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Jan 8, 2015

Community Baboon Sanctuary Explored

The workshop concluded with a tour by the Community Baboon Sanctuary in the area. The sanctuary, which spans the length and width of seven villages in the River Valley area, was instituted back in February 1985 by residents of the community as a voluntary private protected area. Two hundred and forty landowners in the villages simply pledged to abide by the rules to ensure that they will not cut down trees used by the howler monkeys, maintain the corridor connecting patches of forest and to leave sixty-six feet of forest along the river untouched. Initially the CBS was managed by the Audubon Society and years later, taken over by the community; currently a female representative from the seven villages sits on the board of the sanctuary. Volunteer Administration Officer of CBS, Conway Young, spoke of how the sanctuary has grown to benefit the residents in the area.


Conway Young

Conway Young, Volunteer Administration Officer, Community Baboon Sanctuary

“The Community Baboon Sanctuary was officially opened on the twenty-third of February 1985. We started with four square miles and just around four hundred black howler monkeys. In 1986, we expanded to twenty square miles making it a total population of twelve hundred howler monkeys. Our last population chart that we did, in which we did satellite imagery based on forest cover and the baseline data of how much monkeys is in a family and how much forest that they need, the population chart is saying that we have between four and five thousand black howler monkeys.  The sanctuary is voluntary, so people who sign the pledge that they are going to abide by certain rules we can’t tell them not to farm, but we will advise them on the best way how to farm to get the most out of farming and what part is best and not to do it unsustainably. A lot of people weren’t benefiting from the sanctuary and so in 1998 when the Women’s Conservation Group took over, prior to that we had four main goals—conservation, education, tourism and research. But when the Women’s Conservation Group took over in 1998, they implemented a fifth goal called community development, in other words, alternative livelihood. And so we realized that we can’t have conservation and poor people living in the same area because people rely on the jungle—they will hunt, they will fish, they will slash and burn—so we started to offer alternative livelihood projects.”

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