Category Archives: CERCOPAN helping communities in Nigeria

Christmas Gift

Dear CERCOPAN Supporters,

It’s almost the time of the year again: Christmas gifts! While for many of us this means luxury items such as the latest smartphone or jewellery, CERCOPAN´s Christmas gift for host village Iko Esai is much more basic: a ration of rice and salt for each household. Christmas is a very important celebration in the community, and this contribution to their Christmas dinners is very important to them.

You can imagine it requires a lot of bags of salt and rice to provide a good amount to each of the 4,500 people in the village! If you can, please consider to make a contribution towards the purchase of the Iko Esai Christmas gift by making an online donation. 1 Bag of rice costs £40/$60 and 1 bag of salt costs £15/$22, but any amount, no matter how large or small,  is welcome – and will be spent entirely on the Iko Esai Christmas gift.

If you wish to make a contribution, please click on the ‘donate’ button on this Facebook Page (US tax deductible), or go to (UK tax deductible).

Thank you so much for your support!


‘Laying’ the foundations for good health and family financial stability in rural Nigeria

CERCOPAN has worked in its host village of Iko Esai for 10 years but, as of 2010, we have also expanded our alternative livelihood community work to over 100 people in Agoi Ibami, a neighbouring village. One of the larger projects targeting women is poultry farming for egg production, which can be done effectively at household level.

Catherine with chicken coop.jpg

Caroline with her partially completed enclosure

Eggs are an excellent source of healthy protein which are difficult and expensive to buy at village levels due to the poor state of access roads to external markets. Local chicken breeds do not produce high quality eggs for consumption and so CERCOPAN, with funding from BNRCC (Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change), has provided assistance to 15 women in Agoi Ibami to purchase agricultural layers that can provide a long term source of income and household protein.

As no one had tried rearing agricultural chickens in rural areas before CERCOPAN’s community conservation manager (Rachel Hemingway) bought two chickens to determine whether they would thrive and lay on locally available foodstuffs. Happily Fatty, one of the chickens, has started to lay high quality eggs already that are being given out to women in the village to encourage this type of farming.


‘Fatty’ chicken, the experiment on locally available food

As with all our work CERCOPAN cannot continue to finance and expand the livelihoods programme without the generous support of individuals and groups from around the world, who we rely on entirely. Please visit our website for more information on how to support us. Also check out our facebook fan and cause pages for more pictures, downloads and updates.


Some of the children who will benefit from our expanded livelihood programme

CERCOPAN’s facebook fun (I mean fan) page

Despite the slow internet speeds in the African continent (or no net at all!), CERCOPAN has become very technically minded!  Now, in addition to our Wildlife Direct blog and our website CERCOPAN can be found to have a strong presence on Facebook.  Facebook, that has taken the world by storm in recent years, have pages dedicated to charity causes and CERCOPAN has been the proud owner of one for 8 months now, having over 750 members and having raised $175.  However now, in addition to that, we have just started a CERCOPAN fan page and it has lots of exciting topics to be investigated!

Look out for our cause page icon above, featuring Mickey the red-eared guenon

Look out for our cause page icon above, featuring Mickey the red-eared guenon

Not only can you flick through a wide range of our photos, several previously unseen, any time you wish that include the monkeys, Rhoko camp and forest, our World Environment Day celebrations, and many other categories soon to come, but you can also participate in surveys (currently to vote on what to name our new baby mangabey), start discussions with us and other fans on a variety of topics, sign up for our monthly Enewsletter, and be transferred to our shop to buy CERCOPAN products including adoption packs and posters!  Plus you can even access our Wildlife Direct blog from there though our networked blogs link!  We soon hope to bring video footage to it too so you can see the monkeys and our team in action! 

Vote on what to name Quality's new baby on our facebook fan page (Photo copyright of Oskar Brattström)

Vote on what to name Quality's new baby on our facebook fan page (Photo copyright of Oskar Brattström)

Why don’t you check it out and make further suggestions on our discussions board on what you would like to see up there?  It’s a work in progress so we would love your feedback!
Keep your eyes open for this image as its our fan page logo!

Keep your eyes open for this image as its our fan page logo!

February CERCONEWS out now!

Finally the February edition of CERCONEWS is available!

