Revisiting ….. Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in Guinea.

I recently returned from visiting the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre (CCC) in Guinea, North West Africa.

The main reason for my visit was to check in with the team and see how the OAT funded camp upgrade works are getting along.  The biggest element of work is the new life-time care enclosure currently being constructed for 5 adult chimps that will never be released back into the wild. These chimps are far too humanised due to their previous lives in captivity and simply don’t have the skills to survive in the wild. They were stolen from their mothers at a very young age and were therefore never taught the basic skills. One is not supposed to have favourites, but I do, and his name is Coco. You may remember me mentioning him in my previous CCC blog last year.

As a baby, Coco had a terrible start in life where he was tied to a hotel reception desk and forced to smoke and drink beer to entertain hotel guests. When he got bigger he became too dangerous for this job and was tied to a tree in the hotel garden until one day he escaped and was then shot 7 times in the back by the police. Fortunately, he didn’t die and was rescued by the CCC which is where he has been living for the last 18 years. Coco who is the oldest chimp at CCC at 37 years old, is affectionately cared for by the CCC team. His nickname is ‘The President’. The new enclosure will be a lifetime care enclosure for Coco and the 4 other adult chimps. These 5 chimps are currently being held in cages as all of them over the years have become escape artists and are therefore too dangerous to leave in the current ageing enclosures. All 5 of these chimps will hopefully be integrated successfully and retire together in this semi-wild enclosure away from human beings. They will obviously be fed daily and will have free access to lots of trees and water. I can’t wait for the day I see all 5 of them (especially The President) living in their new enclosure and sleeping in the trees where they belong. We are hoping the new enclosure will be ready in September this year………..watch this space.

It was great to spend time with some of the younger chimps too, including Dave, one of the original rescues that we provided quarantine facilities for when we first got involved with CCC. 👍

enclosures3

The second reason for my recent trip to Guinea was to help some baboons and Patas monkeys that are currently being ‘cared for’ by National Park guards. They were all being held illegally by people in their gardens in the nearest town of Faranah, which is the closest town to the National Park. National Park staff confiscated these primates and brought them back to the entrance of the park which is where they are currently being held in unsatisfactory conditions. They are all tied to trees with ropes around their waists. The Haut Niger National Park manager, who is quite obviously an animal lover, asked CCC for help as he has no knowledge of primates and how best to release them to give them the best chance of survival in the wild.

GH

On my last visit CCC asked for my help which led me to contact Dr Cheryl Mvula of the Zambia Primate Project. Cheryl has been running ZPP for the last 15 years and to-date has overseen the successful release of over 600 primates back to the wild. The project manager on the ground for ZPP in Zambia is Cosmas Mumba. You may remember Cosmas coming to the UK 2 years ago when he was nominated for a Tusk Trust award and met HRH Prince William.

JK

I asked Cheryl (ZPP) to accompany me to Guinea to assess the situation on the ground with these tied up primates and advise on how best they should be released. I am happy to say that Cheryl has now put a plan together which is currently awaiting approval from the parks manager. If it comes together, which I am confident it will, it won’t be too long before these primates are released and are free to live out their lives in their natural habitat.

L

M

Sadly a 15 year old chimp named Rambo, pictured below, passed away very suddenly last week. Only 2 weeks ago I was with Rambo feeding him Marks & Spencer nuts which he loved and he seemed then to be a really happy chimp. He was rescued just over a year ago from an illegal zoo which was also a holding facility for all sorts of animals waiting to be trafficked out of Africa and into China and the Middle East, where there is a massive demand for all sorts of exotic animals. May you RIP Rambo 😢. Animals just like Rambo are suffering due to human demand to own them as pets and see them in zoos and circuses. Please can I ask you to think really hard about Rambo and all exotic animals the next time you consider visiting a zoo. They are jails for animals and there’s no other way of putting it!

N

 

HOT OFF THE PRESS!

I was just about to publish this blog when we received word from CCC to say that a new rescue / confiscation is on the way to them. Don’t know the full background as yet but will keep you posted.  Such a tiny baby…breaks my heart to think he was taken from his family at all, but even worse at such a young and vulnerable age 😢  Still, he is in the best possible hands now.  See pics below:

Chimp Recue

 

Family Trip to Asia

So far it’s been a very busy year for OAT on the travel front!  We have visited numerous projects we support in both Asia and Africa and its been great to have the rest of the family with me on some of the trips.

Animals Asia

Myself, Sue and Jonathan kicked it off with a visit to China and Vietnam in March, and I am pleased to say my nephew Jeff (17) and niece Nicola (12), joined us on this trip. We are hopeful they will carry the legacy of OAT forward into the next generation and continue to help all animals in need.

 

1 & 2 OATers with AA

Our trip included visits to Animals Asia’s bear sanctuaries in both China and Vietnam, who collectively home 100’s of bears rescued from the horrific bear bile industry.

