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A Baboon's Guide to Christmas

Christmas is around the corner and, if you’re like me, you’ve left your shopping to the last minute. What’s even trickier is that this year, motivated by the inspiring climate change pacts made by countries around the world, you’d planned to buy presents with the smallest possible impact on our planet (right?). But it can be hard to wade through the information to find who is actually doing good out there, and it can be easy to get sceptical. Well, look no further. This gift-guide takes out all that hard work for you. In the spirit of Christmas, we’ve taken a look at some companies whose products have both a positive impact on our fragile planet and on Aunt Nancy’s smile. I should mention that this is absolutely not an endorsed advertisement in any capacity (in fact, none of the companies below have any idea we are even writing this), nor were any baboons harmed in the making of this blog. Rather, we are just giving out recognition where recognition is deserved, to those doing their part (and some) to save our planet – and taking the opportunity to have fun with Photoshop!


Don't make Uncle Phil mad by purchasing a single-use, non-recyclable Christmas present.


Poaching is a prolific problem across much of Africa. It’s fuelled both by an insatiable demand for exotic animal products and by a domestic market for bush meat. Snaring is the easiest, if not cruellest, means of poaching. A metal wire loop is left strung up along well-used animals paths and, as the oblivious victim becomes ensnared and struggles against it, it tightens around their neck. Some die there and then, but for those that do escape, death usually follows thanks to injuries sustained while doing so. Just one (of the many) problems with snaring is that it is indiscriminate. It could just as easily take out an impala as a lion. While there are lots of impalas in Africa and we may not miss one, our work at the NHFU has shown us that the death of even a single endangered top predator like a lion can have devastating impacts on the surrounding ecosystem and predator dynamics. For example, you take out the ruling male lion, the first thing his replacement will do is kill all of his forbearer’s cubs.


Mumma Baboon rocks that D2TW bangle.


But, enough of the depressing stuff - how can you help? Down 2 The Wire (D2TW) is a South African based company that has a two-pronged approach to this problem. They work with field rangers on the ground who regularly canvass protected areas and search for snares. They’ll remove all they can find, and alert D2TW of any animals spotted with them tightened around their necks that have been lucky enough to survive. They then sponsor particular vets who are sent in to anaesthetise, remove the snares, and work on the post-operation recovery with the animals depending on the severity of their injuries. And how is all this funded? With the snares themselves! The wire snares are converted into beautiful and striking bangles, beads, earrings and necklaces, turning a thing of death into a message of hope.


Working in the African bush, we burn through far too many pairs of sunglasses. But not all of them have to be bad for the planet - look how cool baby baboon looks in his eco-friendly, recycled, guaranteed-for-life shades!


The next problem we turn our attention to is plastic pollution. If you’ve seen Blue Planet II then David’s already done the fantastic job of telling you just how bad our plastic situation is today. It’s devastating for the birdlife, of which the best-intentioned of mothers swallow up bits of the multi-coloured plastic to feed to their demanding young, not realising that in doing so, their chick’s stomachs are becoming so heavy that they’ll never be able to fly. It’s devastating for marine life, who swallow the tiny bits of microplastic as they disintegrate into ever smaller pieces but never quite disappear. It’s devastating for the coral reefs, who are already under enough pressure as it is from climate change, and it’s devastating for humans. From the Swede’s in Sweden eating their locally caught Salmon delicacies to the Polynesian islanders whose beaches are blighted by plastic and who rely on the oceans for their livelihood, it’s a problem that can no longer be ignored and no longer should it be.


Brother baboon rocking his eco-friendly litter picker - perhaps it would work well on ticks too?


The UK-based company Waterhaul are doing their bit by turning our waste into treasure. Like D2TW, they send crews out to beaches and oceans to scour the shores for plastics and discarded fishing nets (which ensnare much more than once intended catch). Rather than dispose of these, however, the company tackles the world of waste head-on by transforming them into a range of goodies. With their PPE-recycling machines, they convert our waste into, first and foremost, sunglass frames with ever-recyclable top-quality glass lenses and a repair guarantee for life. And, as if they weren’t already doing enough, they’ve also teamed up with the UK’s National Health Service to recycle their countless Covid-19 masks into litter pickers (with the help of a little 100% recyclable aluminium) saving them from entering landfill or our oceans and saving the NHS the huge costs of disposing of them. Above and beyond, they’re sponsoring educational outreach initiatives, to inspire the next generation of change-makers - and you can be a part of that too.


Don't be embarassed by turning up to the Christmas party without any eco-friendly goodies this year. You've still got 2-weeks left to shop!


Both of these fabulous companies quite literally turn the problem into the solution. So, this Christmas, you can wear a good cause around your wrist or over your eyes! I hope that, at the very least, this blog has inspired and encouraged you. It’s easy to be cynical in the consumer-centric-Christmas chaos and lose faith that there’s anything you can do to help these global and overwhelming problems, but just do a little research and you’ll be amazed what people are out there doing. Maybe you’re even a little inspired yourself?


Blog and photography by Hannah Gormley