Follow this link to download your copy today!


CERCONEWS January edition out now!

The new edition of CERCONEWS is out today. Please download using this link cerconews-january-2010.pdf


Free and Fair election for Community Conservation in Iko Esai!

By Richard Carroll – Rhoko Manager

“It’s a good idea” said the chief, “I like it, but this idea of an can’t work. No, better we just make an appointment of good people.” “But Chief,” I replied despairingly, seeing the previous night’s 3 hours of negotiation over this point slipping swiftly away with each nod of his advisor’s head, “we discussed this, we need to have a democratic election. Appointments have been tried before and they don’t work; these people represent the community’s voice- they need to be chosen by the community.” So began another round of debating on this point. It was a topic of alarming regularity over the next two weeks with apparently nobody in the village believing it was possible to hold a trouble free election. “It has never happened here; it’s not possible” was the consensus. “Trust me, it can be done.” Was my reply through gritted teeth, as I then settled down to once again explain my plan.


CCDC elections –  Richard distributing voting tokens

To be fair I understood the concerns, the election we were planning to hold was to re-inaugurate the village Community Conservation & Development Committee (CCDC). This body initially conceived by CERCOPAN has the responsibility of deciding how the substantial funds from tourism royalties and other CERCOPAN related payments are spent. They should be used to finance any community development project that the CCDC and Chiefs’ Council agree upon, providing it does not detract from concepts of sustainability and conservation. The chiefs were worried that certain timber dealers and others hungry for influence in the area would try to hijack this committee and disrupt the peace in the village. There had been similar attempts recently as those involved in illegal timber exploitation are gradually being squeezed out by the community’s collaboration with state forestry departments; and they were looking for a way to stem the tide.


  At the polling booths

I had already held a series of meetings with people I felt were key individuals in the community. These were young, literate people with a passionate desire to see their community make the most of its opportunities. We had been sitting on the floor around the bedside of one of my staff- Matthew, who was recovering from a motorbike accident, discussing village politics. As we spoke these people not only bemoaned the lack of influence they felt they had but also put forward a vision of how they believed things could be better. It struck me, this was the core of what the CCDC should be and within a few days I asked them to gather themselves and any like-minded individuals they could find for a strategic meeting. Within a few weeks this group had helped to pass out information leaflets, discussed relevant issues and encouraged other people to nominate candidates they would trust to represent their needs in the decision making process. General assembly meetings and manifesto nights for the proposed candidates all helped to add to the buzz being generated in the village.


Iko Esai residents waiting to vote

The morning of the election came around; I set off from Calabar at 6am, having been up all night constructing ballot boxes, and promptly ran into trouble. Heavy rains the night before had rendered one section of the dirt road impassable and I found myself axle deep in a quagmire of sticky orange mud. With no small help from a group of friends from the nearest village, who had happened upon my predicament, as they ferried colossal mounds of bananas to the highway on motorbikes, I was finally freed; arriving tired, filthy and apprehensive to the village. Rapidly organising ourselves, the election team swung into action. Registration and voting stations were manned, security employed at the door and the village bell rung to announce the start of proceedings.


Women Registering for the election

I am told that there was an element of the village connected to the timber extractors grumbling amongst themselves that they were going to disrupt the day; that no election would hold unless they said so. However, they failed to leave their corner of discontent and so missed the atmosphere of celebration 5 hours after polls opened and the successful candidates were announced to the massed crowd. It was extremely gratifying to hear the talk outside the classroom which served as a polling station; “free and fair” could commonly be discerned amongst the other incoherent jumble of triumphant conversations in the local Iko dialect. So happy were the participants with the days events, that I may have made a rod for my own back as it has been suggested we assist with the re-election of several other bodies in the village! I couldn’t be happier with the group of men and women that the community chose to represent them over the next 3 years and despite their initial misgivings, neither it seems could the chiefs. I’m not entirely sure, however, how I feel about the new nickname they bestowed on me; ‘The Bulldozer’- though it does have a certain ring to it.

October CERCOPAN newsletter now available here!

 The October edition of the CERCOPAN monthly newsletter can be dowloaded from the link below



Hope you enjoy it! Look out for the next issue on the 5th November.