4. beautiful moon bears

Everyone loved seeing the bears in their beautiful lush enclosures, enriched with plenty of activities to keep them stimulated. The Olsens even participated in hiding some of the bear food in the enclosures – when the bears were safely locked into their night enclosures of course – and it was great to see the bears foraging around afterwards looking for and then enjoying delicious pieces of fruit, vegetables and even mayonnaise and honey 🍯😋!

7 food

Animal Asia’s mission, is to continue their rescue, rehabilitation and advocacy work, until one day the inhumane practice of bear bile farming is outlawed completely. Through their tenacious efforts over the last 20 years, the practice was recently abolished in Vietnam and there are positive signs that China will follow suit in the future.

5. enjoying new life new home

6 proud supporters

Although Animals Asia’s main focus is bears, they deal with many welfare issues relating to other wild and domestic animals such as dogs, cats and elephants. Education is also a key element of their work which is crucial for changing peoples attitudes to animal welfare now, and in the future.

We are supporting a relatively new initiative of Animals Asia’s in Vietnam aimed at ending the disgraceful tourist activity of elephant back riding. More on this later as the project develops but if successful, this will be a real game changer. Whilst there, we visited some rescued elephants and those currently being used for riding. 😓

Ele chained8 rescued eles

 

Wilderness Foundation – Forever Wild Rhino; Vietnam be my Hero

Whilst in Vietnam, we also visited the offices of Forever Wild Rhino; Vietnam be my Hero, a project owned and operated by The Wilderness Foundation, whose aim is to reduce the demand for rhino horn by educating the next generation. A select number of students who have demonstrated their passion for conservation are bought to South Africa each year to see rhinos and other indigenous wildlife in their natural environment. They are then educated on the effects of the trade in rhino horn and the impact it is having on the survival of the species. On their return to Vietnam, they are tasked with becoming ambassadors / Rhino Heroes in their own country to contribute towards the preservation of the species. We were lucky enough to have met some of these student ambassadors in person, as well as the overall project managers. We were also privileged to meet the projects’ famous ambassador, Thanh Bui, pop idol, and founder of Soul Music Academy in Vietnam.  A totally selfless man who is passionate about wildlife conservation.

9. wild rhino

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

We also took the time to see first hand the conservation, rescue, rehab and release work of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. Another incredibly successful organisation that we support, founded and managed by Thai Nguyen Van who focuses on the preservation of pangolins and other small mammals.  OAT contributed to the build of their Pangolin quarantine quarters and we saw many precious pangolins in this facility. They were in the final stage of their rehabilitation programme being prepared for final release 😀 Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals in the world and Thai and his team do an incredible job.  They also have a first class education centre which we thoroughly enjoyed visiting.

10. SVW

After a full days work visiting many aspects of the project we enjoyed a collaborative gathering of OAT, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and Animals Asia 👍😀

11. cheers

 

This visit to Asia was an emotional experience, especially for my sister Sue, who established our family trust 3 years ago to help animals in need.  It really bought home to her and us the true extent of suffering that animals endure at the hands of human exploitation. Having said this, it was also very inspirational seeing first hand the work that amazing people and organisations do to combat the suffering and effect positive change in peoples attitude to animal welfare and conservation. It really reinforced our commitment to support such organisations, and to coin an Animals Asia phrase, “until the cruelty ends…”

Two more blogs to follow up shortly. One relating to my recent return to the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in Guinea and shortly thereafter, a trip to Zambia to visit the Elephant Orphanage Project 👍

 

 

NOWZAD – Afghanistan

Last week I returned from visiting an organisation called NOWZAD who are based in Kabul, Afghanistan. The founder of this NGO is Pen Farthing, who was a Sergeant with the British Royal Marines in Afghanistan. During his time there Pen witnessed the suffering of many animals who had been abandoned by people who had no choice but to pack their personal belongings (overnight) and run for their lives.

Me and Pen

This situation motivated Pen to set up the NOWZAD foundation which he registered 11 years ago and since then he and his colleagues have been rescuing and treating stray animals in need, who in some cases are literally starving to death on the streets. The animals they deal with are mainly dogs and cats but they also help with the care and welfare of donkeys, cows, horses and other domestic animals.

They have a clinic with five full-time locally trained vets plus a support team of 10+ people, a dog and cat shelter and with the help of OAT, and our good friends and founders of Good Heart Sanctuaries in the UK, they have recently set up a donkey sanctuary.

Looking for homes

Sanctuary, clinic & shelter

A happy rescued donkey…

NOWZAD only have the capacity to take in those animals that are injured and in need of long-term care.  These are the lucky ones, as they are well fed and looked after and then every attempt is made to re-home the dogs and cats. NOWZAD operate a successful adoption programme and well over 2,000 animals have been adopted since they started.  50% of these have been adopted by serving British and American soldiers who formed relationships with these stray animals whilst on the ground and Nowzad arranged for them to be reunited in their home countries. The same applies now to contractors living in Kabul who wish to take their new found friends from the streets home with them.

