Fighting the illegal pet trade in Morocco

Working in the forest of Bouhachem in the north of Morocco, Sian Waters and her team are creating a safe future for the only north African primate, Barbary macaques. 

Every animal counts

Barbary macaque groupWith as few as 10,000 individual monkeys left, every animal counts. So getting the local communities on board to conserve these creatures was critical. Barbary macaques are important. They help keep the forest healthy by spreading seeds so that new trees and plants grow. But as their forest home dwindles, as people cut down trees for timber and to clear areas for crops, they not only lose their habitat but young infants are then caught and used in the tourist trade or sold as pets.

Sian has been working hard to raise awareness about these issues with the local communities, to help them understand how important their only primate is to the health of their forests, and to generate understanding and compassion for these creatures.

School games

Barbary macaque education

Within schools, 430 teachers were given a teachers’ pack, with information and aids that help them teach their classes about the macaques. Village school children have been learning how to play the ‘Forest Game.’ They dress up as trees, Barbary macaques, African wolves and livestock. The “animals” must hold their breath as they move from tree to tree and as each tree is cut down the distance they must move whilst holding their breath gets longer. This game conveys the reality of what deforestation means for wildlife and for local people’s livestock. The teachers have responded enthusiastically about how useful the packs have been, whilst children have been seeing playing the game outside school.

8,300 students and teachers

In total, Sian’s team delivered almost 100 lessons in 26 schools reaching an amazing audience of over 8,300 children and teachers. This is a wonderful achievement. The interest and enthusiasm of local communities shows that this bottom up approach to tackling difficult conservation problems really does work.

Thank you to all those involved, and to all of you who helped to fund this work.


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