Category Archives: Cercopan

Emergency Appeal to Save African Monkeys – Nearly 150 Lives at Risk

Mangabeys CERCOPAN appeal

Red- Capped Mangabeys at CERCOPAN

A rescue center in Nigeria that provides rehabilitation and safe haven for monkeys rescued from the bushmeat, illegal wildlife, and pet trades is urgently calling for help and has established an Emergency Fund to support the care and feeding of its 144 resident monkeys.

After many years of successfully rescuing and caring for primates in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, CERCOPAN has been severely affected by the world recession and is compelled to close down its rescue center. Financial support is urgently needed to feed and care for the monkeys, while funding is sought to implement a plan (developed with the help of an expert international task force) that aims to: 1) phase out CERCOPAN’s main rescue facility, and 2) implement a conservation programme to release some monkey species into a protected forest in Cross River State.

CERCOPAN has taken key steps to reduce expenditures to ensure that all money is directed to the critical needs of primate care. The organization is also seeking to manage the forest site and primate reintroduction program.

Donations  to  the  Emergency  Fund can  now  be  made  online  by  visiting any of these Internet sites: (also has GiftAid for UK donations) (provides receipt for U.S. tax records)

Donations can also be made via cash or check, through the contacts listed below.

Donations are crucial to save the lives of these 144 beautiful and threatened monkeys.

Contact in Europe time zone:

Zena Tooze

[email protected]

[email protected]


Contact in Australia time zone:

Claire Coulson

[email protected]

[email protected]



For 20 years, CERCOPAN has operated an environmental conservation programme focused on the forests and primates of Cross River State, Nigeria. Throughout this time, CERCOPAN has partnered with other environmental charities, village communities, and the Cross River State Government.

For much of the past 20 years, the organization provided the only formal environmental education programme within Cross River State and reached more than 20,000 individuals a year, with a particular emphasis on school children and university students. The conservation messages in this programme emphasized preservation of the forests of southeast Nigeria for its people and its primate fauna.

For 14 years, CERCOPAN has partnered with the community of Iko Esai to protect 20,000 ha of forest from logging and primate hunting. Sustainable forest management practices, community development projects, a purpose-built community centre, eco-tourism, and employment of local village residents comprise some of the benefits to Iko Esai. In 2010, two neighbouring communities signed conservation by-laws, expanding the protected forest area to 30,000 contiguous hectares.

In 2008, together with partner NGOs, CERCOPAN advised and encouraged the State Government to prioritise environmental conservation within Cross River, and it responded with a state-wide logging ban, actively enforced since its inception.

Since 2009, CERCOPAN has partnered with the Cross River State Forestry Commission to help bring Nigeria through the Observer and Partnering stages of the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) programme. Planning (with UN funding) is now underway for a pilot implementation within the communities centred on Iko Esai.

Finally, CERCOPAN has several threatened species in its care, including red-eared monkeys (Cercopithecus erythrotis), the only group of captive Sclater’s monkeys (Cercopithecus sclateri) in the world, and the largest group of red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus) globally.

About primates:

Primates (monkeys, apes, and prosimians) are intelligent and socially complex animals, but tragically 50% are threatened with extinction due to human activities. Non-human primates are an integral part of the ecosystems in which they live and are sometimes called the “gardeners of the forest,” as the health of their habitats depend on the presence of healthy primate populations. In turn, these same forests help regulate our global climate, and hence humans are also dependent on these threatened animals.

Thank you from CERCOPAN (and Obugu Fine!)

Obugu Fine Sclater's Guenon CERCOPAN

Today was a special day, because thanks to a very kind donation, we were finally able to go ahead with renovations on an enclosure for one of our Sclater’s guenons, Obugu Fine. Obugu Fine lived with his best friend Ben for over 12 years, until we lost Ben to illness at the end of last year. Initially we left Obugu alone in the enclosure they had shared, as its design did not allow for slowly adding a new friend and we had no other free enclosures where we could rehouse him.

A couple of months ago, Obugu was becoming very lonely and we finally managed to free up some space and move him to an older enclosure closer to other animals and with more potential for an introduction. Unfortunately, whilst this enclosure had two parts making it ideal for our purposes, one part needed extensive repairs. We were therefore forced to place our plans on hold pending funding and restrict his movements to the good side of the enclosure.Wood for repairs of Obugu Fine enclosure CERCOPAN

Whilst primate rehabilitation is the cornerstone of our project and has impacts that extend well beyond the welfare of the individual animals we save, it is by far the most difficult aspect of our work to fund. The global financial crisis has made it harder than ever before to undertake the constant construction and repairs needed at our sanctuary and so a donation like the one made for Obugu means the world to us. Thanks to this generous personal donation, we have been able to buy all the wood, platforms, mesh, nails and other materials we needed to go ahead with our plan. After we repair the enclosure, Obugu Fine can not only enjoy all the extra space, but also the company of female Sclater’s guenon, Braylee! We will keep you updated on the progress of the introduction over the coming months.

