Author Archive

Reticulated Giraffes

Many people know reticulated giraffes from zoos where this species can be found relatively often. Yet scientifically a lot is not known yet. Already the question whether it is a species or “only” a subspecies is not fully agreed upon. Traditionally giraffes are considered to be one species with nine subspecies with the reticulated giraffe being one of them. An extensive genetic analysis of the Senckenberg Institute delivered the result that giraffes have to be evaluated anew. Four different species were recognized, of which one is the reticulated giraffe.

 

For the reticulated giraffe this means that she is not one of about 100.000 giraffes but an own species with only about 8.700 animals left in the wild, which is listed as critically endangered. Their habitat is Northern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia and Somalia – even this is not correct anymore as we will realize in the next time.

 

Among the giraffes the reticulated giraffe optically differs more from the others than other kinds. The fur is also rather crème-colored but due to the large brown spots it appears as if they were brown with a white net as frame, while other giraffes seem to be light with dark spots. Any attentive zoo visitor can recognize that all giraffes have an individual pattern and no animal is equal to another one.

 

Male reticulated giraffes can grow up to six meters height and weigh 900 kg – and this as mere vegetarians. One giraffe requires about 50-60 kg food per day, which is the reason why giraffes are wandering around that much. Giraffes spend about half of their day with eating. Also in relation to other large animals giraffes have a very large heart that weighs 12 kg alone.

 

A widely known fact is that the long neck is held by seven vertebrae, the same number as humans have. Interesting are the ossicones. The males in the wild often have them blank and not covered with fur as they use them for fights against rivals. In contrast to females who merge together with other females and their offspring, bulls are roaming the savannah alone and do not accept other males near them. Only younger bulls who just left their moms join other juvenile bulls for a bachelor group.

 

Offspring is not a big problem for reticulated giraffes. The cow gives birth to a baby after gestation period of fifteen months. It does not take long until she is ready to mate again, so that the time between two births is about one and a half years. Grown up giraffes can defend themselves very well. Lions are the biggest threat but they put their own lives at risk when attacking a giraffe due to their long and powerful legs. The juveniles are much more endangered and can be killed by mid-size carnivores like cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs as well. Only every second giraffe reaches the maturity age. Much more dangerous for the species are human beings though by restricting the habitat of the animals and hunting them.

Olaf Goldbecker

The Drill

Due to supporting Rettet den Drill (Save the Drill) he is in the focus of Charity Kalender again this year. But what kind of a monkey is the drill anyway? We put an eye on the animal, his situation in his countries of origin and his situation in the zoological gardens over the next weeks.

 

The Drill is at home in Nigeria, Cameroon and the island of Bioko, which belongs to Equatorial Guinea, and thus belong to the old world primates. Together with the mandrill he is summarized to the genus Mandrillus. While the mandrills are pretty famous due to the showy colorful face of the males, only few people have heard about the drills. The females of both species are even pretty similar, but the males mainly differ by the drills having a black face. The back of the male is very colorful though and shines in a variation of blue and purple – the more shining the higher is the rank of the animal. At a length of about 60 cm the males weigh about 30 kg, the females only a bit more than a third of it.

 

A drill group with about 25 individuals consists of a dominant male, a harem group of females and their offspring. Various group can merge together to a big squad of more than 100 individuals. At an age of 5 to 7 years the young males leave their birth group, while the females remain.

 

Drills live in the tropical rain forest. They are not tree residents though but mainly can be found on the ground. The forest offers protection for the animals and serves as food source. Drills are omnivorous and do not reject meat. Destruction of the rain forest for tropical wood and agriculture is the biggest threat for the primates, which are listed as endangered by IUCN. Drills play an important role for the ecosystem. By eating fruits they spread the seed in the forest and help trees and plants to grow. Probably about 5.000 animals are left in the wild, a massive loss of 50% over the last 30 years. Next to the loss of habitat they are hunted for their meat, or killed for planting banana, coconut or manioc plantations.

Olaf Goldbecker

Calendar Pictures 2021

Here you can view all pictures of “Wildlife of Kenya 2021”. Needless to say that the pink sign on the ostrich-pictures has been edited for the print version.

 

Olaf Goldbecker

Calendar Cover 2021: Southern White Rhino at the Solio Ranch

Actually the cover picture has a sad background. It shows the Southern white rhino, a subspecies, which originally did not exist in Kenya. Thus, it is an invasive species but in this case it was intentionally imported. The picture was taken at the Solio Ranch – the place that imported Southern white rhinos to Kenya in 1980.