Whilst I was there, I ended up falling for two of the rescued dogs myself and my new family members (Hogan & Foxy) are currently being prepared to travel to their new forever home with me here in the U.K. in a few months time.

I CAN’T WAIT 😃👍

Hogan & Foxy

There are so many beautiful and loving dogs to choose from and they are all very friendly as you can see in the video clip below.  It is possible for anyone in the UK to adopt one of these rescued animals and there are currently 134 homeless dogs desperately in need of loving homes 😢.

If any of you are looking to provide a home for a dog or cat then please visit NOWZAD’s adoption page – www.nowzad.com/adoptions

Below is a video of the dog shelter, maybe you’ll spot your new four legged friend 😉.

NOWZAD also operate a Capture, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release programme for street dogs and cats in an attempt to reduce the growing population of strays, which is a serious problem. Rabies is common in Afghanistan which makes most people scared of street dogs and cats and children are taught from a very young age to stay well away from them and are encouraged to throw stones.  I witnessed this first hand which was distressing to see. It is heart breaking to see so many animals trying to survive and most of them I saw were in terrible condition.

More recently, NOWZAD have developed a community outreach programme that helps suffering animals such as horses, donkeys & cattle found in migrant / refugee camps.  I was taken to visit one of these camps which was upsetting to say the least.

Donkey

The people in these camps are not really refugees. They have been misplaced by the conflict and are mostly from Helmand Province in the south of Afghanistan where the war still continues.  These people live in terrible conditions which can only be described as slums. Both humans and animals are in a awful situation and this is where NOWZAD have stepped in to help. They visit six migrant camps on a regular basis and provide veterinary help to the animals and advise the owners on animal husbandry and welfare. They are currently looking at developing an incentive programme to further encourage good animal care.

We are incredibly proud to be supporting such an amazing and humbling organisation. They are doing an awesome job dealing with many animal welfare issues and in a very hostile environment. Operating in Afghanistan is far from safe and the situation is extremely volatile. The day I arrived a suicide bomber blew himself up killing 11 people in the process.

Pen, Hannah and the entire NOWZAD team are to be applauded for their incredible work and bravery. If any of you reading this would like to provide some support, however little, we would be incredibly grateful. You can donate here www.nowzad.com/donate
my last day

 

 

Christmas Cheer & Plans for the New Year

Gala Events

OAT have been getting into the Christmas spirit over the past month or so. We attended Animals Asia’s annual gala dinner at Plaisterers Hall in the City and Born Free’s “Beyond the Bars”  event at The Royal Horticultural Halls in Victoria. We were joined by lots of our close friends and supporters and everyone gave generously to the causes for which we are really grateful.  Highlight for me was meeting one of Born Free’s most treasured Patron’s and committed animal warrior – the gorgeous Joanna Lumley 😍 and I know Sue & Polly were thrilled to see their heroine Jill Robinson, Founder of Animals Asia.

Jill & Joanna

Trips on the horizon!

PAMS FoundationTanzania

In December The Olsen’s are off to Tanzania where they will take time during their holiday to visit one of the projects we are supporting through PAMS. We met with the founders of PAMS early last year, Wayne Lotter and Krissie Clark and learnt about the amazing conservation work they do in Tanzania. We agreed to support an elephant and rhino protection project they were seeking funding for. Tragically earlier this year Wayne was murdered and the whole conservation world is still mourning and in shock at this loss. This was a sure sign that he was being hugely successful in his anti-trafficking work. However, his death will not be in vain, his legacy and work will continue through his very able and committed partner Krissie and the rest of the PAMS  organisation.  No doubt Sue will share some pictures and updates on the elephant and rhino project in due course.

Chimpanzee Conservation Centre (CCC) – Guinea

In January I will be heading back to Guinea to see what’s been happening at the Chimp sanctuary since I was last there in April 2017. As you may remember, after my last visit OAT decided to extend a significant grant to CCC to enable them to improve and extend their facility.  We are also delighted  to say they we were able to encourage other like minded individuals and organisations to support their work as well. A big thank you to David Shepherd Wildlife Trust and Good Heart Sanctuaries for coming on board and to Tusk Trust for continuing their valuable support.

