During normal times, the number of animals needing either temporary or permanent rehoming can be up to 150 a month but that number has increased significantly due to Covid- families are abandoning their pets during the pandemic.
Protectors Without Borders are doing everything they can to accommodate all these poor abandoned pets: providing food, veterinary care, vaccinations and homes for as many as possible.
And, here at DAD, we want to do everything we can to help, so we are funding the next month of rescues. We hope to do as much as possible to help our friends and partners in Brazil and their lovely animal companions, and we hope to have stories to share with you all!
If you would like to contribute, please follow the link below to our paypal.
Over the past 10 months, Sarah, our Community Development Manager; and Joe, our web designer, have been working with a new organisation in Sumatra, Seed of Change Expeditions (www.seedofchangeexpeditions.org)
The Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra is home to Tigers, Rhinos, Elephants and Orangutans, as well as a number of our partners including ISCP (Indonesian Species Conservation Project), Stay Wild, Bukit Lawang Trust, and Sapo Zuma Zuma School.
It is a biodiversity hotspot, home to an estimated 10,000 different plant species, almost 600 bird species, 200 mammal species and close to 100 species of amphibians and reptiles, many of which are endemic: found only there! Seed of Change Expeditions is a locally created organisation which aims to teach visitors from around the world about the wonders of this unique ecosystem, inspiring people everywhere to become champions of the rainforest, support wildlife and enable local communities to thrive.
Throughout the lockdowns, Sarah and Joe, along with Shamanthi Jayawardena, a Marketing Expert who has volunteered her time, have worked with Ruddy and the Seed of Change team to create their designs, logos, and brand, setting up a business plan with health and safety protocols including Covid tracing, and done the amazing job of designing and building the website.
Our goal is to support the development of Seed of Change Expeditions. The local team running the trekking have been working on conservation projects in the local area for a number of years, and have been able to incorporate these ideas in their programmes. Their plan is to create a positive impact on the jungle, wildlife, and jungle communities around Batu Katak; making a lasting contribution to the jungle; helping to rebuild the rainforest (they plan to plant 1000 trees a year!!!!); and supporting local people and tourists to gain a better understanding of the jungle and how to protect it. We will, in time run a specially designed programme with the guides including: ranger activities, customer services, first aid and health and safety to continue their development.
Safe practices are important to us, and them. They are ensuring they’re treks follow the UNESCO Safe Practices guide (https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000187099), and encourage visitors to learn about local culture, creating the safest, most enjoyable environments, not only for their guests but for the animals too!!!
Not only that, but they’re working towards Sustainable Development Goals, providing personal and professional development skills that local guides and employees can use to support their communities; and offering local experiences that provide an income to people within the community. They are encouraging visitors to connect with others to create a change through their Community Eco Trek Club.
Partners at Stay Wild are also providing support by loaning camera traps to monitor wildlife, and visitors will have the opportunity to connect with programmes and other projects within the area, allowing visiting children to experience even more of this amazing environment and inspiring young people to take joy in nature and the natural wonders of the world!
A Happy New Year to you all. As we welcome in the new year, we’re going to take a moment to look back at 2020.
It’s certainly been a year of ups and downs, from heart breaking losses, to amazing shows of support and community. Despite everything, we have achieved so much this year, with your help.
Our biggest announcement this year was the heart-breaking announcement of Piggy’s passing in May. Despite the amazing hard work of his vets, and the determination of Tod and friends, Piggy lost his fight with cancer, but his work continues, and the work that the team at DAD has been able to achieve this year shows just how much Piggy’s spirit of determination lives on.
The effects of COVID-19 have undoubtedly had a significant impact on our projects this year with many of our plans temporarily postponed and many others focusing mostly on fighting the effects of the virus.
RAPAD-Maroc, in Morocco was one of our new partnerships at the beginning of the year, focusing on re-building and reclaiming habitats for wildlife, including the building of wells to supply water to animals and communities alike, but as the pandemic hit, they launched their ‘Street Shepherds’ Campaign, caring for all the newly abandoned farm and domestic animals on the streets of Morocco. With the hundreds of dogs, sheep, donkeys and other animals they were caring for, they even made it into local media. They truly are superheroes!
