Posts Tagged ‘monkey conservation’

Gosh time flies doesn’t it!

So as you probably noticed this blog just tailed off in to nowhere last summer! Well don’t worry – I did make it out to the monkeys and I made it back too! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to update the blog from the field site though as the signal just wasn’t strong enough. I had so much I wanted to tell you all and thought I’d write all about it when I got back but… well.. suddenly it’s May and I haven’t! Oh dear! 🙂

But some exciting things have been happening. I’m delighted to be involved with the fantastic new project – Wildlife Aid Education. It’s a completely free, easy-to-access, curriculum-based teaching and learning resource for teachers, parents and children, provided by The Wildlife Aid Foundation. Check it out here and watch this space for more info in the not too distant future!



I also had the pleasure about a month ago of being asked to visit a local primary school and talk about my work with the monkeys. I was asked by one of the mum’s  to come and speak to the year 6 classes, as they were in the midst of a project all about Rainforests. She thought some first hand tales of the rainforest might inspire them. I jumped at the chance!

So just before the end of last term I headed down with my laptop in tow and talked to a load of  ten – eleven year olds all about what I do.


I had such fun and the children were amazing. So well behaved, articulate, enthusiastic and interested. They patiently listened to my tales of monkeys and forests, and gruesome details about the spiky plants, painful insect bites and  toilet and shower facilities out there (or lack of!!) .


They came up with some brilliant questions – including the obvious ones about what the most DANGEROUS animal I’d come in to contact in the forest was! 🙂 But also some really insightful questions and comments about conservation and wildlife.  It’s thoroughly restored my faith in the younger generation.


I talked to them about how I got in to this wildlife malarkey and how they can start doing things locally if that is what they are interested in.  A few of them came up to me afterwards and said they wanted to work in conservation and wildlife so I hope I was able to inspire them. They wrote a very sweet overview of the session in their newsletter too.

Newsletter 03-04-14_002

I’m looking forward  to doing more of this – it’s so lovely to talk about what I do to such an interested and enthusiastic audience. So watch this space!




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Every one assumes that monkeys or apes coming in to farmers’ fields and taking crops is automatically a bad thing.. but my research in Indonesia has thrown up some interesting perspectives on crop raiding from local farmers and it looks like it’s happening in other parts of the world too.

On the island of Buton farmers often tell me that they are happy when the monkeys raid their cashew crops – why? Because it means they don’t have to climb up the trees to harvest the nuts themselves. When the monkeys raid the trees they only take the fruit. The nut is held in a little capsule beneath the fruit so when the monkeys remove the fruit to eat it they discard the nut in it’s case. It then falls to the ground and can be collected by the farmers. All the farmers need to do is keep the area beneath the trees clear from too many shrubs and weeds and then they can simply scoop up the nuts, saving hours. The nuts are protected so are not damaged in the process. It’s a win-win situation! Monkeys get food, farmers get free labour!

Read more about the Buton macaques in one of my posts from when I was out in Indonesia this summer  here:  “Nuts to the monkeys”

Some work over in Guinea-Bissau has shown a similar pattern with Chimps. In a similar way to the Buton macaque, the chimps only raid the fruit, leaving the nut for the farmers to harvest, in fact reportedly the chimps actually pile the nuts – which makes it even easier still!

Just goes to show how humans and wildlife can co-exist in even the most unlikely of scenarios!

The full article is here:

 Kimberley J. Hockings and Claudia Sousa (2012). Differential utilization of cashew—a low-conflict crop—by sympatric humans and chimpanzees. Oryx, 46

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What do these:

and these have in common?

Well that is what my students found out today!

It’s getting towards the end of semester. Exams are coming up, coursework’s been handed in and people are knackered! My students had an in -class exam today, followed by a lecture so I thought for the group-work bit of the class I’d do something a little more fun.

The tragedy of the commons is a key bit of theory my students need to know, but it can be a little bit dry and the original paper is one you really have to wade through. In summary what it  is basically talking about is situations where you have a resource (e.g. a lake full of fish) that people have access to. One researcher, Hardin proposed in 1968 that in such situations people will always use the resource for short term gains, NOT long term sustainability. By this I mean they will take as many fish as they can now, rather than leaving some in the lake to reproduce for next year. He proposed that users of these types of “open access resources” (i.e. resources anyone can access), tend not to establish rules about how to use the resource and as such it will end up being depleted – this is the tragedy of the commons.

