Members' Meeting 2023 in Stuttgart
This year, the Stuttgart Museum of Natural History opened its doors for our two-day meeting. As a successful start into the weekend, the participants were given either an expert guided tour through the historical Museum Schloss Rosenstein or alternatively through its newer section at the Löwentor Museum. On a "trip around the world", one group heard interesting facts about elephant teeth and baleen plates of whales, while the others went on a "journey through time" to learn about fossils from the surrounding area.
The informative afternoon started in the conference room of the Museum of Natural History, with the board welcoming 40 members from all over Germany. First, board member Angela Meder gave an overview of the volatile political and humanitarian situation in the gorilla regions, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She then provided detailed information on the projects that B&RD supported in 2021 and 2022. Here, she once again praised the on-site support and the reliable reporting by long-time assistant Claude Sikubwabo. Board member Burkhard Bröcker complemented the report informing about successful fundraising campaigns, such as cell phone donations and the support of Deutsche Postcode Lotterie.
After a short coffee break with stimulating conversations, the long-time cooperation partner and gorilla expert Martha Robbins from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig reported about her gorilla research and the contribution it makes to the protection of the animals and their habitat. The lecture was given in English and translated by Angela Meder and Laura Hagemann in an audience-friendly way resulting in a lively and interesting discussion and Q&A session.
The former veterinarian of the Stuttgart Zoo Wilhelma, the Zoological-Botanical Garden Stuttgart, Wolfram Rietschel, rounded off the day with lively and entertaining travel insights from the gorilla regions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, thus also highlighting the role of tourism in local species conservation.
The participants enjoyed a successful and pleasant end of the eventful first day with a joint dinner accompanied by a friendly exchange of ideas in beautiful weather at the Natural History Museum's Café Fossil.
On Sunday the official members' meeting took place. After discharging the treasurer and the management board, the new elections were held under the chairmanship of Andreas Klotz. Angela Meder, Burkhard Bröcker and Laura Hagemann have been unanimously confirmed in their board positions for the financial years 2023 and 2024 by the attending members. Karl-Heinz Kohnen also stood for re-election as treasurer for this period and was unanimously elected.
The weekend dedicated to gorilla conservation ended on Sunday with an exciting guided tour through the great ape building at Stuttgart Zoo. In perfect early summer weather, the participants were guided through the ape section in two groups and could thus gain insights into the keeping of gorillas and bonobos.
In view of B&RD's next meeting being the 40th anniversary at the same time, the board received suggestions from the audience and will continue to think about a suitable venue for this special occasion. We look forward to the next meeting. Further suggestions are appreciated at any time.
Christine Driller and Ulrich Gauf