The only Master’s course dedicated entirely to primate conservation in the UK, if not the world, recently celebrated ten years of ground breaking research and award winning education.
Nearly half of all primates are now endangered globally including monkeys and apes, our closest primate relatives. It is a threat which impinges on human survival as primates are vital seed dispersers in the rainforest; if they do not survive the rainforest itself is threatened, with all that means for regulating the planet’s rainfall and clean air.
The course was recognised by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2008 which is awarded for work of outstanding excellence and acknowledges the enormous contribution of staff and students to international research and development. Students from over sixty countries across the world have completed the course and graduates occupy influential conservation positions in countries where primates are under special threat such as Madagascar, India, Bangladesh, Peru Indonesia, Sumatra, Vietnam, Panama, and many African countries as well as in sanctuaries and zoos across Europe, USA and Canada.
I learned methods which have helped me to improve my research and bring a strong conservation programme to my country
Pedro Mendez-Carvajal, 2008 MSc in Primate Conservation graduate
They are passionate about the importance of their studies and their role helping to reverse the decimation of primates. Former scholarship student at Brookes, Pedro Mendez-Carvajal, who graduated in 2008 and is now the first specialist primatologist practising in Panama says: ‘The programme prepares graduates to do a professional job in the field. I learned methods which have helped me to improve my research and bring a strong conservation programme to my country’.
Twenty five year old, Ammie Kalan who graduated in 2008 is passionate about the course. ’It is invaluable’, she said. ‘The whole reason I came to Oxford was for this course that was not offered by any other institution in the world. Not only does the programme offer courses that are progressive for this field, it also provides a sense of a global community of primate conservationists, where we all have the same aspirations and passion to protect primates, but even more importantly, the integrity of the natural ecosystems of which they are a part.’
Slow loris research and conservation
Cameras recently followed Professor Anna Nekaris’ work amongst the endangered slow loris population. ‘The Jungle Gremlins of Java’ aired on the BBC in January.
Anna Nekaris is Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes and specialises in lorises, nocturnal mammals and Asian primates. In the programme Anna is seen visiting the notorious pet markets in Jakarta where slow lorises and other endangered species are openly on sale.
The public response to the plight of these animals has been truly overwhelming
Dr Anna Nekaris, Professor In Anthropology (Primate Conservation)
In response to the huge public outcry at the scenes of suffering in the animal markets, Professor Nekaris mounted a postcard campaign urging the Indonesian government to shut them down, thus ending the misery of thousands of wild animals and stifling a trade which is driving the slow loris species to the brink of extinction.
Dr Nekaris said: “Indonesia is home to three of the world’s slow loris species. The public response to the plight of these animals has been truly overwhelming. The loris is little known, however, even within Indonesia. We are very happy to work with the government to help them develop training initiatives to promote protection of these rare and precious primates, and to help with enforcement of Indonesia’s existing laws.”