2022 Members' Meeting

Categories: Journal no. 65, Organisation

Participants during a tour of the zoo (© Manfred Hartwig)

Winnie Eckardt reports about her work for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (© Angela Meder)

Dinner at the Hoflokal (© Angela Meder)

Finally a reunion with a full program! A total of 51 participants from all over Germany made their way to this year's meeting in Hanover. The meeting began with Angela Meder from the Board of Directors briefly informing the participants about the worrying crisis situation in eastern Congo and the organisation's projects with the eastern and western gorillas. Fellow board member Burkhard Bröcker then made a presentation about how corporate partnerships have become increasingly important for the organisation in recent years. For example, cooperation with the German Postcode Lottery has enabled regional projects in the vicinity of the Maiko National Park to be financed.

Three researchers also presented information about exciting developments from their areas of expertise. Veronika Städele, now at the German Primate Center in Göttingen and formerly at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, gave a lecture on the analysis of Y-chromosomal DNA in free-living gorillas. From this, conclusions can be drawn about the migration movements and population sizes of the gorilla subspecies.

Winnie Eckardt, primatologist at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) since 2004, joined the meeting via video-link from Rwanda. In her presentation, she discussed the influence of different lengths of care periods on the development of young gorillas. Members also learned that contact between the gorillas and researchers from the DFGF had been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anne-Céline Granjon, who previously also worked at the MPI, reported that during her time there, an increase in the number of mountain gorillas was determined which was very encouraging. She described how in 2015, more than 100 people in international teams took faecal samples from the gorillas' sleeping nests over a period of 3 months, after which the samples were then examined by the researchers. A second survey was carried out in 2016.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants met for a group dinner at the Zoo's "Hoflokal" restaurant, with conversations lasting until late into the night. On the same night, the zoo also hosted a festival which included arts and crafts and hip-hop performances. Unusual sounds in the zoo, for both animals and visitors.

On Sunday, the group turned its attention to the zoo's animals: Klaus Meyer, gorilla keeper at Hanover for over 45 years, and curator Fabian Krause discussed their work with the Hanover gorillas and how it has been such a great success for the zoo.

Marieberthe Hoffmann-Falk