In the background of this drama, thousands of hectares of forest were charred along with the animal and plant species that compose them. If the full assessment of this lost fauna and flora is not yet well determined at the national level, the damage suffered by the Bouhachem forest illustrates the extent of the carnage. “More than half of the Bouhachem forest in northern Morocco burned due to wildfires, killing hundreds of Barbary macaques,” said a statement from the Barbarian Monkey Conservation Association Rif (BMCRif).
a devastated forest
Located in the heart of the magnificent Bouhachem Natural Park, the forest in question is generally a haven of peace for a large number of animal and plant species of all kinds. It is also home to apes whose population is estimated at several thousand individuals. The fire that devastated this bastion of biodiversity started on July 25, 2022 and has already destroyed more than 7,500 ha of forested area.
“Despite the superhuman efforts of the forest service, authorities, army and villagers living in the area, many neighboring villages are damaged, crops burned and livestock killed. Many eyewitnesses saw several monkeys fleeing the flames,” the BMCRif press release continued. “This Wednesday, August 10, the intervention teams mobilized again to circumscribe the last remaining small outbreaks. I have never seen a disaster like this in the Bouhachem forest”, says Ahmed El Harrad, president of the association.
apes in danger
“We are concerned that hundreds of Bouhachem’s 4,000 monkeys have been killed or will die from burns and/or suffocation and smoke damage to their lungs. As a result of the fire, most of its food sources have disappeared and will not fully regenerate until it rains, hopefully, in September or October,” the BMCRif statement continued.
However, the association’s facilities that are installed at forest level also suffered damage due to fires. “The natural space around our center was not spared by the flames. The landscape has completely changed. Some exterior parts of the building were affected by the flames, but the rest is more or less intact. We intend to make the necessary repairs as soon as possible, as this space usually houses the activities we carry out with the local populations”, explains the president of Barbary Macaque Conservation in the Rif.
The answer is organized
In this perspective, the Moroccan association “coordinates and transmits within Morocco the donations of the Moroccan public in food and other necessary goods to help the villagers who need help the most”. The association also has the support of its British partner, the organization “Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation” (BMAC), which coordinated fundraising for this emergency.
The BMCRif press release also recalls that “the Barbary ape is the only ape outside Asia and the only primate found north of the Sahara. The Bouhachem forest is one of the few regions in Morocco where these monkeys are safe from poaching and anarchic tourism.”
Since 2009, the association and its partners have been committed to “conserving the globally threatened Barbary macaque and its habitat, and promoting knowledge of the species”, working “with communities that share habitat with monkeys, in a holistic way”. , practical and inclusive way”.