 

Why was it done? Kenya originally is home to the East African black rhino and the Northern white rhino. Black and white rhinos do not have a common territory – the version with the wide mouth uses it as lawn mower on the ground and eats grass, while the version with the peaky mouth uses it to eat from the bushes. Since 1966 the Solio Ranch was in ownership of a man, whose separated parts of his property – 55 km² – for wildlife as his wife asked him to. Rhinos were not home to this territory although the territory would have fitted both species. This was realized by the Kenyan government in 1970 when they suspected that despite of 20.000 black rhinos in the country they would not be able to protect the species from poachers. So they asked Solio Ranch to place some animals on their ground. During the next decade a total of 27 black rhinos were sent to Solio Ranch – during the same time the number of free living black rhinos in Kenya reduced by more than 90% to only 1.500 animals.

 

At Solio they recognized that the territory was also good for the white rhino. However, the Northern white rhinos were so few that the fight was basically already lost – in 2008 the last specimen died in the wild, only two females are living in custody today. So Solio imported 16 Southern white rhinos from South Africa in 1980. This story is an amazing success. All Southern white rhinos in Kenya stem from these 16 imports, such as mother and calf on the cover picture.

 

East African black rhinos are roaming here as well. The rhino offspring was not only sent to Kenyan national parks and other wildlife sanctuaries, but also to other countries like Malawi or Uganda. How fragile everything still is shows that also on Solio 30 rhinos were poached within five years at the beginning of this century – this however marked the beginning for more intense protection and monitoring.

Olaf Goldbecker

Donations made for BOS and Pandrillus

The first Charity Calendar was a solid success. A bit more than 500 Euro were donated to both, Rettet den Drill (Pandrillus), and Borneo Orangutan Survival. Both organziations received their donations in spring 2018.

Olaf Goldbecker

Borneo Orangutan Survival

Orangutans as great apes are probably known by everyone. Not as much known is that the “wood man” (translation of the term orangutan) is listed as critically endangered by IUCN. As endemic species, orangutans only live on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia – two islands, which are known for massively producing palm oil that destroys the habitat of the animals. The oil palm is very fruitful and thus a cheap product, which makes it an attractive product for the industries. 85% of the worldwide palm oil production is gained in Malaysia and Indonesia, the rain forest has to vanish for it. In nearly every household you can find products containing palm oil, e.g. in cosmetics, detergent, sweets, chocolate bars, fast food, frozen products or margarine – watch out for the list of content in your products and avoild palm oil! Yet also fuel is a problem these days. Seemingly eco-friendly fuel as Biodiesel and E10 massively contain palm oil: about 45% of the entire palm oil production in the EU is used for fuel!

 

Also other factors are endangering orangutans. Babies are still captured and sold on the Asian market. The capture happens by shooting the moms. Orangutans are similar to human beings and thus they can suffer similar diseases, which are brought in by human beings. All this, in combination with a slow reproduction rate leads to a decrease of about 2.000 animals each year. Given that there only are about 50.000 Bornean orangutans and 15.000 Sumatran orangutans left, this is a drastic quota.

 

Borneo Orangutan Survival fights against the extinction of a first kind of great apes. In Borneo BOS operates two rescue and rehabilitation centres, which host about 800 animals. Aim is to release all orangutans back to the wilderness who are able to survive on their own. With the help of an affiliate, BOS purchased woodlands, in which the apes can live.

 

 

Sumatra Orang Utan – Sumatran orangutan – Pongo abelii – Zoom Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen

 

Borneo Orang Utan – Bornean Orangutan – Pongo pygmaeus – Zoo Osnabrück

Olaf Goldbecker

Pandrillus Foundation
(German affiliate)

Drills are relatively unknown apes. Zoo visitors often confuse hem with baboons or their next relatives, the mandrills. The drills are mainly living on the ground, and only exist in Cameroon, Nigeria and the island Bioko

Olaf Goldbecker

About this Project

My name is Olaf Goldbecker, I was born in 1976 in Germany. Neither am I a professional photographer, nor am I a zoologist. Yet how do you get the idea for such a project, how does a German relate to primates, and why do you offer a calendar whose profit is going to species conservation projects?

 

Well, I have been travelling pretty much in the recent years. My main job is a merchant, on the side I am running a small sports service company. To get new and maintain old contacts it is a good idea to travel – to the USA, within Europe or within Germany. Between appointments there often is time to be filled, and I use to spend it in zoos. Animals have always interested and fascinated me. Since some years I gained a deeper insight into the work of a scientifically led zoo, which increased my interest. While visiting I do what many visitors do: I take photographs. In the course of the time there is quite an amount of photos, and alos the quality of the pictures grew, so that at some point I asked myself the question “is there anything useful you can do with these pictures?!?”

