Rehabilitation & Re-wilding at Shamwari

A few weeks ago, I travelled to Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa, to visit their brand new Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

It has been built to accommodate injured, sick or orphaned animals in their rehabilitation process, and has been designed to minimise human contact and thereby maximise re-wilding success. Only small numbers of pre-arranged visitors will be allowed to visit the facility which incorporates an information/education centre and cleverly designed hides, which provide an opportunity to view animals from a distance without disturbing them.

Critically injured, and sick animals, will continue to be treated at the existing veterinary centre on the reserve until they are ready for the rehabilitation and re-wilding process.

The facility is truly spectacular and we are so pleased for Johan and his team that their vision has finally come to fruition.  OAT are proud supporters of the project and we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our close friends, Alicia & Simon Hosking and Janey & David Simpson, for generously matching our contribution and thereby enabling its creation.

Here is a brilliant 2 min video and some pics to give you an idea of what its all about!

new rehab


Extinction memorial

inside centre

Whilst there, I was privileged to be able to take part in the process of moving some of the animals from the veterinary centre to the new facility. An amazing opportunity for which I will be forever grateful!

4 ibis pics

baby eles

dave and ele



First European Elephant Sanctuary!

Earlier this month I went to visit Elephant Haven European Elephant Sanctuary (EHEES) a project OAT are very proud to be supporting.

It is situated near the town of Limoges in France.  The sanctuary was founded in 2016 by Sofie Goetghebeur & Tony Verhulst, who collectively, have over 30 years experience working with captive wild animals, particularly elephants. The concept was driven by their passion to provide retired circus elephants and indeed any elephants in need of sanctuary, with a purpose built facility that is suited to their needs. The emphasis is on the needs of the animals and not the public.

Sophie & Tony

The Issues

There are almost 700 elephants currently living in circuses, zoos and other captive environments in mainland Europe.  Due to increased public awareness of captive animal welfare issues, a number of countries have already imposed a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and it seems many more will follow suit. Also, many zoos who are not meeting the required welfare standards are also under scrutiny, and laws are clamping down on the illegal import and trade in wildlife. All of this is positive news for wildlife going forward, but the knock on effect will mean that many animals are, and will continue to be, in need of appropriate rehoming. Many other animals, big cats for example, are able to be relocated to large sanctuaries in their native countries, but with elephants, this is simply not possible.   



Recognising the impending need to provide a facility that is purpose built for retired and rescued elephants, Sofie and Tony looked for an ideal situation with adequate space to create very large elephant paddocks, build large elephant barns and ideally in a warm climate.  I am pleased to say they have succeeded, and Elephant Haven European Elephant Sanctuary is due to open its doors, and be ready to receive their first elephants in September 2019. 

Imagine waking up one morning and deciding to build Europe’s first elephant sanctuary, quit your job, move country and embark upon your mission. Most people, including their families, thought Sofie & Tony had lost their minds.  But together they stayed focussed, and they are now only a few months away from turning their dream into a reality.

Building 1.jpg


Sofie & Tony have already managed to secure generous grants and donations from a number of animal welfare organisations including OAT, World Animal Protection, and Bridget Bardot, and a number of individual supporters have, and continue to support them. Corporate sponsors have provided much of the equipment and tools required for the construction work and fencing, and I was also very encouraged to learn that a large number of volunteers continue to give their time, expertise and labour to help this amazing project.


The development of the project hasn’t been without its challenges and I am sure there will be many obstacles to overcome in the future.  However, considering the passion and dedication of Sofie and Tony, I have no doubt they will succeed, and will soon be providing many elephants in Europe with the compassionate care, respect and dignity they deserve.  OAT are certainly in it for the long run and will be behind them all the way!

A few extra pics from my trip.



OAT supported Projects collaborating in Zambia

I have just returned from Zambia where I was visiting 2 great projects that OAT has been supporting for a few years now:

Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP), who rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants (mainly victims of poaching and human wildlife conflict) and the Zambia Primate Project (ZPP) who rescue and rehabilitate primates that have been illegally held captive as pets, for bush meat or are destined for the pet trade. Both organisations work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate and release these animals back into the wild.

Travelling with me on this trip was Johan Joubert & Megan Sinclair. Johan is the Director of Wildlife & senior vet at Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape – South Africa and Megan is his senior vet nurse and assistant.


Although Shamwari already have a sophisticated veterinary unit for critically injured and sick wildlife, they are in the process of building a new Rescue, Rehabilitation & Soft Release facility for animals that need minor medical assistance with minimum human interaction before being prepared for release. OAT and friends of OAT have contributed towards the building of this new facility which is scheduled for completion in April this year.  In the spirit of collaboration, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce Johan and Megan to the rescue, rehabilitation and re-wilding projects we support in Zambia so that they can share knowledge and establish contact for the future.

Our first stop was EOP’s Lilayi Elephant Nursery facility in Lusaka where young orphans spend the first few years of their rehabilitation process. Thereafter we travelled to Camp Phoenix, the soft release facility in Kafue National Park, where the elephants progress for the next stage of their rehabilitation.

J&M meet the team

assisting Nkala

Here is a very cute video of the youngest eles coming into the Lilayi Nursery boma for their morning milk after a morning of grazing in the bush…


After our time with EOP we went on to meet the ZPP team at their re-wilding and release facility for primates, also located within Kafue National Park.


This trip was a huge success and the Shamwari veterinary team learned a great deal from both EOP and ZPP.    We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome, as not only will Shamwari’s wild and injured animals benefit from this trip, but all three parties have now established contact and will be able to share knowledge and experience going forward.  A big thank to EOP and ZPP for being so helpful, willing and hospitable.  A big thank you to to Mukambi Lodge for accommodating us all and making us so welcome.

