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C.A.R.E. Joins GFAS & PASA Workshops

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of The Global Federation for Animal Sanctuaries and a donation from Dan and Mandy Chacnova our Managing Director, Rita’s successor Stephen Munro and Assisting Managing Director Samantha Dewhirst traveled to Uganda in December 2016. The dedicated duo were invited to attend the PASA (Pan African Sanctuary Alliance) Annual Strategic Development Conference for 5 days which was then followed by a 2 day PASA and GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) Capacity Building workshop.

The workshop and conference was held in the beautiful Imperial Resort Beach Hotel Entebbe which is on the shores of Lake Victoria. The ground is shared with an array of birds, colobus monkeys and vervets, which are abundant in the large trees and the conference facilities were perfect for the group’s needs. Lily Ajarova of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary did an excellent job of hosting the conference and workshop. Lily’s warmth and natural organisation skills allowed for everything to run smoothly and efficiently. The smaller PASA group conference took place in one of the medium sized conference rooms of the hotel which had a fantastic view across Lake Victoria, the second PASA/GFAS workshop welcomed with it a number of sanctuary representatives from across the globe and therefore took place in the larger conference room.

The PASA member sanctuaries, guest speakers and the Honorable  Minister of

The PASA conference and PASA/GFAS workshop was a superb success; visitor speakers and member sanctuaries passed on vast knowledge, the groups encouraged boundless inspiration and our C.A.R.E. leaders felt empowered, stronger and even better equipped for doing their difficult, but important job for the Centre.

For the PASA Strategic Development Conference, Stephen and Samantha gave a presentation to the member sanctuaries; highlighting C.A.R.E.’s mission, successes, difficulties and succession following the tragic and sudden passing of C.A.R.E.’s indomitable Founder Rita Miljo. Many of the hurdles and difficulties which C.A.R.E. faces are seemingly mirrored in many other sanctuaries, which made the pair feel reassured that C.A.R.E. is on track and generally on-par with many other rescue facilities. It seemed that every sanctuary has its strengths and that in all sanctuaries there are areas that are being worked on, perfected or in phases of planning for improvement. The best way to rescue, rehabilitate and provide sanctuary for primates is an ever evolving method; the best practice guidelines are continually being built upon and the job never gets easier simply because of human population increases, exploitation of primate territories and destruction of habitats; meaning orphans are always in need of help and continue to arrive at the various sanctuaries. C.A.R.E. has fine-tuned and perfected it’s rehabilitation for release method in the last few years and built many new facilities to facilitate the animal care and outreach programs since 2013.

Jim Desmond giving an update on the Liberia Chimpanzee Project

Jim Desmond gave a remarkable talk about the Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue projects which was very moving and informative, Caroline Griffis gave a presentation about Positive Reinforcement Training, fundraising was discussed a lot and Belinda Davis and Gregg Tully (PASA Director) presented ways and ideas for which charities can fundraise effectively. C.A.R.E.’s Assisting Managing Director Samantha Dewhirst has worked tirelessly on C.A.R.E.’s online presence for the last few years and through learning through doing, could give some useful tips and also took a lot away from the discussions. C.A.R.E.’s website was re-designed in 2014 by Samantha, the previous site wasn’t updated for a decade. Technology is becoming increasingly user-friendly and learning new ways to fundraise and attract donations is vital to our charities ability to operate.

Jasper Iepema of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust lead a group discussion on reintroductions; something C.A.R.E.’s Managing Director Stephen Munro has excessive personal experience of and could contribute a lot of knowledge with the group. Notes on new ways of collaring primates were shared, as there are also evolving developments in technology for animal tracking devices. Dr. Sherri Speede, Dr. Stephen Ngulu and Rebeca Atencia lead a panel discussion for Preventing and Managing Diseases in Sanctuaries. This was a very relevant discussion to all sanctuaries as disease can be catastrophic to our very susceptible primates. The timing of this discussion for our team was perfect as this is something C.A.R.E. is fine-tuning and developing thanks to our new Veterinary Clinic, Nursery Quarantine facility and separate food prep facilities for different animal groups. C.A.R.E. has developed and improved all the policies and protocols in the last few years for incoming animals, hygiene management and staff hygiene/practices. Stephen and Samantha were happy to see that C.A.R.E. is finally beginning to meet the standards and mirror the policies and procedures of other African Primate Sanctuaries and it gave further insight on how to further improve.

The knowledge sharing from all members was enlightening and reassuring for all.

