Category Archives: Environmental education saving endangered primates

CERCOPAN back to blogging!

The CERCOPAN blog has been dormant for a while… but I am fully committed to again provide you with frequent updates on the ins and outs of our activities in Nigeria! I am Nicky, Director at CERCOPAN. Based in Calabar, I frequently travel to our field locations in Rhoko forest camp and Iko Esai community to make sure all our programmes run smoothly. They usually don’t – one of the perks of my job is that I am called upon whenever problems arise, but not when things are going well! With 36 Nigerian staff members, 6 long-term expat volunteers, a PhD researcher, 172 monkeys, three cats, eight dogs, and a goat, you can imagine my CERCOPAN family is a demanding one. While slightly distracting at times – especially when trying to meet a deadline for a grant application or report – I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Below, as introduction for the new “round” of blogs, a reminder of who CERCOPAN is and what we do!

me & some of our Calabar staff

The Centre for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature (CERCOPAN) is a UK-registered Charity (Reg. No. 1116955) with operations in Cross River State, Nigeria. Our mission has remained the same since we were founded in 1995: to conserve Nigeria’s monkeys and their rainforest homes. CERCOPAN’s work benefits monkeys, communities, and the rainforest to ensure long-term sustainable impact.

RESCUE AND REHABILITATION OF FOREST PRIMATES

CERCOPAN has over 150 primates of 6 different species in various stages of rehabilitation, most of them orphaned by the bushmeat trade. Three of these (the sclater’s guenon, preuss’ guenon and the red-eared guenon) are endangered and only found in this region of Africa. These primates serve as a focus for education, and act as ambassadors for conservation.

Sclater's guenon Ubie

The monkeys are often sick and traumatised upon arrival, and need medical care as well as behavioural and social rehabilitation. The primates, once healthy, are introduced into a group of their own kind. In these groups, social learning between individuals helps the monkeys to improve their behavioural repertoires and portray more natural behaviours. Importantly, social groups are also a tremendous welfare improvement as compared to individual housing.

For those monkeys who are rehabilitated successfully, the ultimate goal is to be returned to the rainforest. In Rhoko Forest, 90km north of Calabar, CERCOPAN’s monkeys live in a one-hectare open forest enclosure where they are prepared for life in the wild. Ultimately, the monkeys are released into the community-protected forest. The restoration of the monkey populations in this area, which have been depleted due to hunting, is important for the regeneration of the forest as well as for the wellbeing of CERCOPAN’s animals.

Red-capped mangabey in Rhoko

Due to the scale of the illegal bushmeat trade combined with CERCOPAN’s successful education campaign, the demand for space at CERCOPAN is enormous. Currently, the primate rehabilitation facilities at Rhoko and Calabar are full. CERCOPAN plans to expand the facilities on a new site, building more enclosures and a larger education centre in the near future to meet this demand.

COMMUNITY-BASED FOREST CONSERVATION

Conservation of primates is just as important as conservation of the rainforests they live in. In Nigeria, pressure on the forests is high – the country has lost more than 90% of its rainforests, and more than half of what remains is found within Cross River State. These forests, along with those in Southwest Cameroon, are collectively known as the “Cross River Rainforests”, and are regarded as one of Africa’s five forest biodiversity hotspots.

CERCOPAN recognises that local communities rely on the forest just as much as the monkeys do. For over a decade, CERCOPAN has a partnership with the local communities adjacent to the release forest, working with them towards sustainable forest exploitation. Through partnerships with local communities, CERCOPAN ensures the protection of almost 40,000 hectares of tropical rainforest.

 

Community forest

The people from the villages Iko Esai, Owai, and Agoi Ibami have stopped primate hunting and logging. In return, CERCOPAN provides boreholes, vaccinations, and training on alternative livelihoods and sustainable farming practices. CERCOPAN strives to ensure excellent community relations through a regular community newsletter and the employment of several staff dedicated to community development including a Community Programme Officer, Education Assistant and Small Scale Micro-enterprise advisor. In addition, most of our 36 Nigerian staff originates from the partner villages.

CERCOPAN is working with three main target groups in the communities; women, youths and hunters, helping them to earn an alternative income. These micro-enterprises include activities such as snail farming, bee keeping, bread making and basket weaving and are implemented at a very local, low cost level providing a source of food and income for the community. This partnership is key to ensure that both wildlife and local communities can reap the benefits of the rainforest for many years to come!

Bread baking training in Iko Esai

EDUCATION

Education is an integral and vital part of our programme, both in rural and urban environments. Each term we conduct outreach programmes in over 50 schools and 2 universities. Conservation Clubs are functioning in 4 schools and 2 universities. CERCOPAN also has a Calabar-based conservation club since 2003 comprising of over 25 members. The group consists of highly motivated and interested students from secondary schools in Calabar. CERCOPAN receives over 20,000 visitors a year at Calabar and Rhoko. Depending on the age and understanding of the visitor, the goal is for visitors to take away a few simple messages about conservation and primates.