If you would like to help our primate rehabilitation programme and the 170 animals in our care, please consider donating today.

And they call it…Putty Love

Felicia and Wizkid hugging

As you may remember, two small putty-nosed monkeys called Felicia and Wizkid were brought to CERCOPAN last December. One of them, Felicia, had been formerly abused by factory workers and was not using one of her back legs properly. Everyone at CERCOPAN was very concerned about the small monkey, as we were afraid that the leg might be paralysed. We took Felicia for an X-Ray to find out what was wrong, but to our surprise, nothing unusual was evident.


Initially, Wizkid would carry his new friend around in their enclosure, since she was not using her leg properly. Austin, our vet nurse, also took great care of Felicia, giving her leg massages and antibiotics. Over the weeks, her leg gradually improved and she began to move independently. Felicia now walks so well, it’s hard to imagine the condition her leg was in when she was brought to us! Whilst we are still not sure what rendered her leg unusable,  we are all very relieved that everything worked out well and are sure that her recovery was due in no small part to Austin’s efforts and the support of her best friend.

Wizkid no longer needs to carry Felicia around, but the pair still spend most of their time clasped together, hugging. Once they are old enough to be moved to a family group, we will ensure that they remain together. Felicia is still a little more reserved than Wizkid, who as you can see likes to put his face as close to the camera as possible, but with time we are sure he will bring her out of her shell.



My first weeks at CERCOPAN


Kim Nouwen in the forest

I am  very happy to introduce myself to all CERCOPAN supporters as the new Calabar Sanctuary Manager. My name is Kim and I am from the Netherlands. I have been very passionate  about primates, since taking my first internship at Monkey World Rescue Centre in the UK. Primates have something special that intrigues me: they are very clever, energetic and every one has a completely different personality. With primates, there is never a dull moment!

During my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry and my Masters degree in Animal Sciences in the Netherlands, I always looked for possibilities to work with primates abroad. I was therefore delighted when I was able to conduct my masters research on the vocalisations of wild orangutans in Borneo, Indonesia. I spent eight months at a remote research site in a protected forest collecting vocal data by following the orangutans from dawn till dusk.

Kim with CERCOPAN staff

After graduation, I started working at an international animal welfare organisation as a campaigner and volunteer coordinator. Although I enjoyed the work, I missed working with primates and the feeling of truly contributing to the conservation of endangered species. Besides, I wanted to gain more hands on experience in the field. Well, I am certainly getting that at the primate sanctuary of CERCOPAN! My work as a manager mainly involves the management of 15 local staff,  financial administration of our programme and making sure all our primates receive the best care possible. I am very excited to get to know every individual primate we house at CERCOPAN and already feel that I am contributing my experience where it matters most. CERCOPAN undertake great work and I am am very proud to be a part of it.

Together with our other staff, I will post regular blogs to keep all our supporters up to date on the latest news here in Calabar.

Felicia and Wizkid

Ten days ago, an expatriates driver showed up at CERCOPAN’s gate with a small putty-nosed monkey. He explained that the expat traveled back to his country, and in his absence, the workers at the factory where she was kept had been abusing her. The monkey was scared and unable to use one of her back legs. The driver informed us that the monkeys name was Felix, but given that the little orphan was female, we thought Felicia a tad more appropriate!

Felicia soon got used to us, throwing major tantrums whenever we put her back into her travel box so that we could get some work done! The first few nights, she was bottle-fed milk formula because she didn’t understand how to drink from the bottle herself. She was less scared, but we felt sorry for her because she seemed quite lonely.

Felecia the Putty Nosed Guenon

Two days later, another man arrived at CERCOPAN with a putty-nosed guenon, called Wizkid. This monkey was in much worse condition than Felicia and was extremely thin and small for his

age – we were all amazed when the man mentioned that Wizkid had been his pet for 5 months!  Wizkid’s sister had died the week before, probably from malnutrition, which had likely prompted the man to surrender his second monkey. Although very skinny, Wizkid is an energetic little animal. Felicia didn’t know what was happening when we first let him into her travel box! As is generally the cases with young orphans brought together at CERCOPAN however, it didn’t take them long to become the best of friends and Wizkid quickly taught Felicia to drink milk from the baby bottle.

