“Be brave when faced with inconvenience, when pushing your interests and ideals, and don’t give up easily.”
This week, I am happy to introduce Dr. Andie Ang, who is the Chairperson of Raffles Banded Langur Working Group, Founder of Primate Watching Online Resource, and President of Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore). Before the interview, I wondered: “Are monkeys seriously facing endangerment?” I mean, there are so many of them in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve!
However, when primatologists met at International Primatological Society Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, on 24 August 2018, light has been shed that out of the 511 existing species of primates:
- 60% are in danger of extinction.
- 75% are facing a decline in numbers.
Primates, in fact, are commonly traded for biomedical research, to be kept as pets (Nascimento et al, 2013) or as bushmeat which potentially drives primates towards extinction (Bowen-Jones & Pendry, 1999).
Dr Andie Ang flew back to Singapore on the night of 27 August, from Africa. As a primatologist, her work revolves around monkeys. It was her pet vervet monkey, Ah Boy which she owned at 10 that sparked her desire to learn more on how to curb illegal wildlife trade. In her years of performing conservation work, she has travelled to many places and one of the difficulties she faced, like many other scientists, was with the inconvenience brought about by the living conditions. She recalled, there was once in Vietnam where there was no enclosed toilet. The males showered in the open, but being the only female, she couldn’t join them, and could only use wet wipes to clean herself for a week.
It surely isn’t easy being a conservationist but despite the challenges, Dr Ang believes that it is important to pursue one’s passion and not succumb to adversities. Out of curiosity, I Googled “top female conservationist” and a link brought me to 4 Women Conservationists You Should Know. Of the four, I’ve only heard of Dian Fossey.
Fossey was known for her research on Gorilla beringei (mountain gorilla) in the mountain forest of Rwanda and had spent her last 18 years protecting the species. Fossey strongly opposed to wildlife tourism and poaching (Mowat, 1987), and was believed to have forged enemies with the poachers as a result of her violent campaign (Brower, 1986). On 27 December 1985, Fossey was found murdered in her bedroom (Brower, 1986).
Till date, the culprit behind Fossey’s death is still uncaught. According to the documentary, interviewees claim that Fossey’s death was a murder planned by the authorities who were against her campaigns (Hayes, 2017). I was just wondering what are the possibilities for those speculations to be true? But I should have faith in humanity, shouldn’t I? Honestly, it is way too chilling to think that Fossey’s death might sadly be planned. Having said that, I would want to share a quote by Fossey:
The man who kills the animals today, is the man who kills the people who get into his way tomorrow.
P.S. For the full interview of Andie Ang’s Why, click here!
Bowen-Jones, E., & Pendry, S. (1999). The threat to primates and other mammals from the bushmeat trade in Africa, and how this threat could be diminished. Oryx, 33(3), 233-246. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3008.1999.00066.x
Brower, M. (1986, February 17). The Strange Death of Dian Fossey. Retrieved from People: https://people.com/archive/the-strange-death-of-dian-fossey-vol-25-no-7/
Hayes, Z. (Director). (2017). Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist[Motion Picture]. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJN3Nnednm4
Mowat, F. (1987). Woman in the Mists: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa.New York: Warner Books.
Nascimento, R. A., Schiavetti, A., & Montaño, R. A. (2013). An assessment of illegal capuchin monkey trade in Bahia State, Brazil. Neotropical Biology and Conservation, 8(2), 79-87.