In contrast another group of researchers, Ostrom et al, in 1999, proposed that in situations like this the resource is never truly open access and that in fact there will be rules and regulations about who can use the resource and how. It recognises that one person’s actions will impact on other people’s. So in the lake example – you might have  a village of fishermen and it may be that only the older men are permitted to fish, and only in certain months. These resources are in effect communally owned which is why the rules exist.

So in order to get my students thinking about this, and to have some fun, we did a little bit of group work. They were divided into groups of 4 or 5. Each group represents a village of fishermen. Each village has a lake within which are enough fish for 4 per person (or smarties in this case!). If they go fishing and catch only 1 fish their family will starve. If they catch 2 their family will have enough food to survive until next year. I however they take 3 or 4 fish they can sell the surplus for money.

In the first round no one is allowed to communicate, so each “fisherman or woman” is acting indepently. The fishing season opens and in year one they are allowed to take 0 – 4 fish – it’s up to them how many they choose.

At the end of the first year of fishing we see how many fish (smarties!) are left in the lake. The fish then reproduce – so if there were 4 left they each reproduce resulting in 8 (hence the big bag of smarties!). Then the second year of fishing begins and once again they can take as many fish as they want to (up to 4).

This continues year by year until there are no fish in the lake.

Now the first time around, remember no one is allowed to talk to each other, so they’re all acting for themselves. What they very quickly find out is that the fish run out! In today’s example  – one group only had 2 years fishing before the lake was left with no fish, the other groups only got 3 years. Meanwhile some fishermen had starved and others had grown fat on the profit of excess fish sales. This is an example of the tragedy of the commons – people tend to act more selfishly which results in not only depletion of the resource but also social inequalities.

So in the next round they are now allowed to communicate and decide as a community how they want to operate the fishing and what people will be allowed to take. So the fishing starts again – back at year 1, but this time it takes a bit longer as everyone discusses how many fish to take….

After year 1 the fish reproduce again and we move to year 2 etc. Interestingly this time around everyone takes only 2 fish. So no one starves, and no one benefits from extra money from selling fish. As a result they can continue to fish well into year 5, 6, 7, etc (until I run out of smarties!) because the lake is now sustainable. They are taking enough fish to feed themselves but not so much that the populations is depleted. And of course there are no social inequalities – everyone is getting the same.

So as a result all the villages keep on fishing, every year – well until the very last year.. when they know it’s the end and all dive in for the smarties!

So this demonstrates Ostrom et al’s idea of common property resources. Everyone has access to the resource but they all have a stake in wanting that resource to be maintained. They’ve all seen the consequences of acting selfishly (they all starved after 3 years), so rules come in to play – only 2 fish can be taken by each person.

Now this was a bit of fun for the students, a chance to have a bit of a less intense class (and have some chocolate) but it does very nicely demonstrate the principles of these theories. So what? Well let’s have a think about this and how it might impact on us – the most obvious example that springs to mind is the North Sea Fisheries. There we have a potential open access resource which, aside from close to national coastlines, is basically a big free for all. One country takes all it can of one species, whilst others try to get more for their own country etc and what do we end up with? Massively depleted fish stocks. Now of course in national waters there are quotas and rules introduced (just like in round 2 of the exercise) which help to control fish stocks and try to maintain them…

This can be applied to a whole variety of conservation scenarios (and economic ones) and is a really important thing to consider when trying to manage resources and local people. The assumption that people will act altruistically when given the chance is generally wrong – most people tend to go for looking after themselves and their family in the here and now.

Anyway – something to think about and the students certainly seemed to enjoy it!

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Once again I was teaching my class about the bushmeat trade today. To follow on from the lecture about the bushmeat trade two weeks ago we had a groupwork session on it today. This is another great session as it’s a bit different and a bit of fun but really gets students thinking about the real-life issues that face people dealing with the bushmeat issue. In small groups they have to work together on a scenario. They have to agree how they will deal with the opening up of a new logging consession a fictional government want to open up. Each person represents a different stakeholder e.g. villagers, traders, the logging company, conservationists and the government. They have to work together to think about all the potential issues and conflicts and then come up with workable solutions to try to minimise the conflict for all stakeholders. I get them to draw up their plans on big sheets of paper. Once again it always stimulates lots of discussion and this year was no excpetion. They came up with some pretty interesting options too.

