PASA Reintroduction Workshop 2013

Colin at the PASA workshopI might have been looking for a rest after the hard work of the PASA Managers Workshop (see article in this issue), but no chance! Sensibly saving travel costs & time, the African Sanctuary Managers went straight into a four-day workshop looking at how to reintroduce primates back into their natural habitat. Despite considerable effort, we still know so little about how to do this effectively, and have very little experience – or at least very little experience where we have learnt how successful or not we have been. Returning animals to the wild is the ultimate aim of us all, for those primates that are able to benefit from this.

The workshop was to develop a vision and practical steps for Primate Reintroduction encompassing conservation, welfare and ecosystem impacts. For example, can we be sure we are not endangering wild populations when releasing animals – by competition for food, or disease? How can we be sure that animals we release have the skills & knowledge to look after themselves? Can we be sure that released animals are healthy and happy after release?

We did have several monkey sanctuaries represented at the meeting, but the focus was on Great Apes, so we were joined by many experts from Asia working on Orang Utans. We had researchers and scientists who told us about the latest knowledge on habitat and behaviour. We learnt about state of the art technology to help us track animals and keep an eye on their condition when released. We shared learning and experience across African & Asian sanctuaries. This unique gathering will result in a framework to guide great ape reintroduction efforts to help those dedicated few who are working to give our primate charges the option of a natural life. We urgently need to pool our collective understanding in this area, and this workshop was a remarkable coming together of virtually everyone working in this challenging subject.

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