22 March 2017
Not one, but three good news stories from our colleagues at GRI- ZPP. Zambia Primate Project have had a busy few days! First off, our troop of rescued vervet monkeys are free at last. All victims of the illegal bush meat and pet trades in Zambia, they are looking fit and healthy back in the bush at our release site in Kafue National Park. They are being monitored daily by our dedicated team of field researchers - Caribou, Dalliso and Matthews, to support them in their transition back to a truly wild life after, for some, years on the end of a short chain at the hands of humans. How good it must feel to be free at last!
Another successful rescue and another life-saved by GRI-ZPP in the Copperbelt, a hotspot area for the illegal trade in primates in Zambia. An eight-month old male monkey, whom we have named Kazia, was confiscated from a compound in Lufwanyama district last week. He had been in captivity on the end of a short rope for six months, having been taken from the wild and sold as a pet when his mother was killed for bushmeat. The rope was so tight that it had become embedded into his flesh as he grew and was preventing him from passing feceas easily. Lucky Kazia is now being cared for and rehabilitated back to good health. One day he will be ready for release back to the wild as part of a social troop with other rescued monkeys.
We’re also hard at work changing hearts and minds in Zambia. On Friday there was a groundbreaking workshop for teachers in the Copperbelt when GRI-ZPP launched its Primate Protection Education programme in Ndola in partnership with GRI's Community Outreach and Education team. It was a brilliant day with 25 teachers trained as Primate Protection Ambassadors. The teachers committed to each training one other teacher from a neighbouring school and educating their pupils and communities about why we should together protect primates and not take them from the wild and keep them as pets. In the next few months, these 50 ambassadors will deliver a primate-specific conservation curriculum to over 1,000 Zambian schoolchildren and each teacher has been equipped with the teaching resources to do this.
It was so wonderful to share our passion for primates with these teachers (see picture). We hope they are now as passionate as we are about spreading the word. So that in this hotspot area of illegal primate trade, things will change and we will see less primates being kept illegally as pets on the end of short chains. We would like to say a BIG thank you to the Born Free Foundation for its Global Friends grant to GRI-ZPP that enabled us to launch this programme. Also to Simba International School in Ndola for hosting the workshop and being so supportive in getting this first workshop off the ground. We hope to now take this programme to teachers in other hotspot areas in Zambia to help save and protect more of our beloved primates.