Skål Arrival dinner at Indigo Bar – Beacon Island

After a long day of travelling there is nothing like sitting down with old and new friends, having a scrumptious meal and reminiscing about the days events.  Well thanks to Bonnievale Wines the night kept going, the wine kept flowing and the smile kept growing.

Arriving for the Skål Bi-Annual

Arriving for the Skål Bi-Annual Hosted by Garden Route Skål

On the weekend of the 11th and 12th of September the Garden Route Skål hosted the Skål South Africa Bi-Annual.  Skalleuges on the Garden Route opened their doors and hearts wide to accommodate delegates from across our country.

On the afternoon of the 11th of September delegates arrived at the Beacon Island and checked in, everyone was greeted by the friendly and always smiling Beacon Island staff and then got to sign in and get their name badges from Skalleuge Lara Mostert of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary – the current award winner of the Skål International Sustainable Award.

Ring-Tailed Lemurs Threatened by Illegal Pet Trade

By John R. Platt | August 7, 2015

Some restaurant owners keep a tank of exotic fish to attract and entertain their customers. In Madagascar, patrons are more likely to see a live lemur chained to the wall.
Private ownership of lemurs is against the law in Madagascar—the only island where the primates are found—but that doesn’t stop people from snatching the animals from the wild and turning them into pets. Earlier this year American researchers estimated that home and business owners had taken 28,000 lemurs  in the previous three years.The illegal trade affects at least 30 of the 103 known lemur species, but new research reveals that one of those species—the gorgeous and iconic ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)—represents a huge portion of the market.

For the past several months Kim Reuter at Temple University and Melissa Schaefer at the University of Utah have been collecting photographs from tourists who encountered lemurs in homes, restaurants, resorts and hotels. So far their Pet Lemur survey has amassed sightings of 685 pet lemurs. According to data presented this week at the International Congress for Conservation Biology an astonishing 28 percent of the animals spotted were ring-tailed lemurs.

That number “is a really, really bad sign,” says Reuter, the lead researcher on the project and one of the founders of the Lemur Conservation Network. It is especially disturbing because there are no estimates for the wild population of ring-tailed lemurs, although all indications show that they are on the decline. “I think that we need a lot more research in order to know exactly what sort of threat we’re facing,” Reuter says, “though it’s safe to say that the illegal pet trade could be impacting a large amount of the population.”

As you might guess, the lemurs don’t always do well in captivity. “The conditions of the lemurs in restaurants and the other settings are, on average, not great,” Reuter says. They’re often provided with foods that don’t match their natural diets and they’re often housed alone—not an ideal situation for a very social species. The lemurs are also usually kept on ropes or in small cages, leading to abnormal behavior such as repetitive pacing.

Reuter says not all owners mistreat their lemurs. “There are owners who are taking the time to provide a good environment for their pet lemurs,” she says. “I would estimate that most owners are not purposefully keeping lemurs in bad conditions. On the contrary, I think lemurs are kept in bad conditions because keeping primates in captivity is difficult and takes a lot of resources that most people, even well-intentioned people, don’t have in Madagascar.”

Reuter and her colleagues will continue to gather lemur sighting reports and are now working on several policy-related documents about captive lemur ownership. “There are lots of lemurs in illegal captivity but there isn’t much capacity to deal with the situation,” she says. “For example, the government is supposed to confiscate lemurs and then place them in legal captive facilities, but these facilities simply do not have the capacity to take in thousands of lemurs.” She points to one organization, Lemur Love, that is aware of dozens of animals being kept illegally but it doesn’t have the resources to rescue them.

The pet trade is just one of the many threats facing lemurs. Lisa Gould of the University of Victoria, one of the world’s preeminent ring-tailed lemur researchers, says deforestation and the bushmeat trade have been particularly hard on the species. “Most known populations, the ones where biologists have conducted research, seem to be quite isolated in forest fragments, often with no nearby fragments for male dispersal at all,” she says, adding that all known populations are smaller than 250 individuals. “Some populations consist of a few dozen or even fewer.”

In recent years conservationists have focused primarily on deforestation and hunting. Reuter says it’s time to add the pet trade to that list. “Lemur Love has a hard time competing with larger organizations for funding partly because the pet trade is still viewed as a problem that is not as important as other threats facing lemurs.” If the new research is any indication, then that blind eye toward the pet trade could be a black eye in lemur protection.

