Good For All News - PRIMATES
BY NATASHA TWOROSKI ON APRIL 25, 2017
Across the continent of Africa, wildlife sanctuaries are working hard to better the lives of their native animals. From improving electrical lines to protect monkeys from accidental electrocution to educating communities about the misconceptions of traditional medicine using ape bones, the responsibilities of a sanctuary extend well beyond helping injured and orphaned animals. While each sanctuary faces unique trials, having a means to communicate and share knowledge of successes and challenges with one another can save each sanctuary effort and resources. This is where the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) comes in.
Founded in 2000, PASA is a non-profit charity with 22 member sanctuaries across 13 African countries, including Chimp Eden (the Jane Goodall Institute’s South African sanctuary) and Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center (the Jane Goodall Institute’s Congo sanctuary, and the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa). While PASA’s members are very diverse, they share a main goal: to provide a safe and secure home for African primates in need. Joining the Alliance requires complying with an extensive list of requirements including organisational planning, a strong financial base, high standards of veterinary treatment and animal care, and conservation education programmes.
Since many of the countries that PASA members reside in are impoverished, providing job opportunities helps sanctuaries to integrate into the local communities. PASA members currently employ 700 African staff. By supplying stable, fairly waged positions and investing in training staff, over 3,000 animals have found a safe, secure place to call home at a PASA sanctuary.
The 22 wildlife centres’ education programs reach more than 500,000 people every year, and their sanctuaries host 153,000 visitors annually. Most of the centres have developed income-generating projects in neighbouring communities and improve local agricultural practices, and many provide job skills training. These programs empower communities to break the cycle of poverty so they will no longer be compelled to illegally hunt primates or exploit protected land.
PASA’s members also protect wild primates more directly: most regularly send forest patrols into wildlife habitat, and members in seven countries have successfully worked with government agencies to establish new national parks and other protected areas.
This has all been accomplished in extremely challenging conditions. Fewer than 40% of PASA member organisations members have consistent access to the internet, fewer than 60% have consistent phone connections, and close to 20% lack reliable access to water.
The necessity and positive outcomes of these centres are enormous, and with such dedicated facilities and employees across 13 countries, it is clear that rescued animals have a fighting chance. It is the ultimate hope and goal however, that there will come a time when there is no need for sanctuaries in Africa. To get closer to this reality, it requires all of us supporting the many efforts of the sanctuaries and organisations working to educate communities, end illegal trade and bushmeat demand, and halt habitat destruction. It’s up to all of us.