Monday, 6 April 2009

Year of the Gorilla 2 - Bristol Zoo efforts

Since 1997, Bristol Zoo has been working with the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Foundation (now renamed Ape Action Africa) which has a base at Mvog-Betsi zoo in Yaounde, and now also administers a sanctuary at Mefou National Park. Working with the Cameroon government, Bristol supports the activities of AAA by advising local members and providing veterinary support and training. Bristol has always majored on education for local children, and we are supporting educational activities out in Cameroon.

AAA currently cares for several chimpanzees and gorillas orphaned by the bush meat trade. This is unfortunately widespread, and contrary to what may be thought it is not a subsistence level trade – gorilla meat is very expensive and poorly paid drivers of logging companies find bushmeat an easy way to earn cash.

As a result of this, AAA received numerous orphan primates. At Mefou and at Yaounde these are cared for and hopefully rehabilitated. The problem however with releasing any of the apes in particular is that they are not afraid of people and so are at grave risk of being killed if released outside a protected area. In addition, they have all been exposed to, and are potentially carriers of, human diseases that could prove very dangerous to wild gorilla or chimpanzee populations. The best strategy therefore for orphans is therefore a semi-natural situation as at Mefou.

AAA has a volunteer scheme as part of its fund raising activities. Volunteers can work out at Mefou or Yaounde provided they fund themselves and are prepared to spend sufficient time there. Details are on the AAA link on this blog.

(Images from CWAF/AAA website)

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