20 Feb. 2002 breaking news @ monachus-guardian.org

IFAW abandons monk seals

Citing post-September 11th financial constraints and a need to “prioritize” its activities, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has recently announced that it is withdrawing from monk seal conservation. The decision, the result of closed-door meetings just days before Christmas at IFAW headquarters at Cape Cod, became official last week and effectively terminates the organisation’s commitments mid-contract.

Although the founders and operators of The Monachus Guardian have committed themselves to producing the May 2002 issue, it is likely the journal will cease publication thereafter if no organisation, company or individual can be persuaded to step into IFAW’s shoes.

IFAW is reputedly attempting to wipe some $10 million from its operating budget, and monk seal conservation is subsequently paying a heavy – many would say disproportionate – toll.

Casualties of the budget-slashing include:
  • The Monachus Guardian (Internet Edition), the biannual journal dedicated to the study and conservation of monk seals and their habitat, now read in over 50 countries, with each issue reaching at least 10,000 people.

  • The Monachus Guardian (Print Edition), an annual volume, incorporating both the May and November Internet issues, mailed to libraries, universities, government departments, teachers, industry and others in over 40 countries (many lacking cost-effective and reliable Internet access).

  • www.monachus.org, the Internet gateway or “home page” of The Monachus Guardian, offering additional resources to teachers, students, journalists and the monk seal conservation community at large, including the Monachus Library and Monachus Profiles.

  • Guarding the NMPANS: Periodically, IFAW has funded vital guarding activities in the Northern Sporades Marine Park in Greece, the monk seal’s most important surviving colony in the Mediterranean [see IFAW provides funding bridge & All at Sea]. Recent appeals to meet the costs of patrolling the area, however, have been rejected.

Although IFAW has attributed its abrupt decision to “prioritizing”, it remains unclear, at present, what conservation priorities might be taking precedence over Europe’s most endangered marine mammal (Monachus monachus), America’s most endangered marine mammal (Monachus schauinslandi), and the establishment of protected areas in some of the most fragile and threatened island ecosystems in the world.

A more detailed report will be made available in our May issue.

IFAW’s announcement is available in the Monachus Library: IFAW. 2002. Statement on The Monachus Guardian [PDF 6KB].

Advice on donations

For obvious reasons, readers are asked to disregard advice contained in recent issues of TMG, recommending IFAW and the IFAW Charitable Trust as suitable recipients of donations specifically earmarked for monk seal conservation activities.

Our recommendations regarding charitable donations to grassroots conservation organisations in Greece (MOm) and Turkey (SAD-AFAG) remain valid.

Support The Monachus Guardian

Readers who consider this web site a valuable source of information on monk seals are encouraged to sign our on-line petition, below:

This petition is in support of The Monachus Guardian @ monachus.org, the world’s only Internet journal and Internet site dedicated to the study and conservation of monk seals, their shrinking habitat, and the forces threatening their survival...

To voice your support for the continued publication of The Monachus Guardian and monachus.org, please sign-on below...

Petition closed 8 Feb. 2003

(if any)

Anyone wishing to comment on monk seal conservation funding in general, or IFAW’s decision in particular, is kindly asked to write to the editor@monachus.org.

Those wishing to make their views known directly to IFAW should write to:

Azzedine Downes
Chief Operating Officer
PO Box 193
411 Main Street
Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

Please send a copy of your correspondence to editor@monachus.org.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

the team at www.monachus.org