasingly painful, he was virtually unable to use his arm, so an operation was carried out to insert metal pins and try to straighten it. Though initially a success, by early 2013 it was clear that Shufai was still experiencing a lot of pain, so a further operation was scheduled to reposition the pins. When the veterinary team X-rayed and examined his arm under anaesthetic, they realised it was now beyond saving, and made the difficult decision to amputate the lower half of his arm to give him the best chance at a pain-free life. Eight months later, we have been lucky enough to witness Shufai climbing trees – something he was never able to do prior to the operation – playing with other members of his group, and lounging happily in the shade to contemplate the selection of food scattered around him. Appolinaire, visibly moved when remembering the anxious days around the operation, is delighted with the progress Shufai has made since March, happy to see him eating, running and interacting normally with the rest of his group. The future for Shufai at Ape Action Africa now looks bright; he is not expected to need any further treatments or medication relating to his arm surgeries, and will remain in safe, forested surroundings at the sanctuary. The future for gorillas in the wild...

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Oliver Upton, 5 Years Later

Posted By on Oct 29, 2013

Ollie has arrived in the Cameroon jungle ready to start another handshake having been a volunteer at the very first handshake in South Africa 5 years ago. He has always said that if a short trip came up involving gorillas he would like to be involved. Ollie works in television as a researcher but has become more and more interested in the filming side of things and has completed a wildlife filming course this year. He would like to pursue this interest particularly looking in to filming gorillas with a firm conservation message behind it . The interests in the natural world started whilst at university where Ollie wanted to explore the connection between humans and nature using film. He first heard about the handshake at a talk on a wet, foggy day in Aberyswth and was instantly intrigued by the charities vision and now on his second trip this is unlikely to be his last. Ollie describes the sanctuary as ‘the proper jungle,’ full of life and not just some zoo or a park. The 5km drive in off the beaten track immediately set the scene as the truck precariously negotiated the craters in the road. Well travelled and fresh from a trip to Peru Ollie is admittedly quite tired but being ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and surrounded by the hum of the forest is an instant refresher. Ollie recognises the luxuries we have at home compared to here with no internet, showering with a cup of water and sipping a good cup of English breakfast tea but these are all things you forget in the splendour of Mefou National...

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New Ways to Handshake

Posted By on Aug 1, 2013

New Look site Launched On our 5th birthday we’re proud to unveil our new look site and tell you how we’re evolving. DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE is designed to showcase the best of what we offer, be that our award winning production services or our flagship volunteer projects. We’ve worked hard to simplify our navigation and bring some of our best content to the fore for you to sample. You’ll also notice that our volunteer projects have grown and alongside the famous Great Primate Handshake we have new titles, Reforestation Handshake and Wildlife Handshake. You’ll have noticed, over the years we’ve expanded our remit to work with other deserving projects and we felt that these project should be reflected in name and programme. We have a strong commitment to all of the projects (and primates) we have worked with in the past and the Great Primate Handshake is continuing with projects already live for both 2013 & 2014. Take a look around our site now and let us know what you think in the comments – keep checking back as we expand our online archives of videos and...

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A visit to the Colobus Trust

Posted By on Jul 22, 2012

Hand rearing any animal is a tough job so when we found out about baby Betsy – the longest surviving Black and White Angolan Colobus monkey to be hand reared – we were excited to be given the opportunity to visit Betsy and her handler, Andrea. We were asked to create a follow on documentary to reflect on the progress that Betsy has made during her time at the Colobus Trust. Betsy was taken in by Andrea and her partner, Keith when she was just 9 days old when unfortunately her mother could not be found. Baby Betsy was abandoned several times by various Black and White Angolan Colobus troops; in the end the staff of Colobus Trust had to intervene in order to save her life. Since Andrea and Keith took over the job of hand rearing Betsy they have overcome many difficulties. Due to Betsy’s age and her unique and unfortunate experience, alongside her  demanding dietary requirements, bringing her up has been no easy task. Firstly we met up with Andrea, whom we would be recording an interview with, in the office along with Betsy – whom we quickly found out was quite the character when meeting new people! The filming equipment appeared to be her favourite! Andrea told us about Betsy’s latest situation, as well as all the stories and information she had about the past 18 months.  The interview was interrupted a few times by Betsy, it appeared that the only method to calm down her energetic mind is a little treat from her handler every now and then. Apart from interviewing Andrea, our other task was to capture as many clips of Betsy’s activity as possible. When she jumped from one tree branch to another, her playfulness attracted some of the other monkeys that belong to the home troop around where the Colobus Trust is based. This is where someday in the future Andrea hopes to release Betsy into the wild. Group leader Emily seemed to be Betsy’s favourite new friend; more than one time Betsy jumped on her shoulders and showed an interest in her camera. This made Emily’s work a little more difficult but at the same time very interesting. For all of us, the making of this documentary was a rare and precious opportunity. Not only because as crew we got a chance to see a Colobus monkey in a close distance, but also that our production aims to raise more awareness of both Betsy and the rest of the amazing work that the Colobus Trust continues to do. Update – October 2012: The documentary is now available on our YouTube...

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This post is being written from Mombasa, Kenya, where the Handshake staff and volunteers have spent the last few days completing orientation activities, getting used to life on the truck, and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The whole team met for the first time on the morning of the 17th of July, and quickly got to work putting up tents, learning about Handshake life, and throwing themselves in to team building games. With activities ranging from making a monkey out of recycled materials found around the camp site, to talks about primate conservation and lessons on the different types of technology used on the expedition, everyone has been busy, and we’re all enjoying learning from each other. We set off for our first work location in Diani Beach early tomorrow morning, so will soon have lots of content to share with you from the field. We look forward to your questions and comments as the expedition...

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Update: Thank you to everyone who voted for Alasdair and Laurence to win a 2010 Digital Hero award. It is with great delight that we can announce that they scooped the Regional Award! The Primate Handshake will be awarded £5000 towards its primate conservation expeditions and projects across Africa. With such a fantastic award fund, both Directors are thankful to the Handshake’s supporters and are looking forward to the new possibilities ahead thanks to the boost in funds. — It is with great delight to annouce that the Primate Handshake’s two Directors (Alasdair Davies & Laurence Hall) have been nominated to receive a Digtal Hero award 2010, sponsored by Talk Talk and the Daily Mirror. This exciting award is presented to outstanding individuals, working within UK community groups or charities, who are using the power of digital technology to implement bright ideas which bring about positive social change. Vote for Alasdair and Laurence now Having led the last three year’s Great Primate Handshake Expeditions to South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, both Alasdair and Laurence are delighted to have been nominated. By directing and producing numerous short digital videos together with expedition volunteers and African local communities, and by hosting live internet link-ups with remote communities in Kenya and school children in Wales, their nomination supports the Great Primate Handshake’s commitment to conservation and it’s mission in utilizing digital media to raise awareness of primate conservation activites. The winning nominated heros from 12 regions across the UK will receive a £5,000 grant to assit their work, with the overall winManer winning an amazing £10,000 grant! You can vote for the Alasdair and Laurence to win a Digital Hero award here. Your vote will ensure that the Great Primate Handshake does even more to raise awareness of threatened and endangered primates by sharing digital media skills with local communities. More information about the Digital Hero award 2010 can be found...

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