Some of the improvements already being enjoyed are:

– New large enclosure for Coco – my favourite chimp 😉 – almost complete (OAT)
– Improved night enclosure for babies (GHS)
– Extended awareness programme for local communities (DSWT)
– New site being researched for the next release troop (TUSK)
– New technology including vital radios for base to field communication (OAT)

CCC pics

Lots more improvements still to come 😀

I am also very excited to tell you that Luke Gamble of World Veterinary Service (WVS) will be coming along to Guinea with me in January.   Luke has agreed to help with a much needed upgrade of CCC’s veterinary clinic at the sanctuary will provide on going support, supplies and advice. Being a very experienced vet himself Im sure CCC will benefit hugely. Thank you Luke 👍

 

Luke Gamble

New Rescue

Sierra is a typical example of the chimps that CCC deal with. She was recently rescued at a port by Guinean authorities in Conakry and was about to be shipped out of Guinea when her trader was arrested and Sierra was confiscated.  She is in good hands but as always, additional chimps means that additional care and facilities are required. If you would like to help facilitate Sierra’s rehabilitation programme please let us know or donate directly via our website – www.olsenanimaltrust.org/donate

Choose Chimpanzee Consevation Centre from the dropdown project list on the donation form and your full contribution will go straight to helping Sierra. Please don’t forget to fill in your address and tick yes to Gift Aid if you are a tax paying resident of the UK.

Sierra

Christmas Countdown

We hope you are full of festive cheer and are already enjoying our OAT advent calendar! If you haven’t seen it yet you can access it by clicking here and following OAT on Instagram. Each day we share a new animal picture and you can open the calendar (by swiping right) to reveal an interesting fact inside.

As this is the time for giving please share this, and our other social media pages with your friends and family! Many thanks.

Here are the links:

Until we “speak” again in the new year…

image

 

 

UK Ivory Ban

Last Saturday I attended a ‘Silent Protest’ in Parliament Square, London, urging the government to ban the UK domestic trade in ivory.  Approx 300 people participated and it was a great success. The event was organised by Action for Elephants UK. There were a few prominent speakers on the day including Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation.

On the 6 October the government announced a proposal to ban ivory trade in the UK following endless pressure to do so from conservationists worldwide, including Prince William. Its been a long time coming and in fact only days before the protest, the UK Government made their announcement.  So, NOW is the time we should all put further pressure on the UK Government to follow through with their promise and make sure they Close the Deal once and for all!!

Protestors were asked to stand in a diamond shape, facing outwards holding fake elephant tusks and rhino horns dripping in Blood.

 Standing up against the trade

The power of silence

Standing in silence for 30 mins was strangely powerful. It certainly attracted a lot of attention from the general public and tourists passing by and hopefully the Government across the road at Westminster! The media and many tourists were taking photos which will hopefully result in the message being widely spread.

Below are copies of the letters which were hand delivered to Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. I thought I would share these with you as they highlight why it is so vital that countries outside of Africa, like the UK, ban their domestic trade in ivory if we are to save elephants and rhinos from extinction.   Below the letter are the signatures of NGO’s, MP’s and conservationists (including OAT) who officially backed this proposal.

Statement and letters from Action for Elephants UK:

Breaking news: UK government announces proposal for full ban on UK ivory trade

On 6 October the government announced a proposal for a full ban on ivory trade in the UK. To acknowledge this welcome news, we wrote a second letter to Theresa May, which we delivered to Downing St on 7 October  along with the open letter below that called for this action.

The letters were delivered to No. 10 Downing Street by a group of conservationists – Will Travers (president of Born Free Foundation), Duncan McNair (CEO, Save the Asian Elephants), Rachael Hewish (IFAW), John Stephenson (CEO, Stop Ivory), Rory Young (founder, Chingeta Wildlife), and Joanne Ibbitson (Action for Elephants UK) – and has been signed by over 150 NGOs, conservationists, MPs, and other prominent individuals.

Letter to Theresa May acknowledging proposal for a full ban

7 October 2017

Dear Prime Minister,

We were thrilled to hear the news of the government’s proposal for a full ban on ivory trade in the UK. We’re adding this cover letter to acknowledge this momentous step and to thank you and your government for the commitment to ending the trade and to move forward with the consultation.

The attached letter has been signed by around 200 NGOs, conservationists, MPs and others, and shows the strength of feeling behind the call for a ban. While every signatory will be welcoming DEFRA’s announcement, we know that there is still the consultation process ahead and that strong representations will be made by the antiques trade to try and water down the ban and maximise the exemptions. We hope the government will not weaken in its resolve and that the ‘ban will prohibit the sale of ivory items of all ages’, as stated by DEFRA.

Once implemented, this ban will put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to end the trade in ivory that has fuelled the catastrophic decline of elephants, and will enable it to stand proud on the international stage and as the host of the 2018 conference on the illegal wildlife trade.

We look forward with much hope and expectation that your government will follow through with a comprehensive ban on ivory sales in the UK as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Maria Mossman
Action for Elephants UK

 

Open letter written before the announcement

7 October 2017

Dear Prime Minister,

Today marked the fourth annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, with people in over 100 cities across the world uniting in the call to save these endangered iconic species and to ban all trade in their tusks and horns. Unless we put a stop to such trade across the globe, the poaching of these animals will continue until they disappear altogether from the wild.

