Conservation in a vacuum

14 May, 2013 § Leave a comment

When we went out to Morocco, Sian asked us to find some Vitamin E oil or similar for reducing scarring. This was for a young girl in the village of Lahcen where they work who had had some hot oil splashed on her face and hand the previous week. The woman had approached Sian and Ahmed to help and of course they rushed her to hospital and made sure that she was admitted and got the right treatment. Sian wanted to make sure that the girl had the minimum scarring from the incident, especially since the wound was on her face.

The whole affair made me think about in situ conservation projects and their interaction with the local people. I think all too frequently conservation projects focus on the animals or the habitats without considering the impact on the local people. Without building a positive relationship with the people whose lives are impacted by both the wildlife and the efforts to protect it I feel success is limited. While we were driving around with Sian and Ahmed we often picked up shepherds and school kids and families and gave them a lift to wherever they were going. We stopped to talk to everyone and everyone recognised the monkey bus and waved. Without this kind of relationship with the people how much success can conservation achieve?

I found it incredibly inspiring to see the respect and affection that the project has for the people and the people for the project. I look forward to having a chance to work with BMCRif in the future.

This is the view from the BMCRif house in Lahcen in the morning!

Talk Tonight at Oxford Brookes

5 November, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hello monkeys,

A long silence due to us taking a little break for personal reasons but we are back up and running now! Firstly an event. If anyone is around the Oxford area and wants to hear me talking a little about what MASC is and how it was set up then come to Oxford Brookes, Gypsy Lane Campus, Room something! I seem unable to find out which it is. If you are interested turn up at quarter to six and ask for the Monkey Monday or the Monday night seminar series. There should be people around to point the way!


Monkey hugs

Don’t tar me with that brush

30 July, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am a conservationist, I am an animal lover and a vegetarian. These three things mean that people who aren’t often take an aggressive tack with me and I always make an effort to remain calm and positive. Then from time to time I meet/see/hear of people who ‘share’ my ideals but are very different in their approach to others who do not.

I don’t eat meat but have no problem with the fact that other people do, particularly if they make sure their meat comes from ethical sources. I am emotionally resilient enough to cope with the fact that animals that I find beautiful and charming in life are someone’s food source.

Everyone has to live by their own feeling of what is right. I have no right to judge anyone else’s decision of what constitutes right or wrong. I would rather vintage fur was worn to get the most use out of it than thrown away or have red paint poured on it.

What’s more I think that most people who fall into any of the three labels that I mentioned at the beginning do not judge those who do not. There are those who shout louder than the rest of us who hold beliefs that are just as abhorrent as they find the lack of respect for animals. These are the people that flash into a stranger’s mind when I say I am vegetarian. People worry what they can say to me and whether I mind if they eat meat or wear leather. I am realistic – I am white, middle class, leftie and female. It is a luxury to chose to buy products that are ethical. One that I couldn’t afford in a different situation.

So basically I am very lucky to be able to be thinking about what makes me comfortable ethically when other people are wondering what is going to feed their families whether that is bush-meat or taking a wild animal and selling it to someone as a pet.

Thoughtful monkey hugs

Home again, home again jiggedy jog

18 January, 2012 § Leave a comment

We have two more days in Ireland and with a trustees’ meeting on the next day I am trying to get ready a little before we fly. My body may still be in the Emerald Isle but my mind is home busying itself with preparations.

We have a meeting and then some intense work on fundraising and organising for the New Year. At some point we have to fit in some promotion and website maintenance, well I am sure we will find time.

Aoife’s PhD starts next week and I am getting increasingly nervous about it. She seems as solid as a rock and I have every faith in her ability, just getting butterflies in my stomach.

Well I hope everyone else is having as busy and productive beginning of the year as we are. All the changes are due in the next few months. Then hopefully we will all be settled into a new way of life!

Thoughtful monkey hugs

Over for the year

4 November, 2011 § Leave a comment


There has been a very long gap in posts because we were putting together the most recent lots of shows at Beale Park, then doing them, then recovering from them!

They were received very well though we could have wished for a few more in the audiences on some of the days. We have had a great time with Beale Park this year and are looking forward to working with them again in February when they re-open for the season.

We are now taking a bit of a break. I am giving a lecture at Oxford Brookes to the new cohort of the course that Aoife and I did in 2009/10 and that Marie (another trustee) did a couple of years beforehand and Susan (yet another trustee) teaches on currently. I am a little more nervous than it warrants but I am hoping to be able to sound professional.

Monkey love to one and all and if you give me a few more days to recover I will blog more coherently!

Pesky pest vervets… and the role of sanctuaries in conservation

9 October, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m writing a couple of papers on vervets at the moment. One is on arrivals data from a vervet sanctuary I used to live at in South Africa (Vervet Monkey Foundation). The other is an attempt at a compilation of vervet crop-raiding data. I’ve got a few thoughts on these two topics.

One Рsanctuaries seem to have been relegated to a welfare issue, on the fringe of conservation. Sanctuaries are on the front line of conservation efforts. Their inclusion in a holistic approach to species protection seems obvious. Their potential for education outreach, on top of the rehabilitation and sanctuary they provide, is something to be harnessed. They have valuable information on threats in local areas, if databases are kept and updated. They would make good bases for researching local wild populations. Some things to think about.

Two – crop raiding vervets are irritating! Primates are too intellegent for any barrier methods to work and vervets are too bloody annoying to go away and too much of a pack of generelists to say no to pretty much any crop! Oh and I am surprised at the lack of crop-raiding studies from South Africa. I’ll see what I think about this when I’m finished it. Right now I’m at a impasse…

There are some monkey thoughts for now.

Irritating to farmers and tourist spots, yes. Beautiful and in need of some help – definitely.

Monkey hugs!

Next step, charity status!

12 September, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sorry for the break in blogging. Really busy with finishing the dissertation. Hopefully the next posts will be about MASC becoming a charity. Positive thoughts to all those who are making small steps to cutting out palm oil.

Monkey hugs

Gotta sing, gotta dance

5 September, 2010 § Leave a comment

Just got off a 14 hour shift at the theatre. Feeling a little like a train has hit me but I am determined to finish off the last couple of bits on my project tonight. The show was a melange of excerpts of musical theatre. It was pretty good for what it was and was particularly hectic because one of the cast was off sick so no one had a clue what they were doing and the director was in! All fun and games, but the show went on as it always does in these situations.

I also got 3 free cakes, 2 free flapjacks and 3 free cookies, probably they contain palm oil but I would rather eat them than throw them in the bin

Sleepy monkey hugs

Thank you Dr Takem

3 September, 2010 § Leave a comment

My long-awaited book from John Tiku Takem arrived today with a beautiful message in it which I found inspiring and supportive, especially from a man who I have never met and probably never will. He studies theatre in environmental education in Cameroon.

Thank you John

Under 15,000

1 September, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am now under the word limit! All there is left to be done is a couple of photos and sorting out admin stuff. Looks like I will be able to hand it in next Tuesday. Hoorah

Monkey hugs

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