Educating the next generation

World Environment Day – “A second christmas”

By Fabian Schmidt

Me, relaxing in Calabar

Me, relaxing in Calabar

On June 5th, CERCOPAN once again held a truly inspiring and flamboyant event to celebrate World Environment Day (WED). The  event was attended by thousands of school children, the Governor of Cross River State, Commissioner of the Environment, Special Advisor on Biodiversity and Forests and the Chairman of the Forestry Commission, amongst many other important guests.

Although CERCOPAN began hosting this International Day of Environmentalism over ten years ago, this was my first ever trip to Nigeria and so I was very excited to be able to witness it for the first time. Coincidently, the celebrations fell on the last weekend of my stay in Calabar and as a result turned out not only to be a great opportunity to meet the Rhoko team again, but also to end my trip on an incredible high note.

Although the event itself is just a single day, CERCOPAN starts the preparations and associated environmental outreach almost 10 months before the actual carnival! Indeed, after one World Environment Day celebration ends, there is hardly time to relax before preparation for the next starts once again in earnest. As the event approaches nearer and nearer, the preparations reach a crescendo and by the final week all staff seem to be working tirelessly day and night to ensure that the event is perfect and hitch free – not an easy task in Nigeria!

I happened to be visiting CERCOPAN in May and June undertaking virology studies to assist CERCOPAN with their important release programme. Although I had set aside the final week of my stay to view pathology folders, it was almost impossible not to become caught up with the excitement of the event and before I knew it, I had been co-opted to join the event planning team! The majority of the funding needed for World Environment Day is provided each year thanks to the kind support of Cincinatti Zoo and Botanic gardens. Nevertheless, CERCOPAN also tries to involve local businesses and government to garner additional in-country support and increase the magnitude of the event.  This year was no exception, and in addition to gaining the support of many local companies, the government decided to help jointly host the event.

World Environment Day 2010 celebrations

World Environment Day 2010 celebrations

Everyone who had previously experienced the day, had explained to me how much June 5th means to the children and how much they look forward to the carnival, music, dancing and celebrations every year. Despite hearing so many stories I was amazed by the sheer strength of the reaction from the children on the day. The Chairman of the Forestry Commission in his speech put it best saying that for him and the children the event was like “a second Christmas”.

Children enjoying World Environment Day

Children Enjoying World Environment Day

The day was filled with unique and colourful dancing, environmental banners, speeches, the giving of prizes for environmental competitions run by CERCOPAN during the year and even a tree planting ceremony. The part of the day with the highest environmental education impact for me however, was probably the drama competition, which took place in front of the governor. His Excellency was not only notably moved by the enthusiasm of the acting, but also made the point strongly that that the future of our environment lies in the hands of the youth.

His Excellency, Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State enjoying the dramas

His Excellency, Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State enjoying the dramas

For me, World Environment day was a great way to end my trip to Nigeria and left me with lots of memories I will never forget. I am sure however, even as I write this and think about last months event, CERCOPAN are already busy working out how to make next years celebrations even bigger and better!

World environment day drama!

World Environment Day forest drama

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 www.cercopan.org 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!

http://www.cercopan.org/Downloads/CERCONEWS_FEB_10.pdf

CERCONEWS FEBRUARY 2010

Can you identify CERCOPAN’s rescued mystery bird?

By Sylvain Lemoine

Whilst CERCOPAN primarily aims to rescue and rehabilitate monkeys orphaned by the bush meat trade, on occasion other types of wildlife are brought in to CERCOPAN in need of our help….

On the 23rd of January I arrived at the office and noticed Abakum, our Education Officer, in an animated discussion with a man in our Education Centre. I overheard him explaining why wild animals don’t make good pets and so, assuming he was just giving the usual explanation about CERCOPAN’s mission, I carried on walking and entered the office. I barely had time to type a sentence however, when Abakum marched triumphantly into the office……brandishing a juvenile bird of prey!!!

Bird of prey sunbathing in it's new spacious enclosure

Bird of prey sunbathing in it's new spacious enclosure

The bird’s owner, ironically called ‘Wisdom’, had brought the bird to CERCOPAN hoping to sell it. He had taken the bird from the parents’ nest and had also tried to catch a second slightly larger individual but thankfully it had managed to fly away. Wisdom had taken care of the bird for a month, catching lizards and rats to feed it and consequently was looking to make a sizeable profit for his efforts. After a thorough explanation of the serious consequences of the animal trade from our education officer however, Wisdom freely and willingly handed the animal over, having realized the error of his ways.