The team at ISCP- Indonesian Species Conservation Program, in Sumatra have been incredibly busy this year. They really hit the ground running as, unfortunately the year started with horrendous forest fires in the rainforests in Sumatra and Borneo. It was a dramatic start to the year but definitely had a happy ending as the slow loris’s the team rescued were successfully rehabilitated and safely released back into the wild.
This was just the start of their rescue, rehab and release for the year with approximately 30 slow loris being released this year, and their total nearing 100 slow loris, over 1000 songbirds and raptors, as well as gibbons, leopard cats, macaques, binturongs, sun bears and other wildlife. Rudi’s team at ISCP, have even championed International Slow Loris Day on September 13th this year.
Not only have they been working hard on their slow loris rescue, but back in February, the generosity of IFAW allowed them to expand and help save sun bears from the illegal wildlife trade too, and we were able follow the story of one little sun bear on his path to rehabilitation.
Later in the year, they were able to expand again and a gibbon enclosure joined the Conservation Program with two Siamang Gibbons being rehabilitated at the rescue centre.
ISCP has suffered their own set-backs this year, with their director, founder and leader being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in November, but with your generosity on Giving Tuesday, and the dedication of the team, they have continued their hard work, as they did through the summer: delivering care packages of bags of rice, hand sanitiser, pet food, soap and face masks.
While they’ve been restricted in their operations for the most of the year, our partners in Brazil, Protectors Without Borders, started the year off with a natural disaster of their own, as their region was deluged in constant storms and flooding. Not only were they caring for a lot more animals, but also continuing to campaign to pass the first humane laws in the region. They’ve had a busy year, there’s always animals that need help, including these adorable pups.
Along with RAPAD-Maroc, another new partnership early this year were the amazing community rangers of the Rafiki Wildlife Foundation, in Tanzania. Whilst their operations were hit quite hard through the summer, as the year progressed, they were able to re-commence their patrols, with the hope of limiting the human/ wildlife conflict in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area.
Another of our partners we’ve seen a lot of this year is the wonderful Ismael and his rescue centre in Tanzania. Your amazing generosity towards Piggy’s Birthday Fundraiser in November has allowed the shelter to expand, building new kennels in order to rescue more of the stray pups off of the streets. New pups receive medical treatment and are looked after at this wonderful shelter until they can be adopted.
We can’t look back on the year without mentioning the global pandemic a bit. So many of our partners have been unable to operate. Schools and education programs around the world have been at a standstill, including many of our partners in Indonesia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and others. Our project in Madagascar has had to be postponed, though we did see an amazing presentation in May, given by Dr. Tara Clarke on Madagascar, the Vanishing 8th Continent.
Our project in Madagascar is Saving Madagascar Together: Community Youth Environmental Program. The program will use the Youth Rangers program, and has been selected to teach environmental conservation and animal welfare topics for students and community members whose overall interaction with their ecosystem, conservation and natural forest is somewhat limited. But that’s something to look forward to.
Instead we’ve asked you to come together this year and help our partners to adapt and overcome the severe complications that the pandemic has thrown at them. Your generosity in our COVID Campaign not only helped ISCP in Sumatra, Ismael and the Rangers in Tanzania but also our seamstresses in the US making masks for all!
But we started and end the year with exciting news on our Youth Ranger’s Program. Way back in January, we launched our very first campaign of the year. Our community developer, Sarah, went to Sumatra to work with schools, NGO’s, Rangers, and communities from all over Indonesia.
She taught her Youth Ranger program to hundreds of teachers and students and at the beginning of March we were able to see some of the effects of this. Stay Wild in Sumatra continued to teach the program and we were able to report the joyous celebrations as the children graduated from phase 1, well on their way to becoming defenders of their rainforest home.
