Summer Students Learn the Art of Land Clearing for Conservation

Young Gibraltarian university students can apply for job placements during their summer holidays which are paid for by the Government of Gibraltar. They are sent to a wide range of industries including Ape Management where we have put some to work clearing woodland inside the Nature Reserve.

Land clearing for conservation is so new to Gibraltar that we’re going to take some time to explain it in this article.

Continue Reading

Young Turtle Rescued and Released, Just in Time for Christmas!!!

This Christmas Eve Mr and Master Nunez (pictured with Eric Shaw, below) were told of a turtle in difficulties in the bad weather.  They quickly responded by rescuing the young turtle and contacting the Helping Hand Trust.

The turtle was clearly exhausted.  We were able to administer medical assistance and give it time to recover.  Once it had regained its strength we released it back into a calm area of water at Queensway Quay Marina, which thanks to its advanced design is a clean and friendly environment for sea life.

The Nunez' have previously been of great assistance to marine life and the Helping Hand would like to give them a big thank you for their prompt action in saving this graceful visitor to our waters.

A video of the release will be up shortly.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Thanks from the Community

Damian and Dale from Macaque Management recieving their gifts from Loreto Convent School; who thanked them for all their help, advice and assistance to free the school from the monkeys.

Backstory

The monkeys have as everyone knows not been on their best behaviour here in Gibraltar as of late, but slowly the Macaque Management Team are making headway.

The Mount, just next door to the Loreto Convent School has had macaques visiting the area since way back in the 1800s.  Historical records are testament to this.  The question is why they were there then and still there now!

Back in the 1800s there was a stand of Nettle trees that produced very tasty berries and leaves for monkeys when the season is right.  Those trees are still there now so the draw is the same now as it was then.  Yes, the trees are hundreds of years old - well maybe not all of them - trees have a habit of re-seeding themselves and here in Gibraltar they are protected.

 

 


So today we have a stand of protected trees that the monkeys like and a Convent, which is now a school, just next door.  This school has children who have break times, where the children go out to play in the school playground.  And what do children do in the playground?  They eat their biscuits, crisps, sweets, soft drinks and the like.  The monkeys for their part see this and the draw of these high-calorific foods brings them to the school and the playground in the hope of obtaining these rich hand outs that the children drop as they play.

 

 

Now we have a problem of how to remove the monkeys when all they want are easy pickings.


The Monkey Team, small as it is, can push them away but the draw also has to be removed.  Only when the people with the problem listen to those trying to cure it will a problem go away.  It's a team effort on both sides.

The draw is food.  So now the staff of the school keep the children inside the school building until they have finished eating and drinking, then the children go outside to play.  The monkeys are still there but they very quickly see there is no food.  Easy picking gone, and with a little encouragement from the monkey team, so have the monkeys.  They cannot wait all day in the hope of food, they have to forage, so it's back to the trees and when the trees stop fruiting and all the fruits have gone so will the monkeys.

 

We have to thank the Head and all the Staff at Loreto Convent School for helping the Monkey Team with this joint problem, and thank them for acknowledging the work that they do.


~ Monkey Team

 

Bees for Alameda Gardens!

The Helping Hand Trust donated a bee colony to the Alameda Botanical GardensThe Garden contacted us a few months previous, wishing to have a hive of Gibraltar’s native bee population to help pollinate their plants and to be used as an educational tool.

The hive was provided by the Alameda Garden and the next wild swarm we were called out to collect was put into their hive. After a few months of monitoring to ensure the colony was viable the Helping Hand team waited until the evenings were dark enough to move the hive to its new home.

Moving the hive to its new location provided a few problems. Due to the hive’s structure we were compelled to secure the hive with a mechanical strap, such as one that holds down fragile loads on transport vehicles. The hive has an unusual design and our team was worried that it might come apart during transport.
Care had to be taken so that the bees’ journey was as smooth and quick as possible. Being bumped about can damage the bees’ structure inside the hive and can also lead to the bees abandoning the hive if they feel it is no longer safe.

Time was also an issue. We had to wait until it was dark enough for all the bees to have gone back into the hive for the night but not so dark that we wouldn’t be able see where we were going when delivering the bees.

Fortune was on our side and relocation was carried out without mishap. Wednesday morning the bees were happily going about their usual buziness!

Diving Regulations: Helping Hand Trust As Guest Speaker on GBC

During parliament in October 2009 the Gibraltar Government announced its plans to improve local diving regulations - without giving a time frame. The same week Dr Eric Shaw, founder of the Helping Hand Trust, was asked to speak on the subject on local television programme 'Nightwatch'.

Eric told the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), that he is very pleased about this development, as the Helping Hand Trust and the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GOHNS) have been pushing the issue for well over a decade and had written a respective suggestion on diving licenses in 1996.
"We need a level playing field and safe diving conditions in Gibraltar," said Eric.

Asked by TV presenter Ros Astengo, what he considers to be the flaws in the current regulations, Eric explained that local divers have to go through extensive and expensive training in order to qualify for a license, to dive, or take divers out into the water - even more so when taking divers out on a boat. In contrast to that, Spanish divers and dive operators can simply cross the border with their equipment and dive on the very same sites in Gibraltar without any checks by the authorities. As a consequence it is impossible to tell if those foreign divers have the right kind of training, and whether their insurance covers them in Gibraltar.
The recent death of a German diver who was taken to a diving site in Gibraltar by a Spanish company made it painfully clear that the diving regulations are insufficient, said Eric. Though this was by far the most tragic incident, Eric highlighted that there are many recollections of foreign divers, who were "carried away with currents" and needed to be rescued by the police, fishermen or local divers.

Foreign dive operators need to be in touch with local divers in order to ensure that they do not take risks, said Eric, adding that in other European countries foreign divers have to be guided by local divers who are aware of the dangers of the specific waters and need to obtain and show their permits. Eric also said, that he personally does not hold anything against any Spanish dive operator but expects them to go through the same legal procedures as local divers.
Asked whether he expected to be part of the process of making new regulations, he replied, that the Helping Hand Trust and GONHS expect to be consulted due to the length of time they have been emphasising the importance of those regulations. He also stressed, that he hopes local diving operators will be included in the discussions.