Finding solutions to the bushmeat trade problem is critical. Although habitat destruction is often hailed as the biggest threat to wildlife, hunting of wildlife for meat has become the most significant, immediate threat to wildlife conservation around the world. There have already been local extinctions of species in West Africa and parts of Asia. Many people view this as a crisis, particularly as hunting is now occurring in regions where it wasn’t previously widespread, mainly due to increased commercial logging. Logging opens up forests through the creation of roads and transport links which enable hunters to get their catches to markets from areas they weren’t previously able to reach. It isn’t just wildlife that suffers, it also threatens the livelihod of indigenous populations who traditionally relied on small-scale hunting and gathering for food. Commercial hunting is on a much larger scale and takes this resource away from these people. In addition there’s increasing evidence that the sipread of certain diseases such as Ebola and foot and mouth disease are linked to bushsmeat consumption. It’s therefore critical that conservation and development groups can come up with solutions to this problem. Many organisations, including WWF and the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force are working on this.
This is why I get my students to think about this and to think about it in terms of the real-life conflicts it produces. Here’s what they came up with:

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I left the uk on Saturday 14th, back off out to Indonesia and the project


After 24 hrs of traveling I arrived in Jakarta, checked in to the Hotel Paragon in central Jakarta, then headed out for some food.



First thing this morning morning the fun began – the permit process started today! First I had to report to the Ministry Of Research and Technology to get my research visa



After a few hours of sitting about I got some of the letters I needed and headed off to the police headquarters and the Ministry of Internal affairs where there was a bit more of this:


Unfortunately they all finish work at 3pm so that’s as far as I got….

Tomorrow it’s back on the permit trail again!

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The Grand Raffle Draw took place Thursday morning at the Pavilion cafe. Tickets were drawn by the Pavilion’s manager Christine Hamilton in front of a packed crowd (well ok, not exactly packed but there were a few people there – thank you Niky, Anshu, Natacha and Preeya 😉 ).


The winners are:

1. Ipod Shuffle – orange ticket 45 Emma Barry
2. Cricket bat signed by Cricketer Ian Bell – orange ticket John McElroy
3. Head, Back and Shoulder Massage from Tranquil Harmony – green ticket 133 Helen Jayne
4. 10 Handmade fairtrade chocolate lollies from cloud cocoland – orange ticket 188 Louise Hill
5. £25 National Garden voucher – green ticket 313 Sue Lund
6. £40 Waterstones Voucher – green ticket 103Karen Woolton
7. £10 Body Shop – green ticket 209 Debs Wallis
8. Bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne – green ticket 293 Stella Barham
9. 2 week free membership of the Pavilion Club – green ticket 72 Robyn Palmer
10. Bottle of Moet Champagne – orange ticket 190 Jo Sykes

Thank you so much to everyone who bought tickets, to the Pavilion for all their support and to Sara Smith from Tranquil Harmony and Trish Hawkins from Cloud Cocoland for the prize donations. Finally, congratulations to the winners. I will arrange with you about how best to get your prizes to you!

I’ll be updating this site with my final fundraising amount in the next few days once I’ve counted it all up 🙂

Thank you!


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Buy a raffle ticket and help me save the buton macaque!!

I’m still running the raffle to raise the final bit of funds I need for the project this summer. So if you haven’t already then please buy some raffle tickets and help me save the buton macaque 🙂 The draw will be on 7th June so there’s still time to get some tickets!

You could win one of these amazing prizes!

  • Ipod Shuffle
  • Adidas Cricket Bat signed by England cricketer Ian Bell
  • Head, back and shoulder massage from Sara at Tranquil Harmony (www.tranquilharmony.co.uk)
  • 10 handmade, fairtrade chocolate lollies from cloud cocoland (http://www.cloud-cocoland-chocolate.co.uk/)
  • £25 National Garden voucher
  • £40 Waterstones voucher
  • £10 Bodyshop voucher
  • A bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne
  • A bottle of Moet champagne
  • 2 week free membership of the Pavilion Club

What your support will achieve:

  • £5 – chilli seeds for 5 farmers to plant.
  • £10 – one local person to work for a day following the macaques in the forest.
  • £30 – buys netting for one farm. This protects the crops without harming monkeys and reduces conflict.
  • £100 – funds a half day workshop in the local school, educating children and their parents about the macaques and how to conserve them.

Raffle tickets are 2 for a £1. You can buy them directly from me or online here

If you buy them online I will email you your numbers or post you the tickets – whatever you like 🙂

Thanks 🙂

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Buy a raffle ticket and help me save the buton macaque!!

