23 oktober 2011

 

Meeting in Azrou to create a conservation strategy for the Barbary macaque in Morocco

On 12 and 13 October, MPC and the Haut Comissariat aux Eaux et Forêts (E&F) organised a meeting to create a conservation strategy for the Barbary macaque in Morocco. We were very honored to work together with E&F on this and we feel that together we have reached a very important point for the conservation of the Barbary macaque.

One of the reasons why this meeting was also of high importance was, that E&F now feel that they have become the owner of Barbary macaque conservation in their country. Until now, many individuals and NGOs/ universities were working in Morocco on but E&F often did not know who was doing what or even did not know the people in the field.

We had around 35 participants, both international and national, who spent 1,5 days in the Ifrane National Park (PNI) headquarters creating a strategy to conserve this unique species. The participants were: SPANA, AESVT, University of Rennes/ Roehampton/ Lincoln/ Meknes/ Fes, BMCRif, Montagne des Singes, Fabrice Cuzin, IFAW, AAP, Institut Scientifique (+GEA), Ifrane National Park, Centre de Recherche Forestière, HCEFLCD and the regional and provincial departments of E&F and MPC.

We are very pleased with the participation of all these people. Everybody was very committed and their expertise was extremely valuable to come to a strategy for the conservation of the BM.

The presentations held by Nelly Ménard (Middle Atlas population), Sian Waters (Rif population), Prof Mouna (Conservation issues) and myself (illegal trade), created a basis for this meeting, with additional information about the High Atlas population (Fabrice Cusin). There was good and bad news. Sian Water’s presentation showed that the BM population in the Rif is doing much better than initially was thought to be. There are still quite a large number of BM in the wild in the north of Morocco and the conservation issues seem much less apparent in the north. This was great news of course.

Nelly Ménard’s presentation however turned out to be very shocking for all of us. Nelly spent 3 years in PNI studying the population in the Middle Atlas and her data confirm the large decline in this population. But what was even more shocking was the disappearance of all the juveniles, infants and a lot of females in one of her focal groups. Her data prove what I have been claiming for a long time: that the illegal poaching in this region is one of the main causes for the decline of this species, and that fighting this illegal trade is one of the most important short term actions that should be taken.

Fabrice Cuzin’s research has shown that also the small fragmented populations in the High Atlas are threatened by human impact and need higher protection to be able to survive in this region.

Although we did not have enough time to reach a clear conservation strategy together, we agreed on a method to proceed soon and have this action plan ready by the end of 2011. I am personally very happy with the outcome and I think we are all together convinced and ready to work hard on saving this species from declining further or even disappearing in the future. Thank you Montagne des Singes/ Affenberg Salem/ Rocamadour and Trentham Forest for funding this meeting!

MPC does need financial help to be involved in this all. If you are interested to support us in our work, please visit: www.mpcfoundation.nl and become a member or do a one off donation. We need your help! Thank you very much in advance!!

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