Three Peaks Challenge 2014
Ten zookeepers from five zoos across the United Kingdom have swapped their zookeeping role for the mountains, in a bid to raise both funds and awareness for the Critically Endangered monkey Macaca nigra. During this Three Peak Challenge on July 5th they will climb Mt. Ben Nevis (Scotland), Mt. Scafell Pyke (England) and Mt. Snowdon (Wales), in a period of just 24 hours, with a total of 13 hours walking, the 27 mile route ascending/descending 2900m.
North Sulawesi is home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal species, with one of the highest levels of endemism (species unique to the area) in the world. However, due to hunting, forest loss and the pet trade many of these unique species are under threat. One of the most threatened is the Sulawesi crested black macaque – known locally as yaki. Restricted to small forest fragments in the Northern tip of the island, these monkeys have experienced an estimated population decline of more than 80% in the last 40 years, and are now Critically Endangered and in urgent need of protection.
The star behind the Three Peak Challenge is Jodie Dryden, zookeeper at Drusillas Park, UK. In 2013, Jodie went to see the Macaca nigra in the wild and volunteered at Selamatkan Yaki, a conservation programme in Manado, North Sulawesi, which focuses on the protection of this species and its habitat.
Selamatkan Yaki is a programme through the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust based at Paignton Zoo in the UK, comprising a strong collaboration of partners, with support and cooperation from key stakeholders. By focussing on protected area management, ecotourism, community development, education and awareness-raising the programme aims to reduce the threats to the species.
Yunita Siwi, Education Officer for Selamatkan Yaki, said “This event organised by foreigners deserves a big thumbs-up and should be an example for us all. As a native Minahasan, I am moved by their actions. Their love for these macaques is proven through fundraising for our programme in Manado, Indonesia. This should be food for thought for us; if they care so much for our animals, what about us? How much do we care for our environment, our forests, our wildlife? There is still much work to be done, much support needed from the people of North Sulawesi, for the conservation of our yaki, our Indonesian nature, and our earth.”
“We are excited about this event”, says Thirza Loffeld, Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Selamatkan Yaki, “as these zookeepers are taking on this daring 1-day climb illustrating their great support of wildlife conservation. After Jodie’s stay with us over a year ago, she has grasped every opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the Sulawesi crested black macaque and help our Selamatkan Yaki team in our plight to save this endangered primate. She is an inspiration to all.”
Follow Jodie and her team and stay updated on the Three Peaks Challenge through Selamatkan Yaki – Facebook and Twitter! Would you like to help safeguard the yaki alongside many other species in the North Sulawesi rainforests? Follow the link to the Three Peaks Fundraiser website (click).