So those who came to the bake sale already know about this but in case anyone else is interested… I’m running a raffle to raise the final bit of funds I need for the project this summer. So if you haven’t already then please buy some raffle tickets and help me save the buton macaque 🙂

You could win one of these amazing prizes!

  • Ipod Shuffle
  • Adidas Cricket Bat signed by England cricketer Ian Bell
  • Head, back and shoulder massage from Sara at Tranquil Harmony (www.tranquilharmony.co.uk)
  • 10 handmade, fairtrade chocolate lollies from cloud cocoland (http://www.cloud-cocoland-chocolate.co.uk/)
  • £25 National Garden voucher
  • £40 Waterstones voucher
  • £10 Bodyshop voucher
  • A bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne
  • A bottle of Moet champagne
  • 2 week free membership of the Pavilion Club

What your support will achieve:

  • £5 – chilli seeds for 5 farmers to plant.
  • £10 – one local person to work for a day following the macaques in the forest.
  • £30 – buys netting for one farm. This protects the crops without harming monkeys and reduces conflict.
  • £100 – funds a half day workshop in the local school, educating children and their parents about the macaques and how to conserve them.

Raffle tickets are 2 for a £1. You can buy them directly from me or online here

If you buy them online I will email you your numbers or post you the tickets – whatever you like 🙂

The raffle will be drawn in a couple of weeks time at the Pavilion Club (watch this space for details).

Thanks 🙂

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The bake sale I held on 26th April went really well – I sold about 95% of the cakes I had there. The total so far for the bake sale and raffle tickets I sold on the day is about £550!!  This is incredible and I just can’t believe it! I expected to maybe raise a few hundred but not this – just amazing, thank you! You guys clearly like cakes ! 😉

Thank you SO much to everyone who came down to support me and an extra big thank you to my mum, Ann Priston, my Nan, and my lovely friends Anshu Mehta, Niky Riley, Tina Little, Colette Pienaar, Zena Deane, Melanie Hammond (and her two wonderful daughters Jasmine and Layla), Anna Stringer, Tracy Hansford, Preeya and Hilary Keale for the amazing baked donations – I really couldn’t have done it without you all and I am so grateful! you guys can call in the favours from me for this for a LONG time! 🙂

Milo the giant monkey toy went down a storm with the kids and the cakes seemed to go down well with everyone 🙂

thanks mum 🙂


a little monkey, sat on a big monkey (Milo), eating a yummy monkey cake!


Tina's monkey biscuit

Tina's monkey cake

Jasmine's cake (aged 9)

Layla's cakes (aged 8)

coffee break!

trained monkey








































Thanks again to everyone who came and bought cake and raffle tickets. The raffle tickets are still on sale (2 for a £1, from me or here)

and I’ll be drawing that in May.

You could win one of these amazing prizes!

•Ipod Shuffle
•Adidas Cricket Bat signed by England cricketer Ian Bell
•Head, back and shoulder massage from Sara at Tranquil Harmony (www.tranquilharmony.co.uk)
•10 handmade, fairtrade chocolate lollies from cloud cocoland (http://www.cloud-cocoland-chocolate.co.uk/)
•£25 National Garden voucher
•£40 Waterstones voucher
•£10 Bodyshop voucher
•A bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne
•A bottle of Moet champagne
•2 week free membership of the Pavilion Club

Thanks to the Pavilion, Cloud Cocoland and Sara Smith for donations for the raffle 🙂

One final thank you again to the Richard and the Pavilion club for letting me do this bake sale and a particular thanks to Christine who helped get this arranged for me. Given that I was competing with their own cafe this was extremely kind of them so big thanks 🙂

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU (and the monkeys thank you too 🙂 )

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Well I did it! On Saturday I cycled from Hampton Court to Brighton, in my monkey suit!

This is a bit of a long post but  please bear with me. I wanted to firstly thank EVERYONE who has supported me – both in terms of sponsorship and moral support. I’d like to say a massive thank you to my mum, Dr Ann Priston for all her help and support leading up to the ride and for manning my support car on the day! I couldn’t have done it without her and I think the whole experience was probably worse for her than it was for me, so thank you! 🙂 Secondly I would like to show everyone excerpts from the ride so you can all see that I did it, in the furry suit! I’ve been so touched by everyone’s kindness and generosity and I really can’t thank you all enough. A big thank you to the Pavilion Club too for allowing me to set off from their carpark and for all their support.

So far I’ve raised an amazing £855.80! I can’t believe it – thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far. If anyone was waiting for me to complete the cycle before sponsoring me then you can still sponsor me here 🙂 I’m still a way off from my total goal of £1500 so any donations are always welcome.