 

 

Last Christmas I donated a small calendar to family and friends, to see how the quality looks like on print. The result convinced me and so the decision grew to start an attempt establshing and marketing such a project. It was clear to me that the profit of this project has to go to the free living relatives of the models – the species living in the wild. I will document the result of this campaign here on this website.

 

Yet why of all animals did you opt on primates? Well, I did not want a simple animal collection, but a firm motto. Of course there would have been other options – and who knows, if this is turning to be a success it can happen that a next edition shows predators, hoofed animals or sea animals. Yet the current choice are primates. About half of all primate species are listed as endangered by IUCN, more than 10% are threatened by extinction. Next to collecting money for some of these species, it is an aim to further the knowledge on the problems these animals have, which partially could be improved by our consuming in the everyday life.

 

I wish everyone lots of fun with the calendar and the pictures. If you like calendar and this project I would be happy if you told other people about it and spread the word.

 

Olaf Goldbecker – Mensch – Human being – Homo sapiens – Sometimes here, sometimes there

 

Goldstirnklammeraffe – White bellied Spider Monkey – Ateles belzebuth – Zoo Barcelona

Olaf Goldbecker

Primates

When people think about primates most people remember lively apes playing and toying around. Yet primates are a complex generic group, starting with the 30 grams light tarsier up to the 200 kg heavy gorilla. Naturally our next relatives, the great apes, fascinate us. With the image of these lively animals in mind you can easily forget how serious their situation is in the nature. This is a core reason why we opted on this topic for the first edition of Charity-Kalender.

 

In total there are 496 primates species, of which more than half of them are endangered in the meantime. Alone on the island of Madagascar 101 there are species and nearly 90% of those are in a critical state. Among Asia’s 119 species there are worries regarding about two thirds of the kinds. Origin of the primates merely are in Middle and South America (new-world monkeys), in Africa and Asia (old-world monkeys).

 

Tourists who have been to Southern Europe may protest now and say that they have seen primates in Gibraltar. This is absolutely correct. These are Barbary macaques or also called magots, which with a high probability were imported from Northern Africa. The 230 animals who live there today can be tracked back to Winston Churchill. A legend says that Gibraltar remains under British governing as long as magots live there, so Churchill imported Barbary macaques from their origin Morocco and Algeria to liven up the population that declined to only a few animals. Even though they are no real European monkeys they have a geographical specialy as they are Africa’s only primates living north of Sahara. A further unique feature: they are the only macaques, which are not home in Asia.

 

You might think that a monkey, which is tough enough to survive in Europe and even is a bit annoying as in Gibraltar cannot have worries, but the opposite is the case: Barbary macaques are engangered, the population decreased by more than fifty percent within the last thirty years. About 6.000 to 8.000 animals live worldwide, yet at least two thirds in Morocoo. There are two main problems for the population: one is that annually 200-300 babies are caught and illegally sold as pets. The other is the aggricultural growth, which results in lesser connected areas and separates the singular groups.

 

In Zoos Barabary macaques are widely spread though and form a solid reserve pool. Nice walk through enclosures can be found at NaturZoo Rheine and at Apenheul Apeldoorn. Furthermore magots are on exhibit at Arche Noah Zoo Braunschweig, Opel Zoo Kronberg, Tiergarten Nuremberg or Zoo Barcelona.

 

 

In the course of this primates campaign we will inform about further specialties of various primate species.

 

Berberaffe – Barbary macaque – Macaca sylvanus – NaturZoo Rheine

Berberaffe – Barbary macaque – Macaca sylvanus – Apenheul Apeldoorn

Olaf Goldbecker

Good supporters base –
“Original Ten” are found

A lot of time and preparation needs to be done from idea to realization of a project. While in the background the website is created, the social media are started, and the calendar is set, there are much needed partners, who first of all need to be convinced to take part. This is especially difficult when you have no reference so far, and the people who are supposed to help don’t know you. Under these circumstances the first Charity Calendar came alive, always with a question mark, whether or not the photo release permit will be granted.

 

 

This first phase is passed now. Analogue to sports terms we can call the founding “members” of this project the “Original Ten” = ten facilities, which did not hesitate to give their okay for this release within one week after my initial contact. Lots of thank yous are owed to our “Original Ten”: Zoo Osnabrück, Vogel- und Blumenpark Heiligenkirchen (Bird- and Flower Park), Zoo Miami, NaturZoo Rheine, Tiergarten Nuremberg, Royal Burgers’ Zoo Arnhem, Tierpark Hamm, Zoo Cologne, Apenheul Apeldoorn and Tierpark Herford.

 

 

         

        

 

Weißscheitelmangabe- White naped mangabey – Cerocebus lunulatus – Zoo Osnabrück

Olaf Goldbecker

Calendar Pictures “Primates 2018”

 

Olaf Goldbecker