A few more pics from our trip 😉


First visit to Uganda

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. It was my first visit to this beautiful country and I can honestly say I had one of the best wildlife viewing experiences to date.

The purpose of my visit was to spend time with the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) who have been operating there for approx 20yrs and are dedicated to protecting Uganda’s national parks, protected areas and conservancies.  Uganda has 10 national parks, Murchison Falls being the biggest, which is 3,800sq kilometres.

01 Murchison Falls

02 Giraffe & Nile

03 Big Tusker

In the 1960’s Murchison NP was one of the best places to see wildlife on the African continent due to its abundance of wildlife. Sadly over the last few decades poaching has taken its toll and wildlife numbers have been drastically reduced.

I met and spent time with various members of UCF and The Uganda Wildlife Authority UWA  including Mike Keigwin Trustee & Project Lead of UCF and UWA’s (Uganda Wildlife Authority) senior wardens and wildlife veterinarian.  I was also privileged to meet Julias Obwana, the warden in charge of law enforcement for Murchison Falls Conservation Area and winner of Africa’s Best Ranger at the 2018 Tusk awards 👍🏻😀.

UCF were seeking support to set up a mobile veterinary clinic (vehicle + equipment) that will patrol Murchison Falls NP on a daily basis and be available to respond to wildlife in need.  The UWA constantly receive calls from tourists and park rangers reporting snared and injured animals, but sadly they are seldom in a position to attend to these victims due to the lack of a vehicle and equipment. In addition, UCF anticipate a further increase in wildlife injuries and displacement due to numerous mining developments in an around the park.

Subsequent to my visit OAT has agreed to support UCF & UWA in this area and we are hopeful that a fully equipped veterinary vehicle will be up and running within the next month or so. I will post pics when we receive them. 👍

04 Dave with team

05 Park Rangers

06 De-snaring

OAT are very proud to be supporting UCF and UWA and we look forward to developing a long and successful relationship.  We wish them every success with the wonderful work they do, protecting Uganda’s wilderness and the beautiful wildlife that inhabits it.

Just returned from Zambia visiting the Elephant Orphanage Project, more on this shortly……🐘



Coco is Free !!!

Hi All,

You may remember my visits to The Chimpanzee Conservation Centre (CCC) in Guinea (North West Africa) over the last 2 years and my story about Coco, a very special resident chimp there, who stole my heart. I met Coco on both my visits and fell in love with him.  He is my all-time favourite animal – don’t tell my dogs Shooosh🤫🤫

3 x coco before a

After being taken from his mother in the wild as a small baby he was kept by hotel owners and tied to a reception desk to entertain guests.. He was even taught to smoke and drink beer as a form of amusement.  At the age of 18 he became too big and dangerous to manage inside the hotel so he was tied to a tree in the garden, again to entertain guests. One day he managed to break free and was shot 5 times in the back and legs by the military police for fear he would harm someone. It was at this stage that CCC took him in and nursed him to recovery. He has lived at the sanctuary since 2001.

Coco is 39yrs old now and has been living at CCC for the past 18 years. Sadly he has spent a lot of this time on his own in a relatively small cage as attempts to integrate him into large enclosures with other rescued chimps have failed due to a number of reasons.  Firstly his inability to socialise with other chimps as being raised by humans, he can’t really speak “chimp” 😥 and, secondly, when CCC did manage to get him into an enclosure for a while,  he managed to escape which posed a danger to CCC staff and himself. He did live in a large enclosure for 5 years at one stage but then he became an escape artist….

Sadly he will never be able to return to the wild as he has been deprived of the natural survival instincts he would have learnt from his mother and peers and he lacks the social skills necessary to become part of a potential release troop.

2 x coco before b

The dedicated team at CCC have taken really good care of him and he has food, shelter and human love, but from the moment “we met” when he was living in this cage no bigger than the size of an average kitchen,  I just knew he deserved better. He needed a large, escape proof enclosure for himself, something CCC could not afford to provide him with.

3 x coco before c


When I left the CCC camp after my first visit, I looked my new friend Coco in the eyes and promised I would get him out of this cage one day. OAT then agreed to build a state of the art ‘escape proof’ chimpanzee enclosure so that Coco could live out the rest of his life climbing and sleeping in trees and be out in the open where he belongs.  2 yrs have now gone by and Coco’s new very large ‘escape proof’ enclosure was finally completed in late Dec 2018.

I have tears in my eyes writing this because Coco is now FREEEE……..he was released into his new enclosure on the 1st Jan 2019.

Below are some pics & videos of Coco being released and looking very happy in his new enclosure. This was the perfect New Year present for all of us at OAT and CCC and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the CCC team on making this happen. A dream come true for all of us and of course for our beloved Coco. I can’t wait to visit him again which I hope to do later this year!  Notice how he claps and makes excited chimp noises immediately he is let out of the cage! 😀 It might seem extravagant for one chimp, but we and Coco don’t think so! Its life changing for him and every life counts.  CCC have also committed to try and introduce a companion into the enclosure once Coco is settled. I will keep you posted!

4 x coco released





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……… 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. 👍


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.


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.


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.



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!




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.


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 –

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.


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
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 –

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.


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…




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.


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.


Maria Mossman
Action for Elephants UK

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

Brian Cox

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)

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

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

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

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

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Baroness Young of Old Scone


Stuart Agnew (UKIP)
Eastern Counties

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South East England

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South West England

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South East England
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East Midlands

David Martin (Lab)

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Keith Taylor (Green)
South East England