Now for the gruesome details of the day!

Here’s a map of my route:

You can see the full route in detail (downloadable if anyone wants to repeat this journey!), with photos at various points on my mapmyride site here (zoom in and click on the little camera icon to see photos of the route)

And here’s a little graph of the gradients and all the hills I peddled up! No wonder my legs are sore 😉

I set off from the Pavilion carpark at about 11:30, loads of people came down to see me off which was such a fab way to start.

furred and suited and ready to go!

I peddled off out of the carpark and off towards Thames Ditton. I won’t lie – as I left the carpark in the overcast, damp weather I was begining to wonder what on earth I’d let myself in for!

After a slightly damp ride through Tolworth and Ewell (where I picked up a fellow cycler who cycled with me for a mile or so) I pushed my way up Banstead hill, past the station and made it to my first pit stop – a quick Jelly Tot refuel at mile 10!

Jelly tot stop number 1 at the 10 mile mark!

I only stopped for a few minutes and then pressed on. The next section of the ride was a mix of ups and downs, with a few big hills. I’d been in need of a loo break since about mile 4 so we’d agreed to try to stop somewhere. I peddled past quite a few pubs and a starbucks and was sure mum would have stopped the car at one of them but I checked every car park as I went past and didn’t see it. So I decided to cycle on – down a slightly hairy sliproad that nearly took me on to the M25 (thanks to a really stupid cycle path layout!) and then on, under the M25 down the A23 towards, and under, the M23. By mile 25 I still hadn’t seen the car so I stopped and gave them a ring. It turned out they were about 10 miles behind me after stopping in a pub to wait for me. It seems they slightly underestimated my speed!

Riding up Turner's Hill for the next protein bar stop at mile 25

We managed to meet up with each other again at mile 25 at the top of Turner’s Hill for another refuel with a protein bar, some jelly tots and a refill of the water bottle!

Setting off again from Turner's Hill

I then set off again through some lovely countryside – some ups, some downs (really the South Downs should be renamed the South Ups to be honest!), and some great wildlife. In fact I was so busy looking at the baby bunnies, sparrowhawks and deer as I whizzed past that I managed to miss one of my key turnings in the village of Ardingley and took a slight detour of a couple of miles through the delightful village of Lindfield! The wind and rain picked up at this point of the ride (as you’ll see from the vid below with my billowing monkey outfit!) but the scenery kept me going, as did the beeps from motorists (which I hope were beeps of support rather than annoyance ;)) and some really encouraging words from fellow cyclists and walkers on the route 🙂

By this point I was cold, damp and pretty tired. My hip flexors were sore and my knees were starting to ache. I was actually grateful for the monkey suit as it did at least keep me a bit warm, but everytime I stopped I got cold pretty quickly so I tried to keep any stops to a minimum. Onwards and upwards (or downwards!) through Wivelsfield…

After this there was time for one final stop for me to psyche myself up for the final big hill – Ditchling Beacon. Although I knew it was quite a climb I hadn’t fully prepared myself for it and when I first caught sight of it as I came down Beacon Road it loomed up ahead like a solid wall! More of a mountain than a hill 😉

The moment I caught sight of the hill....

I made it up though – I put my bike into the lowest gear and just kept peddling. I managed not to stop and aside from some slightly hairy close calls with passing cars I got to the top unscathed, though it was lucky no one could hear me on the way up – the air was a teeny bit blue as I huffed and puffed my way to the top!

At the top of Ditchling Beacon! 🙂

I spent about 5 mins catching my breath and taking in the view at the top and then decided to head off before I got too cold. Then it was plain sailing for the last 6 miles! Mostly downhill from here in to Brighton, so it was bike in to top gear and then I was a super speedy monkey all the way in to Brighton – top speed 31 mph – wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 🙂 Some fantastic views of Brighton and the coast on the way down but I didn’t want to stop to take photos – was just too excited to be finishing!

Finished! Total time 4 hrs 49 mins including stops, 3hrs 49 mins of actual cycling time and 5hrs 18 if we include the bits where I had to wait for the support car! lol! Either way I’m super chuffed. I was expecting 5 – 6 hrs or more given the conditions, and as I’ve never cycled further than 10 miles in one go and only got the bike 2 weeks ago I think it’s pretty good! 🙂


Final chance for some photos on the beach before I got out of the monkey suit and into some dry clothes!

Now to swim the channel....


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