Sarah has continued to work hard on the program, and not only is phase 3 ready to roll, but, thanks to honour we had in February of becoming full constituent members of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia, she was able to talk at the 4th annual African Animal Welfare Conference. 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.
Following on from her amazing presentation, and after a lot of talks, we were delighted to announce, just a few weeks ago that we are now developing the Guardians of the Forest, Youth Ranger Program for new partners in Zimbabwe and Kenya!
Overall, despite the hardships this year has thrown at us, we really have achieved a lot worldwide. None of our work would be possible without your generous support and we are looking forward to an exciting New Year.
Last week we told you all about now Piggy’s Birthday fundraiser had been helping the wonderful Ismael (https://www.facebook.com/AnimalRescueTz) expand and improve his shelter in Tanzania, giving hope to many street pups, including the four new adorable ones, being housed in the brand new kennels.
By now you’ve probably learned that Ismaels shelter, the first in mainland Tanzania, is just one of the amazing projects we’re working with in Africa.
We have our partners at Rafiki Wildlife Foundation, in Tanzania who, together with the District Game Officer and the Management of Burunge WMA patrol the local area to help minimise the human animal conflicts in the region. The Babati District is rich in wildlife with the patrols frequently encountering a number of wildebeest, elephants, impala, zebra and waterbuck, as well as giraffes and buffalo.
In Morocco, earlier this year we started another wildlife habitat restoration and school rebuilding program with local Moroccan partner and fellow UN animal group RAPAD-Maroc. (https://rapad-maroc.org/), who have spent the year tirelessly sheltering and caring for the well-being of hundreds of abandoned animals on the streets, as well as attempting to educate the local communities.
Working on one of our most recent projects Saving Madagascar Together: Community Youth Environmental Program. Using the brilliant Youth Rangers program to provide an immersive course, supplementing the environmental education program run by Association Mitsinjo, in the Andasibe National Park. (http://associationmitsinjo.wordpress.com)
We are currently working towards partnerships with local schools across Madagascar and in the Arusha community in Tanzania to implement our Youth Rangers Programme and Piggy’s humane education.
But we’re not stopping there!!!!
In September Sarah, our Community Development Manager, gave an amazing 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. (http://darwinanimaldoctors.org/2020/09/)
Since then, the team has been in talks with organisations in Kenya and Zimbabwe, discussing the Youth Rangers Program and how it can be developed for communities there. Pwani Animal Welfare in Kenya is just one of the organisations we are looking to work with in 2021! (https://pawmombasa.co.ke/blog/)
So Sarah has been working flat out to develop the program, not only for the new partners in Kenya and Zimbabwe but also for existing partners, with Phase 3 now nearing completion where the main part of the program is for youth rangers to create their own community conservation projects, with support from the rangers/teachers.
So 2021 will be a year of Africa: developing Morocco, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe. Exciting times are ahead!!!!
We have some brilliant news following on from Piggy’s birthday in November. Despite the difficult time, we made sure to celebrate Piggy’s birthday the way it should be: helping animals and people around the world!
Piggy’s birthday fundraiser set out to help Ismael’s Animal Shelter (https://www.facebook.com/AnimalRescueTz) in Tanzania, the first animal shelter in Tanzania, which we have been helping build up.
The shelter gives essential care and shelter to homeless pups, taken off the streets, and brings humane education to local children, protecting the animals, safeguarding public health, and instilling a sense of empathy and compassion in the children!
Four new puppies have arrived at the shelter. They were sick and skinny and full of parasites and now recovering in a brand new kennel that you helped to fund.
They are receiving necessary vet care, thanks to your generosity and are under a shelter roof that you funded! This is the dramatic transformation that you made possible!
So a huge thank you to everyone who made Piggy’s birthday fundraiser a huge success! From all of us at DAD, and all in Tanzania, including the stray pups that now have a chance of proper care and even adoption. Thank you, you superheroes!!!
Over the years your generosity towards our Giving Tuesday Campaigns have helped so many of our partners all around the world.