Here in London we marked the day with a silent protest at Parliament Square, to remember the hundreds of thousands of elephants and rhinos killed by poachers, and to call on the government to introduce a ban on the domestic trade in ivory without delay.

We, along with many members of the public, were bitterly disappointed to see the promise of an ivory ban dropped from your new manifesto for the first time in three elections. We hope you will now bring forward the legislation needed to implement a ban as a matter of urgency.

An ivory trade ban has huge public support, with 95% of respondents polled in a YouGov survey (April 2017) saying they had no interest in buying antique ivory. Among MPs, 96% are in favour of an ivory ban (YouGov poll June 2017). Clearly it’s an enormously popular proposal. The only dissenting voice is the antiques trade.

Ivory makes up only a tiny proportion of the antiques market in the UK. The current laws that attempt to regulate the legal trade are quite simply not fit for purpose. We’ve seen that ivory can be artificially aged, and without proper testing (which is prohibitively costly) anyone can claim an item they sell is antique. Evidence suggests that products manufactured from ‘new’ ivory are relatively easily passed off as antiques and widely traded within and from the UK. Any legal ivory trade provides a cover for illegal trade, with loopholes and weak enforcement of laws allowing ivory of more recent date to find its way to market stalls and antiques shops all over the country.

The argument used by the antiques trade that an ivory ban would harm Britain’s cultural heritage is unfounded. Advocates for a ban do not call for the destruction or confiscation of any ivory items in existing collections or personal possession. We support exemptions in certain categories, such as allowing museums to obtain and display items of historical and cultural interest, and family heirlooms of personal value would not be affected either. However, the commercial trade must be ended if we are to truly play our part in the cessation of this terrible trade.

The harm of the UK’s ivory trade extends far beyond these borders. As the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory, the UK is responsible for stimulating consumer demand globally, and especially in Hong Kong and China, two of the largest markets for legal and illegal ivory. Both countries have committed to closing their domestic ivory markets, and the US has also brought in a ban. The UK should show solidarity not only with these countries but with African countries calling for a global ban, and should honour the agreement it made at CITES CoP17 to close down all domestic ivory markets.

The UK will be hosting the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in 2018, and if a domestic ivory ban is in place by then it will greatly enhance the UK’s credibility and stature as a global leader in fighting this trade.

When we wrote to you last year we highlighted the loss of around 144,000 elephants killed over the previous 7 years, and the alarming declines in African elephant populations revealed in the Great Elephant Census. The sheer scale of such slaughter is difficult to comprehend. Elephant poaching in recent decades represents the most brutal and sustained wildlife massacre of our time. The wholesale and indiscriminate killing has shattered social structures and family bonds, erasing generations of accumulated knowledge and survival skills. If poaching continues at current rates, elephants will disappear completely across the African continent, possibly within our lifetimes.

Prime Minister, we call on you to send a message to the world that the UK will not stand by while tens of thousands of elephants are slaughtered every year. We urge your government to take immediate steps to implement a ban on all commercial ivory trade in the UK, starting with the requisite consultation.

We’re at a critical crossroads for elephants’ survival. Future generations deserve to share the world with these magnificent creatures. Prime Minister, this is your chance to take a firm stand that will be saluted at home and the world over, and to ensure the UK plays its part in protecting wild elephants for generations to come.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Sincerely,

Maria Mossman
Action for Elephants UK

actionforelephants@gmail.com

And the undersigned:

Dr Jane Goodall DBE
Founder the Jane Goodall Institute
& UN Messenger of Peace

Lord Hague of Richmond

Duncan McNair
CEO, Save The Asian Elephants

Charlie Mayhew MBE
Chief Executive Tusk Trust

Virginia McKenna OBE
Founder, Born Free Foundation

Ingrid Newkirk
Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Dr Mark Pilgrim
CEO, Chester Zoo

Mary Rice
Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency

John Sauven
Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Founder & Chair, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

John Stephenson
CEO, Stop Ivory

Will Travers OBE
President, Born Free Foundation

Rory Young
Co-founder, Chengeta Wildlife

Felix Olusola Abayomi
Founder/CEO, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative, Nigeria

Rosemary Alles
Co-founder, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Damian Aspinall
Chairman, The Aspinall Foundation

Bill Bailey
Actor and author

Jonathan Bartley
Joint Leader, UK Green Party

Claire Bass
Executive Director, Humane Society International UK

Sport Beattie
Founder and CEO, Game Rangers International

Reinhard Behrend
Founder and Director, Rainforest Rescue

Prof David Bellamy
Conservation Foundation

Karen Botha
CEO, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Scott Blais
Co-founder, Global Sanctuary for Elephants