Felicia having an xray

Shortly after they were introduced we moved them to a larger outdoor enclosure, in the area we call the ‘baby nursery’.  Felicia rides on Wizkid’s back whenever she is tired of moving around using her arms. They spend a lot of time hugging, and don’t like it one bit if we separate them for medical tests! When we take Felicia out to work on her leg, it is actually easier to take both of them – it is impossible to handle her when Wizkid is screaming in the enclosure.

The only worry now is Felicia’s leg. We took her for an X-Ray and are waiting for the results. We hope that with physical therapy we can return some strength to the leg, but the chances are looking slimmer every day. For now, we are just pleased that she is so happy with Wizkid and hope that they will grow up happy and healthy together.


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!


Learning to monitor the forest

Another blog from our Patrol Coordinator Chris Hamley!


Locally effective forest protection activities have many elements: environmental awareness, alternative livelihoods, strong governance and enforcement. Central to CERCOPANs approach to conservation in Cross River State is also to build the capacity of local communities to conserve and monitor forest biodiversity autonomously of external organisations.

We have assisted our partner communities (Iko Esai, Owai and Agoi Ibami) to establish surveillance teams that function as part of community conservation and development committees. These CBOs are mandated with working with CERCOPAN to design new development and livelihood projects, and regulate the use of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in their forested locality. Following expansion of surveillance teams from Iko Esai to Owai earlier in 2012 we have recently conducted a week long training exercise with Agoi Ibami community members.

Two individuals from Agoi Ibami, Etim and Sunday, accompanied CERCOPAN patrol officers (Lucky and Jerry) and myself (the NTFP Coordinator) for a patrol through the community forests. The aim was to identify what level their abilities were at, familiarise them with conservation concepts and the by-laws, and develop their skills in data collection and GPS use.

Lucky explaining how to collect information on shed use

Through my work here at CERCOPAN, I have focused a considerable amount of time on building the accuracy and usefulness of our community forest patrol data collection. We focus on recording information on NTFP activity, forest threats (e.g. logging and slash and burn farming), species presence and bushmeat offtake. Equipped with GPS units, we are also able to add a spatial component to the work, allowing us to identify the locations of new sheds, streams, illegal activity and species sightings on mapping software. It was the competent ability of our patrol officers that allowed myself to take a small step back and allow them to undertake a large part of the teaching required over the patrol.

On the first day, the patrol officers confidently took the lead to explain how they write on the data sheets and take GPS waypoints while following the correct protocols. Lucky also gave a short presentation on CERCOPAN, by-laws and forest threats using some awareness cards that we take to hunting sheds to show NTFP collectors. This was followed up by an evening of lively discussion on the benefits of forests to local communities, the impacts of hunting and logging, and the need of hunters to obtain meat to provide for their family. With Sunday being a hunter and Jerry an ex-hunter there were a number of interesting points raised that allowed us to argue the case for conservation.

Sunday, Lucky, Jerry and Etim

Over the following 3 days we gradually gave more responsibility to the surveillance team, who were more confidently writing and taking waypoints towards the end of the patrol. In total we trekked almost 40km over 4 days and conducted 8 hunting shed checks, we did not encounter any hunters because of the full moon (reduces catchability) but did meet 16 wild salad collectors. We also observed numerous blue duiker, an African buffalo and a group of putty-nosed monkeys.

It is now the intention that the newly trained Agoi Ibami surveillance team will take an independent patrol of their community forests to identify any threats, map hunting sheds and communicate the conservation message to their forest users.

Chris Hamley

If any readers want to support our remote area patrol team, we would gratefully appreciate donations of the following equipment:

  • Hennasy Hammocks (currently the patrol sleep on the floor of hunting sheds in often uncomfortable and exposed conditions, if we could have 2 hammocks our patrols would be far more flexible –we could stay in areas with no active sheds if need be, and the staff would be more motivated)
  • Trekking rucksacks
  • Bivi-mats
  • Weatherwriter
  • Waterproof field notebooks
  • (Rechargable) headtorches
  • Rechargable AA and AAA batteries (and charger)

Alternative livelihoods

You might have seen the posts on the blog and Facebook Page about CERCOPAN’s implementation of livelihoods projects in Agoi Ibami, Iko Esai, and Owai. But why are we doing this? What does it have to do with primate conservation? Let me explain…..


The forest communities Iko Esai, Agoi Ibami and Owai are highly dependent on the forest for income and protein. Hunters and non-timber forest product (NTFP) collectors make extended trips into the forest in search for wild meat and other NTFPs (e.g. salad, bushmango). Some of their catch is consumed by the family, what remains is sold. At the same time, farmers exert pressure on remaining forest by clearing tracts of land for new farms, and often use snares to catch animals that wander out of the forest in search of food on their farms.