This year it has been for our friend and partner, Rudi at ISCP (https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original) in Sumatra. In the last couple of weeks, Rudi has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Thankfully it is treatable, but it is going to involve a course of expensive chemotherapy treatment.
Rudi’s work has been tireless. We’ve featured his work in our weekly highlights many times this year. Along with his team at ISCP they have now rescued close to 100 slow loris, over 1000 songbirds and raptors, gibbons, leopard cats, macaques, binturongs, sun bears and other wildlife. http://darwinanimaldoctors.org/?p=3421 And Rudi and his team worked hard in September to create a day to champion the animals they work so hard to protect, creating International Slow Loris Day on September 13th http://darwinanimaldoctors.org/international-slow-loris-day. His dedication to his work and these amazing animals in inspirational.
In all, Rudi is an amazing individual, who’s dedication and commitment is beyond inspirational. Even when his own need is at it’s greatest, he is still focused on his passion: saving Sumatra. He never once asked for our help in this and has been attempting to raise the funds himself, even planning to sell his own possessions to pay his hospital bills. Not only that, but he has continued working from his hospital bed. The news from ISCP just keeps coming. Just this week they have another 3 slow loris waiting for release from their rehabilitation centre.
Education is a big part of what we do at Darwin Animal Doctors, whether it’s the incredible Youth Rangers Programme: the hands on community engagement, conservation programme we spoke about a few weeks ago, which encourages communities and children to have their voices heard and make a change; or Piggy’s humane education curriculum, rooted in the wonderful A Piggy’s Tale comic books, and being taught at home in the US and around the world. So it can come as no surprise that we partner with many schools in many countries around the world, as well as community education initiatives.
Just recently, Hadee donated her birthday fundraiser to the Sapo Zuma Zuma school, https://www.facebook.com/sumatrasapozumazuma, in Sumatra, Indonesia. Sapo Zuma Zuma is a free school which provides conservation, English language and traditional dance classes to local children. Their emphasis is on the importance of protecting nature for the future.
Sapo Zuma Zuma is just one of the schools on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park: the last place on Earth where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans co-exist, that we partner with. Another is the Bukit Lawang Trust, https://www.facebook.com/BukitLawangTrust, an education based community project that runs free English classes, kindergarten, conservation education and other programmes.
Since we started working with the communities in this area of Sumatra, we’ve had children complete the first phase of the Youth Ranger programme, learning forestry skills, English, and vocational skills, and patrolling with the rangers in the Leuser Ecosystem rainforest. We’ve also had the children learning A Piggy’s Tale, in lessons in English language and humane education in the classrooms.
We’ve worked with the National Park rangers in the rainforest, in their school set up to educate children on the importance of their ecosystem and to give them alternatives to the palm oil industry, and we’ve been directly to the surrounding colleges and universities to implement these programmes in Sumatra.
In the Dominican Republic, the schools we work with see a heart-breaking number of at-risk children. The local environment has been ravaged by natural disasters, and the economy poor. The schools themselves have just the bare bones of infrastructure.
Despite these hardships, and admittedly a somewhat rocky start, Proteccion Animal Cabrera, https://www.facebook.com/proteccionanimalcabrera, our local partner persevered in implementing Piggy’s Animal Guardians programme. The humane education programme has seen groups of highly at-risk children making presentations on animals and their ecosystem, working cooperatively in groups, and making stories about animals and why we need to care more for them. The transformation in the children has been amazing.
The children, with their amazing teachers, completed a 6 week pilot of Piggy’s humane education program in 2019, and this year they’ve completed eight more sessions in a small mountain school. An additional two schools have started the program but have yet to finish due to the shut down.
In Puerto Rico, much of our focus was on rebuilding, following hurricane Maria late in 2017. We began rebuilding schools around Morovis, starting with three, then five, with the schools using our humane curriculum as we rebuilt. Our partners at the Las Cabachuelas Nature Reserve, https://www.facebook.com/proyectocabachuelas, in Morovis, along with students from our local school partners, took part in our rebuilding program, building sustainable gardens and hands-on science labs. A lot of the focus was on getting the kids outside, moving, learning about their world by exploring it and empathizing with the animals they see.