Richard Bonham
Director of Operations, Big Life Foundation

Rob Brandford
Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust iworry Campaign

Anne Brummer
CEO Save Me Trust

Gordon Buchanan
Wildlife Photographer and Conservationist

Gaston Buh Wung
GIS Coordinator, WWF Cameroon

Nicky Campbell OBE
Broadcaster and journalist

Jilly Cooper
Author

Brian Cox
Actor

Jan Creamer
President, Animal Defenders International (ADI)

Dr Mahinda Deegalle
Buddhist scholar, Reader in Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University

Lee Durrell
Honorary Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

David Drew, MP (Lab)
Stroud

Dr Keith Dutlow, BVSc MRCVS & Dr Lisa Marabini, BVSc MRCVS
Directors, AWARE Trust, Zimbabwe

Peter Egan
Actor and Animal Activist

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Journalist, broadcaster

Daniela Freyer
Co-Founder, Pro Wildlife

Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.
Elephant Scientist, In Defense of Animals

Ricky Gervais
Writer and producer

Inga Gibson
The Aloha Coalition

Raabia Hawa
Founder and CEO, Walk with Rangers & Ulinzi Africa Foundation

Mark Hiley
Co-founder, National Park Rescue

Iris Ho
Wildlife Program Manager
Humane Society International

Dr Lynn Johnson
Founder, Breaking The Brand & Founder, Nature Needs More

Stanley Johnson
Author and Co-Chairman, Environmentalists for Europe

Dr Trevor Jones
Director, Southern Tanzania Elephant Program

Dr Paula Kahumbu
CEO Wildlife Direct

Max and Josh Kauderer
Founders, Elephant Highway

Laurene K. Knowles
Founder, President Elemotion Foundation

Rob Laidlaw
Executive Director, Zoocheck Inc.

Phyllis C. Lee
Professor of Psychology
Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, University of Stirling

Joanna Lumley
Actress

Barbara Mackraz
Founder & Director, Olive Seed Foundation

Philip Mansbridge
Regional Director – United Kingdom
IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

Dr Brian May CBE
Save Me Trust

Dr Niall McCann
Co-founder, National Park Rescue

Chris Mercer
Director, Campaign Against Canned Hunting

Christine Mulholland
Founder, Generation Awakening

Dr. Katarzyna Nowak
Research Associate Zoology & Entomology
University of the Free State, Qwaqwa, South Africa

Sue Olsen
Founder, Olsen Animal Trust

Paul Oxton
Founder/Director – South Africa
WHWF – Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

Asgar Pathan
Executive Director-Care for the Wild Kenya

Donalea Patman
Founder, For the Love of Wildlife

Joaquin Phoenix
Actor

Hannah Pollock & Jamie Unwin
Founders of Stand Up for Nature

Ruth Powys Ganesh
CEO, Elephant Family

Ian Redmond OBE
Independent Wildlife Biologist
Co-Founder of the Elefriends campaign (1989) and Ambassador
for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

Dan Richardson
Actor and conservationist

Linda Rimington
Co-Founder, Save the Asian Elephants

Professor Alice Roberts
Biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster

John Roberts
Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation

Caroline Ruane
CEO, Naturewatch Foundation

Priya Sawhney
Communications Director
Direct Action Everywhere

William Shatner
Actor

Susan Sheward MBE
Founder, Orangutan Appeal UK

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans

Elizabeth Steinbart
Founder and Director of Elephantopia

The Earl of Stockton
Co-founder, Save the Asian Elephants

Anneka Svenska
Wildlife Broadcaster & Conservationist

Yvette Taylor
Executive Director – Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization

Janet Thomas
Director, Animal Aid Abroad

Thomas Töpfer
Chairman, Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V.

Horace Trubridge
General Secretary, Musicians’ Union

Vera Weber
President and CEO, Fondation Franz Weber

Peter H Wrege
Director, Elephant Listening Project
Cornell University

Ruth Powys Ganesh
CEO, The Elephant Family

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans

Janet Thomas
Director, Animal Aid Abroad

Peter H Wrege
Director, Elephant Listening Project
Cornell University

Members of Parliament

Heidi Allen (Con)
South Cambridgeshire

Sir David Amess (Con)
Southend West

Ian Austin (Lab)
Dudley North

Hilary Benn (Lab)
Leeds Central

Richard Benyon (Con)
Newbury

Clive Betts (Lab)
Sheffield South East

Roberta Blackman-Woods (Lab)
City of Durham

Alan Brown (SNP)
Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Nick Brown (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne East

