How to do joined-up conservation

Published: January 12, 2017

monkeyWe call it holistic conservation, or joined-up conservation. It’s when the animals at our zoos and our fieldwork on the ground tie together to form a single logical thread.

The two of us recently travelled to Indonesia to visit our Selamatkan Yaki project, which works with Critically Endangered Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra). The species can be seen at both Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo; in addition, Holly coordinates a key conservation programme for the species in European zoos. Selamatkan Yaki means “Save the Sulawesi macaque”.

We went out to help organise and attend the second Species Action Plan workshop for Macaca nigra at which we gave a talk on the role of zoos in macaque conservation. We also went to generally catch up with Selamatkan Yaki and their projects and meet with various partners.

We attended the last day of school visits by the Selamatkan Yaki education team as they completed their Yaki Pride campaign in southern Minahasa – they have involved 34 schools in all. We also went to Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, which is home to around 60 Macaca nigra rescued from the pet trade, and to Tangkoko Nature Reserve to see wild macaques and other species.

We want to link the role of the European zoo population into the wider aims for conserving the species in the wild. As the European Endangered species Programme Coordinator for Macaca nigra, Holly is in a great position to do that.

The important thing is the link we as a conservation charity make between the management of zoo populations and conservation efforts in the wild. People can see this species in our zoos and learn about the way we are leading conservation efforts in their native range. It’s joined-up conservation.

The trip went smoothly. Indonesia is a relatively modern part of the world and the team out there really took care of us, but it takes a long time to get there – about 24 hours door-to-door. We had a few tropical downpours with lightning and the forest was full of mosquitos and leeches! The highlight for Holly was seeing macaques in the wild for the first time.

Our project in Sulawesi is a great example of holistic conservation – we have a strong team on the ground working with local people in many different ways to reduce the threats to this species. Harry Hilser, the Field Programme Manager, and his team work really hard and do a fantastic job. This team is supported technically and financially by zoos back in Europe which keep macaques, including Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo and many others.

Dr Holly Farmer and Dr Andrew Bowkett

Sulawesi conservation trip