Worldwide, for each school we reach, many more schools approach us asking for the programme as well. We are working towards partnerships with local schools across Madagascar and in the Arusha community in Tanzania to implement our Youth Rangers Programme and Piggy’s humane education.
And of course who can forget the schools in the US where Piggy brought comfort and care to hundreds of children, and his humane education principles continue.
It’s been 2 months since we’ve taken a trip to Indonesia to see how ISCP- Indonesian Species Conservation Program https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original in Sumatra are doing, and what an amazing 2 months they’ve been.
When we last had a look in, at the beginning of September, there were 6 adorable slow loris being cared for at the rehabilitation centre.
After 3 months of rehabilitation, all 6 were released back into the wild in a conservation forest area in the Dairi district of North Sumatra, in a release coordinated with North Sumatra KSDA Centre, back in October.
Along with the 6 resident slow loris, 12 other protected animals were released. There was a seventh slow loris, songbirds, raptors and a leopard cat. All of which had been rescued from illegal trade in Northern Sumatra. Don’t worry, the leopard cat was released a safe distance from the slow loris!!!
The seventh slow loris was voluntarily handed over by a resident of Medan city. Having kept the slow loris as a pet for 6 months, they read on social media that the slow loris is a protected animal, and it is illegal to keep them as pets. The word is slowly spreading!!!
Following a medical check, this slow loris too was cleared for release.
The areas for release are carefully considered. The availability of suitable habitat for the species and suitable food sources are key considerations but the team must also consider human activity within the area. Only when they consider an area protected from various human activities including poaching and habitat destruction, will it be chosen as a release site.
So for a short while the ISCP Sumatran slow loris rehabilitation enclosure was empty, but not for long…
Shortly after, the ISCP team was contacted by a resident of theTanjung Balai area, wanting to hand over a slow loris to a representative from BKSDA North Sumatra. Later that same day, the team in Aceh was also called to rescue 3 Sumatran slow loris from 2 locations. After a medical and behavioural examination, it was decided that all four would be released in conservation forest areas in Central Aceh.
That’s 11 beautiful little Loris released back into the wilds of Sumatra in the last 2 months, and there’s still more to come. As recently as this week, 2 more slow loris have been handed over to BKSDA and ISCP to be rehabilitated, and later released back into the North Sumatran ecosystem!
Way back in May, our very own Doctor Tara Clarke gave an amazing presentation for the Indian Association of Primatologists on Madagascar, the Vanishing 8th Continent.
One of our most recent projects at DAD is Saving Madagascar Together: Community Youth Environmental Program. The program uses the Youth Rangers program we told you about a few weeks ago, and has been selected to teach environmental conservation and animal welfare topics for students and community members whose overall interaction with their ecosystem, conservation and natural forest is somewhat limited.
In her presentation, Tara starts by looking at just how exceptional Madagascar is. You can find her whole presentation in the link below, but we’re going to give you some of the highlights here.
The geological and natural history of Madagascar is incredible. It separated from India, and all other land 88 million years ago, so it’s had an exceptionally long time to evolve a truly unique array of plants and animals. The biodiversity is immense and so many of the species are endemic, found only in Madagascar: 90% of the plant life; 99% of the amphibians, all of which are frogs!; 96% of the reptiles, Madagascar has half the world’s species of chameleon; and 7/8 of the Malagasy carnivores, including King Julian’s nemesis, the Fossa!!!
And that is to say nothing of the already extinct species of Madagascar. As recently as 1000years ago, Madagascar was home to an impressive array of giant mega-fauna including elephant birds, giant fossa and giant lemurs- the size of gorillas!!! Unfortunately a combination of human activities contributed to the extinction of these giant creatures. Tara will tell you more about them in her presentation!