Lisa Cameron (SNP)
East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

Alan Campbell (Lab)
Tynemouth

Ronnie Campbell (Lab)
Blyth Valley

Alex Chalk (Con)
Cheltenham

Sarah Champion (Lab)
Rotherham

Bambos Charalambous (Lab)
Enfield Southgate

Ann Clwyd (Lab)
Cynon Valley

Vernon Coaker (Lab)
Gedling

Julie Cooper (Lab)
Burnley

Rosie Cooper (Lab)
West Lancashire

Sir David Crausby (Lab)
Bolton North East

Mary Creagh (Lab)
Wakefield

Edward Davey (LibDem)
Kingston and Surbiton

Geraint Davies (Lab Co-op)
Swansea West

Anneliese Dodds (Lab Co-op)
Oxford East

David Drew (Lab)
Stroud

Rosie Duffield (Lab)
Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages

Clive Efford (Lab)
Eltham

Julie Elliott (Lab)
Sunderland Central

Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab)
Poplar and Limehouse

Caroline Flint (Lab)
Don Valley

Hugh Gaffney (Lab)
Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

Ruth George (Lab)
High Peak

Patricia Gibson (SNP)
North Ayrshire & Arran

Mary Glindon (Lab)
North Tyneside

Zac Goldsmith (Con)
Richmond Park and Kingston North

Bill Grant (Con)
Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock

Kate Green (Lab)
Stretford and Urmston

Andrew Gwynne (Lab)
Denton and Reddish

Helen Hayes (Lab)
Dulwich and West Norwood

Sue Hayman (Lab)
Workington

Sharon Hodgson (Lab)
Washington and Sunderland West

Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)
Luton North

Alister Jack (Con)
Dumfries and Galloway

Dan Jarvis (Lab)
Barnsley Central

Andrea Jenkyns (Con)
Morley and Outwood

Darren Jones (Lab)
Bristol North West

Gerald Jones (Lab)
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

Graham Jones (Lab)
Hyndburn

Sir Greg Knight (Con)
East Yorkshire

Peter Kyle (Lab)
Hove and Portslade

Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru)
Ceredigion

Pauline Latham (Con)
Mid Derbyshire

Karen Lee (Lab)
Lincoln

Caroline Lucas (Joint Leader UK Green Party)
Brighton

Justin Madders (Lab)
Ellesmere Port and Neston

Kerry McCarthy (Lab)
Bristol East

Stuart McDonald (SNP)
Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

John McDonnell (Lab)
Hayes and Harlington

Catherine McKinnell (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne North

John Mann (Lab)
Bassetlaw

Gordon Marsden (Lab)
Blackpool South

Sandy Martin (Lab)
Ipswich

Rachael Maskell (Lab Co-op)
York Central

Carol Monaghan (SNP)
Glasgow North West

Madeleine Moon (Lab)
Bridgend

Grahame Morris (Lab)
Easington

Lisa Nandy (Lab)
Wigan

Albert Owen (Lab)
Ynys Mon

Owen Paterson (Con)
North Shropshire

Mike Penning (Con)
Hemel Hempstead

Matthew Pennycook (Lab)
Greenwich and Woolwich

Luke Pollard (Lab Co-op)
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

Angela Rayner (Lab)
Ashton-under-Lynne

Ellie Reeves (Lab)
Lewisham West and Penge

Gavin Robinson (DUP)
Belfast East

Andrew Rosindell (Con)
Romford

Jim Shannon (DUP)
Strangford

Tommy Sheppard (SNP)
Edinburgh East

Tulip Siddiq (Lab)
Hampstead and Kilburn

Angela Smith (Lab)
Penistone and Stocksbridge

Jeff Smith (Lab)
Manchester Withington

Laura Smith (Lab)
Crewe and Nantwich

Alex Sobel (Lab)
Leeds North West

John Spellar (Lab)
Warley

Jo Stevens (Lab)
Cardiff Central

David Tredinnick (Con)
Bosworth

Keith Vaz (Lab)
Leicester East

Catherine West (Lab)
Hornsey and Woodgreen

Chris Williamson (Lab)
Derby North

House of Lords

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Young of Old Scone

MEPs

Stuart Agnew (UKIP)
Eastern Counties

Catherine Bearder (LibDem)
South East England

Richard Corbett (Lab)
Yorkshire and the Humber

Jacqueline Foster (Con)
North West England

Ashley Fox (Con)
South West England and Gibraltar

Julie Girling (Con)
South West England

John Howarth (Lab)
South East England
Jean Lambert (Green)
London

Linda McAvan (Lab)
Yorkshire and The Humber

Emma McClarkin (Con)
East Midlands

David Martin (Lab)
Scotland

Clare Moody (Lab)
South West and Gibraltar

Keith Taylor (Green)
South East England

 

Supporting The Wilderness Foundation in South Africa & Vietnam

Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa

I have just returned from South Africa where I completed the well known Wilderness Trail together with 11 Vietnamese high school students. OAT recently agreed to support a rhino horn demand reduction programme, operated by the Wilderness Foundation which was set up in 1967 by Dr Ian Player, world renowned conservationist.

