Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Sep 2020

  1. Guardians of the Forest

    A few weeks ago, Sarah our Community Development Manager gave a talk at the Africa Animal Welfare Conference about the Guardians of the Forest Youth Ranger programme she created for us at Darwin Animal Doctors to implement around the world. We’re hoping to develop the programme in Morocco, Madagascar and Tanzania but it’s already being taught in Sumatra and the Dominican Republic.

    Through her presentation you can learn exactly what we’re doing around the world with the Youth Ranger programme:

    The programme encourages communities and children within the community to have their voices heard and make a change. Conservation is a pressing issue in education that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

    The programme’s content is specific to each community we work with. We work with local teachers and rangers, in both English and the local language in creating each specific programme. Along with this, we also uses online forums such as Facebook, to make it even more interactive and allows the participants to really take ownership.

    A really important part of the programme is the variety of teaching techniques used: Drama; story telling; public speaking; practical, hands-on teaching; as well as classroom teaching. The real life situations builds confidence and self esteem, and stimulates questions within the students and gives them a real life context to apply what they have learnt.

    Just a few of the lessons learnt include: jungle safety, the illegal wildlife trade, interactive story-telling; and practical lessons: recycling material in the environment, habitat restoration, wildlife monitoring, tree planting, and the opportunity to do community surveys to identify needs within the local community..

    The programme also teaches the teachers and rangers in all these new, hands-on teaching methods, allowing the teachers themselves to become enthusiastic about trying new things and become mentors within the community. The teachers are encouraged to make the programme their own and really inspire and encourage their students.

    What we’ve found  is the students and young people want to have a voice and take responsibility. When they are allowed to make decisions for themselves and the community, they will create projects to educate the local communities. Seeing changes within the local community empowers them to take action and they are learning the importance of conservation through positive life experiences. The Guardians of the Forest Youth Rangers Programme creates a community of change-makers with a shared responsibility across the world.

    Below is a link to the full video of Sarah’s presentation on our facebook page for you all to enjoy. It’s such a brilliant insight into the amazing Youth Ranger programme she worked so hard to create.



    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  2. International Slow Loris Day

    A wonderful team of people, committed to slow-loris conservation, including the team as ISCP, https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original, have decided to dedicate September 13th as International Slow Loris Day. In honour of this, this week, we are all about slow-lorises!!!!


    These beautiful, little, nocturnal primates have some unique adaptations that make them incredibly interesting. For a start they have a toxic bite!!! The only primate to have to have this trait! They have a gland on their upper arm that they lick, which combines with their saliva (made toxic from vegetation they eat), to form their toxic bite! It has been known to cause anaphylactic shock and even one reported death in humans!

    There are 8 different species of slow loris, found all across Southeast Asia, in tropical and subtropical regions in rainforests, bamboo groves and mangrove forests.

    The species our friends in Sumatra are dedicated to rescuing are the Sunda slow loris. These lovely little creatures are listed as ‘Endangered’, with all species being ‘Threatened’, ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’. The lovely, distinctive pattern around those huge eyes differs from each species.

    Slow lorises have a very low basal metabolic rate- they’re slow, very much like sloths! and yet they have a high calorie diet: fruit, gum tree, nectar, insects and small animals and birds. So why the slow metabolism? It’s so they can eat toxic foods to give them that toxic bite we talked about earlier. For example, slow lorises feed on Gluta bark, which can be fatal to humans.

    And because of their slow movement, the lorises’ defenses are to hardly disturb the vegetation as they move in the trees and they are almost completely silent. Once disturbed, they immediately stop moving and remain motionless. That and the toxic chemicals they brush into the fur of their young, help protect them against predators including snakes, hawk-eagles, cats, sun bears, binturongs, civets, and any other predators.

    Unfortunately, all slow lorises are threatened by the wildlife trade and habitat loss. Their habitat is rapidly disappearing and becoming fragmented, making it nearly impossible for slow lorises to disperse between forest fragments. And there are deep-rooted beliefs about the supernatural powers of slow lorises, such as their supposed abilities to ward off evil spirits or to cure wounds in traditional medicine. In many parts of S.E.Asia, certain parts of these poor creatures are also supposed to bring good luck.

    But what we’re seeing, seemingly ever increasingly in Sumatra, is the trade in slow lorises as exotic pets. Slow lorises are sold locally at street markets, as they are very popular pets, particularly in Indonesia. They are often seen as “living toys” for children by local people. Weekly, ISCP’s team in Sumatra are rescuing slow loris that are being kept as pets. Often the individuals keeping them hand them over willingly having not known previously that local laws prohibit the trade in slow lorises. As these groups educate the local communities, more people become aware that their actions are in fact illegal.

    Even sadder is the international smuggling of slow lorises to Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia for use as pets. They’re considered especially popular because “they’re easy to keep, they don’t cry, they’re small, and just very cute.”

    To protect people from their potentially toxic bite, animal dealers pull out their front teeth This results in severe bleeding, which sometimes causes shock or death.

    Without their teeth, the animals can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, and must remain in captivity for life. Slow lorises are also stress-sensitive and do not do well in captivity. Common health problems seen in pet slow lorises include undernourishment, tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure. Infection, stress, pneumonia, and poor nutrition lead to high death rates among pet lorises.

    Any rescued lorises at ISCP undergo a full medical before release, and are rehabilitated at the centre where necessary. In its lifetime, ISCP has rescued over 70 slow loris, along with leopard cats, macaques, gibbons, binturong, sun bears, raptors and over 1000 songbirds and other wildlife. 4 slow loris were rescued and released in the last week of August alone, with 6 being cared for at the rehabilitation centre right now.

    So we at DAD, with our partners at ISCP and other friends and NGO’s would love for these beautiful, shy creatures to be recognised and protected this September 13th.

    And I’ll finish with my favourite Loris fact… They first appeared in the Asian fossil record around 18 million years ago, and they are distant cousins of the equally beautiful lemurs in Madagascar.


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  3. Africa Animal Welfare Conference

    We have some exciting news this week. The wonderful Sarah, our Community Developer here at DAD, has been accepted to talk at Africa Animal Welfare Conference (AAWC) 2020. https://www.aawconference.org

    This is the 4th annual African Animal Welfare Conference, this year, a virtual conference, running from September 7 -10th and is a collaboration between a number of different organisations, with our position as a member of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia allowing us to participate, and raise awareness for our ongoing projects in Morocco and Tanzania.




    The conference provides a platform for different organisations, like us, who are animal welfare stakeholders in Africa to discuss developments in, and hopefully encourage further development and planning to realise animal welfare.

    Of course, one of the issues being discussed will be the implications of COVID-19 and any future zoonotic diseases and their effects on human health, animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation.

    But that is just a small part of the program. They’ll be looking at the progress in animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation, human and animal health and sustainable development in Africa: Discussing the role of governments, individuals, organizations, and communities in achieving responsible use of animals, improving animal welfare, and supporting environmental conservation in Africa: Assessing the role of natural solutions in tackling the challenges of development in Africa; and much much more.

    Don’t worry if you’re interested but don’t have the time to watch. We’ll be updating on the conference again in the coming weeks, particularly on Sarah’s involvement. We’re very proud to see her there!!


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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