Update from the field: Drill Ranch
Hi, I’m Jenny, and I’m on the Primate Team here at the Zoo. I’m also the Quarters for Conservation Champion for Drill Ranch, one of the three programs supported by Zoo Atlanta’s Quarters for Conservation in its 2018-2019 program year.
If you’ve read my previous updates, you likely have a good idea of what Drill Ranch does and why it exists. For this update, I wanted to help introduce you to another project from Pandrillus founders Liza Gadsby and Peter Jenkins: the Limbe Wildlife Center. Established in 1993, the Limbe Wildlife Center (LWC) is the product of a collaboration between the Pandrillus Foundation and the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, on behalf of the Government of Cameroon. Similar to Drill Ranch, LWC provides rescue and rehabilitation resources for animals seized in the wildlife trade, which in turn supports national wildlife protection laws. In addition to this, the center directs its resources toward reintroduction, conservation, education, law enforcement, positive advocacy, and the promotion of alternative livelihoods, all of which aim to support the proliferation of wildlife, particularly primates, in Africa. While the vast majority of Drill Ranch’s occupants are drill monkeys, they also house chimpanzees who were in need of rescue and rehabilitation. LWC expands upon this and houses even more diversity, to include Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, western lowland gorillas, Cross River gorillas, drill monkeys and several species of guenons and mangabeys, as well as a variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles. It is currently estimated that they care for approximately 360 victims of the illegal wildlife trade, a monumental task made even more difficult without support from donors, businesses and organizations. One such organization lending their support is the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance.
Late last year, Zoo Atlanta had the privilege of hosting guest speaker Gregg Tully, Executive Director of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), who spoke to staff about the mission of PASA and how it aids in the preservation of apes and monkeys across Africa. This organization works with its network of wildlife centers to provide animal rescue and care, emergency response services, training for veterinarians and other wildlife professionals, education of local communities, and research of the animals within their centers’ care, as well as research into the illegal pet trade and illegal hunting of endangered species. Most notably, PASA also assists in the collection of monetary donations, 100 percent of which are directed to the centers within the network. As members of this network, Drill Ranch and Limbe Wildlife Center receive support from PASA in the realm of funding, volunteers and exposure of their organizations, all of which are crucial to promoting their conservation efforts. In fact, last year PASA helped lead a campaign to help raise funding and support for Drill Ranch following a catastrophic storm that destroyed most of the site and unfortunately led to the deaths of a number of animals living there.
These types of partnerships are an important aspect of animal conservation, as they broaden the reach of the message at hand, and allow organizations like Drill Ranch, which are often nonprofit, donation-based facilities, to continue daily operations and provide care to every animal that comes through their doors. The main threats to Africa’s primates are multi-faceted, and have devastating impacts when combined – which, unfortunately, is often the case. Habitat destruction, wildlife trade and illegal hunting of endangered species have nearly decimated the majority of primates on the continent.
Beyond supporting Zoo Atlanta’s Quarters for Conservation program, gaining understanding of organizations like LWC and PASA helps give you context and scope to the nature of these threats, while providing further information on the situation as a whole, and opportunities for more involvement. Opening our eyes to the ways in which we can all help is a great step for the future and a great option for all of our guests who are looking to continue their conservation journey. I encourage any of you who may be interested to learn more about each of these three organizations, in addition to volunteering and donation opportunities benefiting their cause.
Keeper III, Primates, and Quarters for Conservation Champion, Drill Ranch