The objective of this particular project is to educate the youth of Vietnam and to enable them to become effective ambassadors for wild rhino in their home country who are the biggest buyers of rhino horn.  Thousands of children are invited to enter an essay competition explaining their knowledge of the situation and why they would like to become a rhino hero. The top 11 senior students are selected and their journey begins with a visit to South Africa to view rhino and other wildlife in their natural habitat, as well as orphaned rhino whose families have been killed by poachers.

Arrive, pack & ready

In addition to the 5 day trail, they also attend a workshop where they are assisted to come up with their own plans on how they can educate and influence people in their own countries on their return.  They are given further support to deliver presentations and spread the word by personnel within The Wilderness Foundation’s office on the ground in Ho Chi Minn city.

workshop

Having witnessed first hand the children’s reaction to what they saw and experienced on the wilderness trail,  I have no doubt they will become committed ambassadors and influencers in this and future generations which is exactly what is needed!

It was an amazing experience for everyone taking part. We followed the Black Imfolozi river carrying all our own food and equipment and every night we slept under the stars. We took it in turns to keep watch and keep the fire alight to discourage wildlife coming into camp – very exciting for children who had no previous experience of the African wilderness.

Sleeping, water, warm

We were privileged to see lots of beautiful wildlife including two herds of four white rhino (up close), lion, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu, hyena, hippo and many species of antelope as well as some spectacular bird life and also tracks of a black rhino.

walking, rhinos

In contrast – seeing two rescued baby rhino orphans on the last day of the trip, was very hard hitting and emotional, especially for the children, but this is the harsh reality that needed to be faced. It very quickly became clear to all that these are the real victims of the horrendous trade in rhino horn.

Here’s a short clip from the orphanage visit…

 

 

There is nothing like reconnecting with nature to put your life into perspective and this experience (including all my blisters) has been a fantastic one.

great project, proudly sponsored

We are very proud to be supporting this project and if you would like to learn more about it first hand, take a look at their website http://www.wildrhino.org/

Hamba Kahle (Go well in Zulu)

For further Information on this and other projects supported by OAT please refer to our website https://www.olsenanimaltrust.org/

 

 

 

 

The Long Road Home…

This time it’s me (Sue) on the road and not Dave our OATOKE!  OATESS maybe?? 😗

Lion Rescue Trip

I have just returned from my third lion rescue trip with the Born Free Foundation. I must say I thought that it would become easier to deal with the roller coaster of emotions that such a journey evokes. I was very wrong, it has been just as emotional each time.

Its disheartening to think that these animals have been imprisoned for their entire life for human entertainment, but also heart-warming to know that there are amazing people and organisations that care about them. They not only care but make it their mission to give the luckier ones the dignity they deserve and provide them with a more suitable home.  Rescues also raise awareness for the plight of all wild animals in captivity and hopefully one day they will be considered as the sentient beings they are, and the exploitation will stop.

In the meantime, organisations like The Born Free Foundation, with the help of their supporters, including OAT and friends of OAT,  will continue their vital rescue work.

This most recent journey involved two lions rescued from a zoo and private ownership in Spain and France. Nelson (17) was from a French Zoo and Ciam (2) was confiscated from his owner who had kept him caged up in his back garden! Nelson and Ciam spent the last 3 years and 18 months respectively at a rehabilitation facility in Belgium Natuurhulpcentrum where they have been taken good care of whilst awaiting the go ahead to travel to Born Free’s big cat sanctuary located within Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

The following pictures will tell the story……

Nelson & Ciam Crates

Lions loaded

I was delighted that on this occasion that my close friend Alicia Hosking who had expressed an interest in helping, came along on the trip. She not only gave her time but also contributed personally to the rescue costs and I am proud to say we are now jointly covering the costs of lifetime care for both Ciam & Nelson.

Rally for Conservation

You may remember that another close friend, David Simpson, accompanied me on a previous rescue of lions Black & Jora a few years ago. Inspired by this trip the Simpson family recently embarked upon a fund raising event, together with OAT. The purpose being to assist with the Ciam & Nelson rescue and contribute to general animal welfare and conservation work undertaken at Shamwari. It was a huge success and thanks to our very generous guests we were able to donate a significant sum of money.

Rally & Max & Jeff

Cars & bids

Funds raised and then the journey begins…

On the way

Nelson’s last health check before the final leg of the journey….

And finally…they are back in Africa where they belong!Ciam at Shamwari

Nelson at Shamwari

Open spaces for them to explore and new smells and noises to get used to, some of which may stir some distant ancestral memories.  All of this in the comfort and safety of their purpose built enclosures at the Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.  Sadly, Ciam and Nelson cannot be returned to the wild as humans have robbed them of their natural survival instincts.  However, they will be very well taken care of by the Born Free team at Shamwari and fly the ambassadorial flag for other wild animals in captivity 🦁 🐒 🐘