Boy selling bushmeat in Iko Esai

The alternative livelihoods projects that are implemented by CERCOPAN are targeted towards those groups with a disproportionally large impact on the rainforest and wildlife. By offering hunters, NTFP collectors, and farmers alternative sources of income and protein, CERCOPAN creates an environment where sustainable exploitation of the rainforest´s resources is possible.

The local conservation bylaws, agreed between CERCOPAN and the communities, include many stipulations, including a ban on primate hunting and a ban on the use of snares. However, can we expect people that live in poverty, struggling for their survival, to not shoot a monkey when the chance presents itself? By providing alternative sources of income and meat, sustainable and selective hunting is made possible. If they are occupied elsewhere, and have additional income, hunters might just forego to make that kill. And if they don’t, there is the CERCOPAN patrol team to take appropriate action.

This year, CERCOPAN has been able to implement alternative livelihoods projects in Owai, Iko Esai, and Agoi Ibami with financial support from IUCN France. The first round of implementation is ongoing. In this round, around 60 community members will be set up and trained in different alternative livelihoods projects. A second round of projects will follow in 2013. The projects for each community have been selected in a participatory process and based upon experiences of CERCOPAN and other NGOs in different countries. Each community is different, and the projects reflect that. Iko Esai has chosen for a project involving domestic meat supply, which will provide a source of income to the group and will provide an alternative to wild meat. In Owai, fifteen snail farms and ten beehives have been set up. The snails are an excellent protein source and can be sold in the village, and the farmers have known a productive first season since April. The bees will produce honey that can be sold.

Over the coming months, we will keep providing updates on the implementation of these alternative livelihoods projects. Stay tuned!

Beekeeping training in Owai

Hunters Workshop in Iko Esai

A blog by NTFP coordinator, Chris Hamley!

Targeting key groups in our partner communities to build trust and convey our conservation message is a key aspect of our work here on the edge of Cross River National Park. Many of our forest protection actions are closely linked with reducing pressure on forest biodiversity and eliminating the illegal hunting of primates and other species at high risk of extinction.

Hunters are a key community stakeholder group who have a disproportionally greater impact on biodiversity than other forest users. It is essential that these individuals have a good understanding of the state of biodiversity in the area, the conservation laws and the potential impacts of bushmeat hunting. Awareness raising has the power to change attitudes to resource use issues and often motivate changes in behaviour that lead to a greater willingness to accept conservation measures. We use it to work tangent with our other activities: protected area patrols, alternative livelihoods and governance strengthening to create a package of measures.

CERCOPAN recently hosted an awareness training programme with the Iko Esai hunters group. We aimed to build a better understanding of 1) CERCOPAN as an NGO and the work it conducts, 2) forest biodiversity and in particular primates, 3) the local conservation by-laws and 4) the Iko Esai Community Forest land use zoning system. Designed and implemented by our Education and Capacity Building Coordinator, Dan Roper-Jones, and Community Liaison Education and Outreach Officer, Mike Ekpe, the training was a considerable success with 27 participants, accompanied by our protected area patrol team and the Iko Esai CCDC surveillance team committee.

Key messages conveyed in the training were designed to overcome some of the local misunderstandings of conservation and demonstrate how no-take-areas can work to provide a “save-zone” where animals are free to reproduce and then replenish adjacent areas. This is the core concept used to build hunter support for the core area we work so hard to protect.

Many remote rural communities in developing nations have different cultural systems that shape the way they perceive nature. One of the central understandings of local people here is that animals can never go extinct and will be perpetually replaced, often expressed in pidgin as “finishing”. The workshop explained how many species have gone extinct in recent history, providing evidence that this can indeed happen.  This was followed by a description of the actions that hunters can take to reduce their impacts, follow conservation law and protect biodiversity for future generations.

The workshop closed in high spirits with an offering from CERCOPAN of a few small bottles of kai-kai (a local alcohol processed from palm wine) and a jerry can of palm wine, following in community traditions. We were even able to snap a great group photo before everyone headed home, enjoy!

Rent payment… check!

I am so pleased to share the news with you that, thanks to a very generous donation of a close CERCOPAN friend, we have now collected the remaining amount for our rent payment!

This means we have secured the homes of our monkeys for another year.

We would like to thank all of you who has supported us through these past weeks. We are very grateful to everyone who has made a donation, and to everyone who has supported us with kind messages and by sharing our plea for help with others.

We could not have done this without you!