Exotic pets to not make Excellent Pets!!

Every now and then you have to ask yourself this question: “Am I doing this for attention?” if it is not part of a marketing extravaganza then the answer should always be “No”. I spend the last few days at home thanks to a not so welcome friend Mr Influ Enza. Being at home gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some much needed time on Social Media. I finally got up to date with Instagram, Twiiter, Tumbler and even made a turn by FlikR. That all said and done I decided to take a leisure stroll through Facebook.
This is where a fun flu filled day turned into a nightmare! I found out that an old school buddy of mine has strategically blocked me from being able to view all her personal photos taken of her PET CAPUCHIN!! She accidently loaded one and did not block it in time. I asked her straight out whom the Capuchin belong to and the can of worms spilled out right there. When I asked why she blocked me her answer was even more ghastly that I could have thought:
“Because I knew having a pet monkey is very wrong but I do not care I want him and I will keep him”
I burst into tears realizing that it’s not that we are not getting the message out there of the horrors of keeping a wild animal as a pet, but that some people really just do not care. She went on to tell me how much attention she gets when she takes him out and how much she enjoys that. I guess being left at the alter….twice….left her really needing some attention. I asked if she thought she would also get attention if she adopted a kitten or puppy from the local shelter. She explained that “domestic” animals are “boring”….my dear, have you met my adopted cat?
I talked to her a bit more about the Capuchin’s future and asked her, knowing that so many of them turn on their owners what she will do not IF but WHEN that happens to her and she calmed explained that “I will donate him to Monkeyland in Plett” I chocked a bit and reminded her that I work for Monkeyland and that we have reached our capacity and will not be able to take in her Capuchin. Now she wants ME to find out if there are other Sanctuaries like Monkeyland that will take in her Capuchin…but not just yet…only after he has bitten her or one of her loved ones!
The human race stuns me at times. We smoke knowing it can give us cancer, we drink knowing it can screw up our livers, and we eat too much knowing it will give us a heart attack! I have to wonder why we are wired this way. Why are we so destructive? Why are there so many “Save The” campaigns out there yet people just continue to ignore the massive white elephant…. We are screwing up our earth one day at a time.
For me regardless of if you are; keeping a wild animal as a pet, have a bird caged for life, making children work as slaves, buy your animals from back street breeders rather than adopting from over full shelters, burning down rainforests, killing rhino’s for their horn, killing elephants or hunting lions for a trophy… are all the same “YOU are destroying YOUR earth”!

I want you to watch this video on what can happen so very quickly to anyone who has a pet primate…it might not happen to you but it might happen to one of your kids, friends, loved ones!


Breaking a World Record

11 TO 25 AUGUST 2015

In 1969 Andre Van Zijl set his first world record by Roller Skating 1000 miles in 19 Days. He skated from Cape Town to Johannesburg because he wanted to prove that he can. This is how it all started for Andre who has since set an additional 47 world records and in one weeks’ time he will start his 49th. 

After breaking that first record Andre decided to do a few more records and use the attention to put focus on animals and other worthy causes. A few records worth mentioning is that he sang for 28.5 hours nonstop! Drank 211 cups of coffee in only 4 hours, played chess nonstop for a 150 hours, pumped petrol for 1000 hours nonstop, sat in a bubble bath for 10 days and most recently spend 5 days in a Shark Diving Cage to shed light on the plight of Pit-bulls being used in fighting. As his records are for animal welfare you might wonder what does Pit-bulls and Shark diving have in common? Well, sadly these poor dogs are used as live bait to attract sharks for the viewing public. You can read about confirmed cases in Reunion.
Andre’s 49th world record will start on the 11th of August at 12 noon with him entering a Pre-Release Cage in the Monkeyland Primate Forest. Andre will spend 14 days in the 5mx4.5m enclosure. By living as a caged primate, Andre, along with the SAASA Team hope to place focus on the plight of captive wild animals especially those used in the Pet-play-and-Pay Industry. We are confident that this will also bring much needed focus to the horrific Canned Hunting and Lion Bone Industry.
Please come and visit Monkeyland to see #AndreGoingApe.
Andre will exit his enclosure at 12 noon on the 25th of August just in time for the viewing of the now famous Blood Lions Documentary Feature Film at the White House in Plettenberg Bay on the 28th of August.