Rainforest adventure for local children

Hi, I’m Carrie and I am just coming to the end of a six week stay as a short term volunteer at CERCOPAN. I am currently working on my PhD at the University of Florida focusing on Environmental Education and Primate Conservation and hope to come back for a much longer period next year as part of my studies. I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Rhoko camp, but the definite highlight of my trip was working with the Rhoko education officer, Mike, and organizing an overnight stay for 12 members of the Iko Esai Conservation Club.


Conservation Club group

CERCOPAN has initiated the formation of over 20 conservation clubs in rural and urban schools; encouraging the youth of Nigeria to actively promote and participate in environmental campaigns and events such as the annual June 5th World Environment Day celebrations and tree planting programmes. This rainforest adventure however, gave the children a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest first hand and to gain a solid background to conservation and primate ecology…using the forest as their classroom!

Conservation club members learning about monkeys

The students were amazing and I was extremely impressed with their knowledge and their desire to learn more. Everyone was sad when the activities were over and it was time to leave, but all agreed they had a wonderful time and that we definitely do it again soon. CERCOPAN hopes to run such trips for conservation clubs from urban schools in the future, as some of these children have never seen the rainforest before.

It took a long time to persuade the children that this snake was plastic!

Special thanks to Jan Valkenberg (a former CERCOPAN volunteer) who raised the funds for this and other education activities. I would also like to thank the principle of Iko Esai secondary school for allowing the students to attend, Mr. Hans the science teacher, and the students themselves: Nkoyo, John, Promise, Patricia, Peace, Regard, Gabriel, Oboon, Uso, Redual, Erong, and Akima.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

Phase 1 – Complete!

CERCOPAN has recently undertaken to build a community centre for our host community Iko Esai, thanks to the funding support from Esso (Exxonmobil). Over the last two months CERCOPAN staff and volunteers have been working very hard with the help of some contractors and local labourers to get this project off the ground. Last week we finished phase 1, the preliminaries including clearing the land, pegging the site, building a storage shed, and moulding the first hundred and fifty bags of cement into blocks for the foundation. Amazing how much work goes into constructing a building!


Completed Storage Shed

Just to mould one bag of cement into blocks requires a lot more effort than one might think! First we had to visit a number of dealers to purchase cement, sand and related tools and to bargain with truck owners to transport the goods to site (not easy when trying to stick to a budget and prices are increasing weekly). Negotiations broke down three times, dates were changed, we were even forced to carry 600 bags of cement into the volunteer house to save money when we discovered prices were about to go up and it was too early to transport them to site (if stored too long in the humid conditions at site the cement becomes hard). Then the Rhoko Manager needed to garner community support to help carry local sand, gravel and water to the site and to coordinate accommodation and transportation for the few non-local workers. This involved writing an article for the noticeboard, attending a chiefs meeting and enlisting the services of the Iko Esai town crier. Finally there was the actual hiring of block moulders and then the moulding, drying, stacking and watering of the blocks!  comm-centre-truck-sand.jpg

Packing and transporting sand from the river


Offloading sand at site

Now that the first 4000 blocks are ready, we have begun phase 2: excavation and laying the foundation. Stay tuned for regular updates of our progress!


Stacking the moulded blocks

A smoother path to learning

Short term volunteers Sacha, Jan, Richard, Henk,
Rob, Jeanette and Ruud recently departed
Nigeria after three weeks of hard work.
The group arrived from Holland in early
February to assist CERCOPAN in a community
development initiative involving schools in
our host community, Iko Esai. The group
was well received by all and will be sorely
Men hard at work!
Most notable of their contributions was their work
with Iko Esai’s primary and secondary schools.
Before arriving they raised USD$1200 to be put
 towards the cost of renovating and sprucing up
the schools. In addition to their financial
contribution, they also offered their time
and effort to see the work through themselves.
 As mentioned in a previous blog entry,
part of the group painted the interior
 and exterior of Iko Esai Secondary School.
The other half of the group worked at the
Primary School, cementing the floors,
transforming the previously dirt flooring
into a more modern cement composition.
Thanks to the hard work and caring nature
of this group from Holland, a smoother path
to learning has been paved.


The completed flooring


Do you want to volunteer with CERCOPAN? Visit our website at or email [email protected]



Farewell party