Chief Executive’s Blog
October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
I have recently returned from a trip to the Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) in Uganda, where we are celebrating a double anniversary: it is the 25th anniversary of the start of the conservation project in the Budongo Forest and it is the tenth anniversary of RZSS’s involvement with BCFS.
This was my first visit to the station in Uganda and it was remarkable to be able to witness the work of BCFS in the forest. For those of you who are unfamiliar with BCFS, it is a conservation project – of which RZSS is the core funder – which blends research and conservation to ensure sustainable management and utilisation of the Budongo Forest Reserve and all its wildlife. The station conducts world-class scientific research on the chimpanzees which inhabit the Budongo Forest and welcomes scientists, students and researchers from around the world. The research and activities at BCFS support policy development, conservation action and sustainable resource management.
I spent a week at the research station with RZSS Head of Conservation Programmes Sarah Robinson and Director of BCFS Fred Babweteera, who showed us around the station as well as some of the other communities and projects which BCFS supports, such as local communities and schools. It was also wonderful to be able to witness the chimpanzees in their natural habitat in the Budongo Forest; some of the chimpanzees even strolled through the camp.
I am also very pleased to announce that HRH The Princess Royal, the Society’s Royal Patron, delivered a talk as part of the Tribal Elders: Words of Wisdom series at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo on the evening of Thursday 15 October. The Tribal Elders talk, entitled “Committed to conservation: you can make a difference”, was a sell-out event and as a thank you for her support as Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal was presented with a gift of a handmade silver hair comb adorned with an intricately crafted greater one-horned rhino; created by RZSS Silversmith in Residence Bryony Knox. The gift was presented on a tray, handcrafted especially for The Princess Royal by residents of the local community in Budongo, Uganda.
And finally, in news from our other conservation projects, this week Neahga Leonard visited the Conservation Team at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo to talk about the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project. The Cat Ba Langur or Golden-headed langur is endemic to the islands of Ca Ba in Northern Vietnam. Numbers were reduced to less than 100 individuals, largely as a result of poaching and for over a decade, Münster Zoo, the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and Vietnamese conservation agencies have been collaborating to bring the poaching of langurs under control. As the project manager based in the Cat Ba national park, Neahga talked about some of the challenges being faced, milestones and future missions of the project going forward.
Our Giant Armadillo Conservation Project team in the Pantanal have been busy including the surrounding community in their search for giant armadillos. Distribution of posters and pamphlets throughout the local communities as well as taking education tools into to schools continues to support their efforts and help people recognise signs of Giant Armadillos in the area. There is also the potential to expand the outreach programme into 100 more schools in 2016 which is a very exciting prospect which will further help educate and engage the younger generation with the conservation of this important species.
“Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.”
– Jane Goodall