The PASA Conference attendees all visited UWEC, Ugandan Wildlife and Education Centre for a behind the scenes tour. It was a good opportunity for all the members to relax somewhat and digest the bombardment of useful tips and information shared in the conference discussions. Executive Director of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Trust, Lily Ajarova invited all the attendees to also visit the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary. The trip meant a rustic boat ride across the Lake, where the group were met by the very professional and welcoming staff of Ngamba Island. The objective of the sanctuary is to provide a safe home for orphaned and confiscated chimpanzees, to care for the environment on Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, to provide a high quality educational experience for visitors and importantly, to benefit local communities. Stephen and Samantha were very impressed with the warmth and professionalism of all the staff from the Veterinarian to the cooks. At the end of the visit, the staff all got together and recited the sanctuaries mission and goals. Development of our local African Staff at C.A.R.E. is very important to Stephen and Samantha and something which they hope that the new Education Centre building at C.A.R.E. may facilitate. For the first time in many years C.A.R.E. has had a very steady permanent team of local African staff, with a very low turn-over despite not being able to provide the highest pay. In the recent years improvements have been made to their standards of living at C.A.R.E. (which is onsite), with the building of new showers (with hot water), installation of flushing toilets, construction of a communal washing and cooking area (all shaded) all taking place at the end of 2016. The quality and proficiency of the Ngamba Island team certainly reaffirmed C.A.R.E.'s commitment to developing the local team at C.A.R.E. and brought to their attention the importance of an empowered, committed team.

The external visits to UWEC and Ngamba Island from the hotel were a great way to break up the conference, to give the attendees time to digest all the information and note down questions and topics they still wished to discuss.

GFAS giving excellent presentations on Strategic Planning

The GFAS conference welcomed a whole new batch of interesting and hard-working sanctuary representatives from across the globe. Many members of the GFAS team were present and presented very important topics such as succession planning, human resource management and strategic development. Since many sanctuaries start because of one well-meaning individual fell in love with an animal, some of the more business/organisational structures can be neglected and therefore, highlighting the importance of these things is vital. Rita had put many imperative organisational aspects of C.A.R.E. in place before her death and due to C.A.R.E.’s ethical core-values the centre had an army of external local supporters which is likely key to why it survived after her passing. The Board Members of C.A.R.E. were and still are very active members of the organisation, each offering different wisdom, skills and help as and when they are called upon and Stephen had been involved in running the centre since 2003, and managed the daily operations since 2009. Still, there were many things which took time to rectify after Rita’s tragic death in terms of the daily running of the centre. The Succession Planning highlighted to Stephen and Samantha how vital it is for them to plan for the future of C.A.R.E. as an organisation and ensure that the right people, policies and organisational aspects are in place and fine-tuned to ensure C.A.R.E.’s survival into the future. As Stephen was bequeathed C.A.R.E. by Rita who entrusted him with leading the sanctuary into the future, it is forefront in his mind that one day, he, like Rita will be handing over the reins and therefore, perfecting C.A.R.E.’s organisational structure, fine-tuning the management of the daily operations and recruiting the right team members is of paramount importance.

Excellent presentation by Executive Director at SANCCOB, Dr Stephen van der Spuy on Stratergy and Strategic Planning

Stephen and Samantha benefited greatly from the PASA conference and the GFAS workshop. The two fantastic and very different organisations provided a colossal amount of knowledge and encouragement to the duo and members. PASA is an African primate sanctuary focused organisation for which all the topics for managing a primate sanctuary were relevant to the team. The management of primates is very specialist and the member sanctuaries do an incredible job at both primate care and also outreach. Knowledge sharing between the member sanctuaries has helped all the sanctuaries overcome hurdles of contraception, fundraising, reintroduction, integrations and husbandry practices. GFAS is more of a global body which strives to encompass all organisational aspects of a sanctuary and provides extensive information on governance, finance and staffing and pushes continually to raise standards of animal husbandry. We hope that our C.A.R.E. team can join more workshops and conferences in the future as knowledge sharing helps to strengthen the centre in all areas of operation. C.A.R.E. is hoping to become verified or accredited by GFAS and a member sanctuary of PASA in the future, the obstacles C.A.R.E. faces is a very high intake of orphans which has led to a large population and limited resources. Stephen and Samantha have done a great job so far at leading C.A.R.E. since Rita’s passing thanks to the wonderful Board Members, dedicated African staff, loyal donors, hard-working volunteers and thanks to the joining of more long-term or permanent overseas volunteers which have turned into part of the management team. They continue to have a vision for the future of C.A.R.E. and thanks to PASA and GFAS are even better equipped to share this vision with their team and donors.

Samantha with primate conservation heros Bala Amarasekaran founder of Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Frank Chantereau of J.A.C.K

C.A.R.E. would like to thank the GFAS team and Dan and Mandy Chacnova for making the trip financially feasible. The knowledge gained, reassurance, encouragement and inspiration provided to Stephen and Samantha is priceless. Stephen and Samantha also express their appreciation to Lily Ajarova for being such a warm and proficient host and to Imperial Beach Resort Hotel for a comfortable stay. We would like to thank all the PASA team, Gregg Tully and member sanctuary representatives for sharing their knowledge, inviting Stephen and Samantha to attend the conference and helping them to feel part of the PASA ‘family’, each member sanctuary representative has a lifetime of experiences to share and are all indomitable people. And finally, thank you to Jackie Bennet of GFAS and the GFAS team for being so encouraging to Stephen and Samantha, and for being so true to your mission of helping sanctuaries help animals.

The next PASA conference will be in September 2017, with a focus on Education and Outreach. The focus of this years meeting is great timing for C.A.R.E. to learn since we have just completed our Environmental Education Centre.

We would very much like to send C.A.R.E. representatives to the conference again.

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