Of course the most famous of Madagascar’s animals are the adorable, charismatic lemurs! Having had 40 million years to evolve separately, after rafting across the 250km of the Mozambique Channel on land breaks, these primates are unique to Madagascar. Having no competitors, they were able to evolve to fill all the ecological niches: in the year 2000 alone 51 new species were described. They still have an immense diversity from tiny, 30 gram Mouse lemurs, to the 9.5kg Indri lemur. Sadly though, these beautiful creatures are still at risk of more extinction. 95% of the different species are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered, making them the most endangered of the primates.
Not only the lemurs are threatened, the whole extent of Madagascar’s amazing biodiversity is at risk. Madagascar is a top conservation priority: it is a biodiversity hotspot, but less than 30% of its natural vegetation remains. In the case of Madagascar, it’s much less, and what little primary forest remains is very fragmented. Human induced activity: slash and burn agriculture, illegal logging, mining, charcoal burning and the illegal pet trade have had a devastating effect.
But of course there are conservation efforts in place. In the presentation, Tara talks about a number of novel approaches to conservation, including; social media, where they’ve actually done research using Twitter into pet lemurs; citizen science, a new area of research where anonymous surveys track sightings of lemurs kept as pets in Madagascar, which is of course illegal; and Wildlife Forensic Genetic Barcoding, which they are calling Poop Science!
Wildlife Forensic Genetic Barcoding, uses DNA sequences collected from animals, or in this case from their poop, to identify the species, and has been used in poaching incidents, including elephants and sharks. In this case, the poop is being collected, non-invasively, from ring-tailed lemurs in wild populations, pets and in sanctuaries so it can be identified where they are being captured and these hot spots can be the focus of targeted conservation efforts.
And of course there is our very own project that we touched on earlier: Saving Madagascar Together! It is designed to provide immersive course material to supplement the environmental education program run by Association Mitsinjo, in the Andasibe National Park. Participants will learn about and experience a day in the life of an Association Mitsinjo environmental volunteer and work alongside their instructors and local environmentalists to protect the forests.
Association Mitsinjo (http://associationmitsinjo.wordpress.com) is a nonprofit dedicated to reforestation, ecotourism, wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, and environmental education of the Commune of Andasibe residents, stationed just outside the National Park. They work with 10 local primary schools to expand environmental and conservation knowledge in their local area.
Our project hopes to supplement Association Mitsinjo’s current program, dedicated to connecting students with their local forest, educating students on their conduct in the context of ecosystems they aren’t usually able to experience in full. The students will take part in a variety of fun, interactive activities from litter pick ups, restoring habitats, learning about volunteer efforts, and monitoring amphibian and lemur populations through scavenger hunts, as well as learning how to be safe and responsible in the forest. Young people will learn about the amazing endangered species in their local environment and be able to develop their own research in simple community surveys to identify the needs of the local community and how communities can also support the work of local environmentalists.
Tara has some fascinating lemur facts in her presentation, as well as expanding on some of the ideas we’ve shared with you in brief. There is also much more about the research being done in Madagascar and their findings, so please do check out her presentation in the link below!
While we’re very excited to be developing this amazing community project in Madagascar, it has of course had its own delays this year. We hope we’ll soon be able to give you new reports from Madagascar.
They are back on patrol!! Thanks to your generous support, the Rafiki Wildlife Foundation in Tanzania are back patrolling the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Throughout the week, our partners at Rafiki have been meeting with the District Game Officer and the Management of Burunge WMA, and have been allocated a small team of scouts in order to be able to complete their patrols and surveys.
The Babati District is rich in wildlife and when the initial patrol went out on Tuesday, they encountered a number of wildebeest, elephants, impala, zebra and waterbuck, as well as giraffes and buffalo.
The team are following the herds that stick to the borders of the reserve.
Thankfully the farms in the area patrolled on Tuesday have already harvested their crops, so animal conflict in that area is currently at a minimum, however in one of their next patrols, they intend to visit an area where elephants and buffalo continue to disturb farmers crops. It is an on-going problem in the area, which they are working hard to overcome, with their scouts attending a two day seminar about Human Resources Policy, organised by government officials this week.
The Rafiki Wildlife Foundation is working to protect humans and wildlife alike!