Reports

HOPE Report No.34' 2004-11-28

SAGA 7 (The 7th International symposium of SAGA)
SAGA: Support for Afican/Asian Great Apes
Principal Organizer: Prof. Juichi Yamagiwa
Location: Clock Tower Memorial Hall, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Date: 12th-14th of November 2004
Attendance: Japanese and International students and researchers, as well as environmental educators affiliated with zoos, NGOs and schools.

This year's 7th SAGA meeting gathered a great number of people concerned with conservation and environmental education around the globe and focusing on a wide range of species, especially great apes. The lessons drawn from many different approaches were presented, such as environmental education in temples and a nature school focusing on knowledge and appreciation of wildlife in Japan. These experiences and ideas proved most enlightening for future conservation efforts aimed at great apes.
The first day of the conference focused on conservation and environmental education in both Japan and Africa. A series of talks were held by Japanese speakers. These stimulated a great deal of interest and sparked many questions from students and professional educators.

The afternoon of the 12th of November was dominated by poster presentations. These covered diverse topics ranging from the carrying of dead chimpanzee infants by their mothers at two long-term field sites - Mahale, Tanzania and Bossou, Guinea - to a systematic survey of chimpanzees in the transboundary region of Mali and Guinea. The first evening was crowned by a special lecture given by Dr. Jane Goodall, a world-renowned primatologist who has dedicated her life to the welfare and conservation of 
both wild and captive chimpanzees. This lecture exemplified the active presence of JGI (Jane Goodall Institute)-Japan and their continued efforts in the conservation of chimpanzees, especially in Africa. Dr. Chie Hashimoto from the Kyoto University Primate Research institute spoke about environmental education in the Kalinzu forest, Uganda. These activities, which primarily aim at school children in the region, are supported by JGI and have proved very successful so far.


Jane Goodall talking to the audience in Kyoto University


Jane Goodall at the lunch-time meeting of HOPE/21COE/SAGA7 organizing committee


The audience of Jane Goodall's talk in Kyoto University

 

On the 13th of November, Dr. Nathan Wolfe provided a thought-provoking talk about the impact of hunting of apes on the emergence of human infectious diseases. His project based in Cameroon, Central Africa, aims to raise awareness among the local populations, especially those directly involved in hunting and bushmeat butchering, as to risks attached to these activities. He seriously urged putting a halt to the hunting of apes, which is clearly both a conservation and public health imperative.

Dr. Tatyana Humle presented details concerning an ongoing project aimed at chimpanzee conservation in the Bossou/Nimba region of southeastern Guinea, West Africa. This project run by the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute aims to create a 'Green Passage' linking two separate forest blocks, both harboring chimpanzees. In some areas of Africa, chimpanzee densities are elevated but lack of connectivity between communities poses a serious threat to their long-term survival. Hopefully, the experience 
gained from this project will help initiate similar efforts in other regions.

Dr. Leszek Karczmarski described how coastal marine mammals face many similar conservation problems as primates, such as habitat destruction and fragmentation, as well as hunting. He presented a series of examples of successful and sustainable conservation projects, as well as the risks involved in ecotourism projects lacking proper monitoring and management. He suggests that the key factor to a successful eco-tourism project is to promote environmental education through direct involvement of the local 
government and communities.


The 3rd HOPE Lecture by Dr. Jane Goodall

Date: November 12th, 2004
Place: The clock tower of Kyoto University, Kyoto
Organized by HOPE, SAGA7, and JGI-Japan

Dr. Goodall started her talk by introducing us to the background of how she first developed an interest in animals. After capturing the audiences attentions with a story of her determination as a child to discover how chickens laid eggs, and waiting patiently for hours to observe this for herself (whilst her understanding mother frantically searched for her), she continued to explain how this fascination lead her to extensively read as much literature on animals as she could. She met with the renowned palaeontologist Louis Leakey and impressed him with her knowledge of the natural world and was invited to work with him. At this time there was virtually nothing known about Great Apes in the wild and Louis Leakey decided to send young enthusiastic people into the field to learn about each of the Great Apes. He chose Jane Goodall to go over to Africa and learn as much as she could about chimpanzees. At this time this was an almost ridiculous and impossible task for a young English girl to achieve on her own, and after a lot of convincing Jane was allowed to go to Africa to start her work on one condition, her mother must go with her. They both arrived in Tanzania and Jane started straight away trying to locate and catch glimpses of the mysterious Gombe chimpanzees which was by no means an easy task and she spent many months without any reward. After some time she started getting slowly accepted into the group and was able to observe all the fascinating social structures and behaviours of the chimpanzees'. After months of these careful observations she was under pressure to come up with something more unique. She knew that she had discovered the breakthrough that was needed when for the first time she witnessed a chimpanzee using a stick tool to fish for ants. This newly observed behaviour raised questions on the potential cognitive ability of chimpanzees and secured the continuation of her future research at Gombe which is now a successful long-term chimpanzee research site.

Jane continued to describe the colourful relationships that she developed with many of the Gombe chimpanzees, and how these special relationships have grown over the decades of research. Jane also voiced concern over the changes she has seen at Gombe since the research began, and how great clumps of the forest have simply disappeared. This habitat loss and fragmentation does not only affect the Gombe chimpanzees but is one of the greatest threats to the survival of wild chimpanzee populations all over Africa. Dr. Goodall talked enthusiastically about her projects to encourage forest re-growth at Gombe and informed the audience of the effectiveness of involving and educating local communities in forest regeneration projects.
Jane Goodall has also founded a global programme called 'Roots and Shoots'. This programme inspires youth of all ages to make a difference by becoming involved in caring for their environment, the care and concern of animals as well as playing an active part in their communities. When roots are strong enough they can break through walls, so if we all unite and all fight for the environment there is hope for the future. She talked about how places that seem to be totally devoid of life, even after a nuclear catastrophe, have an amazing ability to re-flourish. From this we must draw hope and continue to do all we can to ensure the long term survival of all the Great Ape populations and the habitat in which they live.

Dr. Goodall beautifully told the inspiring story of how an ordinary man saved the life of a captive adult male chimpanzee from drowning. In brief, this man risked his own life by jumping across a barrier into the water moat surrounding their enclosure and dragging the sinking chimpanzee onto dry land whilst the other displaying males were charging towards him. When questioned afterwards on what made him risk his own life to save the chimpanzee, he replied that when he looked into the chimpanzees' eyes it
was like looking into the eyes of a human, and he had no choice but to try and save his life. In conclusion, this touching story alerts me to our responsibilities to our closest living relatives. We owe them a future and must do all that we can to ensure their survival in their natural habitats.

Reported by Kim Hockings


Mr. H Junior