Since arriving at CERCOPAN our new boarder is doing very well and tucking greedily into the dead rats and other meat we are providing daily. As hawks and other birds of prey are generally natural predators of monkeys, we have the bird completely separated from our primate residents. We will also gradually reduce the birds contact with humans over the coming weeks to un-domesticate it and once this process is complete, the bird will be released back into the wild.  We are still struggling to identify the bird as the color patterns on juveniles are highly variable, but we think it may possibly be an African Harrier Hawk. If any one out there can conclusively identify the bird we would love to hear from you!

Can you identify our mystery bird?

Can you identify our mystery bird?

CERCONEWS January edition out now!

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

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Abused baby monkey leaves CERCOPAN staff deeply saddened

On Wednesday (14th October) despite doing everything we possibly could, we were unable to save a young male mona monkey brought to us at CERCOPAN.  This tiny mona arrived to us in a cardboard box, collapsed in a heap and shaking all over.  The man who brought him in said his brother had purchased the monkey that morning and it had been fine, but during the day it had become like this. As we continued to examine the mona, we found that he had a black eye, a wound on his upper lip, was dehydrated and highly disorientated.

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A mona of similar size to the young male brought in
We questioned the man further, at which point he changed his story and said he had been like this when his brother made the purchase.  Realising we were going to get no closer to understanding the circumstances we carried the mona to our vet lab where our Vet Assistant, Austin, began trying to work out why the infant was shaking so severely, similarly to an epileptic fit.  We were mentally going through all the possible conditions that may have caused these symptoms.  The moment we took its temperature though we understood.  His temperature was 42?C (nearly 108?F). We quickly tried to cool him down,  gently wetting his fur and fanning him.  He was still ‘fitting’, a common side effect to such a high temperature, and we held his hands so he had something to hold on to and so that he felt comforted.  He was making small squeals, not like any normal vocalisation a healthy mona would make, and we could tell he was in a lot of pain.

We managed to get his temperature down to the normal level of 38 ?C and he started to reduce his shaking while becoming more aware of his surroundings.  Relieved that he was becoming more stable we started to look in to the next stage of treatment.  We made up a sugar/salt solution to begin to combat the dehydration and fed it to him with a syringe.  Sadly, not long after, the mona started taking another turn for the worse, this time in the opposite direction with his temperature dropping.

We quickly gave him a hot water bottle and wrapped him up in blankets.  He was beginning to shake again and his whimpering told us he was still in pain. Pandrillus vet Ainare did everything she could to save him but despite all of our best efforts he passed away.  We were all desperately sad but also at least relieved the poor infant was suffering no longer.  A post-mortem revealed massive trauma to the head, likely due to being hit with something or kicked.  All of the staff of CERCOPAN had tears in their eyes and were disgusted that anyone could do this to an animal.

Later that evening the brother, who had originally purchased the mona turned up at CERCOPAN to ‘collect’ his monkey.  We explained to him the circumstances of his death and that, even if the monkey had survived, it would not have been given back to him under any conditions, as is protocol at CERCOPAN.  We gave him  tour of CERCOPAN and spent a long time explaining to him why monkeys should not be kept as pets, and the legal implications of doing so under Nigerian law.  A sad day for all here, but it made us all more determined than ever to educate people about wildlife and to provide safe haven for all of the monkeys out there that so desperately need our help.

New babies flexy and delight rescued by CERCOPAN

by Amy Baxter, Temporary Office and Finance Manager

CERCOPAN is pleased to announce that we now have two new additions to our monkey residents!  Saved from an uncertain fate, two young putty-nosed guenons, Flexy and Delight, were rescued by staff and brought to our Calabar compound.  We had a tip-off from a secondary school teacher who visited CERCOPAN with his class not long a go.  While he was here we explained to the class why primates shouldn’t be kept as pets and told them that it was even against the law in Nigeria.  After this short visit to our site, he walked past a compound where he could see two young putty-nosed guenons and he immeditely came to CERCOPAN to inform us.  We were very pleased that our educational messages were successfully absorbed and it gives us great hope for the future that we can continue to change the opinions of Nigerian residents!

flexi-and-delight-baby-putty-nosed-guenons-at-their-old-home.JPG

His information indicated that the owner sold monkeys commercially and so we were even more concerned and determined to rescue the pair and to stop any more trade.  Our Education Assistant, Martina, stopped by the compound on the way to work to investigated the situation further.  She was very concerned upon arrival about the number of ‘area boys’ close by, a group known to be involved in criminal activities and often very dangerous.  She left without entering the compound but could see one putty-nosed guenon from where she stood.  Our bravest lads decided they would all go together to confiscate the putties, feeling strength in numbers was the best pproach on this occasion. They had expected a long debate with the owner to persuade him to give up the pair, but the whole situation turned out to be much easier than expected…….

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Vet nurse Austin with Flexy and Delight

The owner knew CERCOPAN and had visited in the past as he loved monkeys.  He recognized Martina immediately and said he had expected to receive a visit from us at some point.  Our staff asked him is he knew keeping monkeys was against the law and he did, as did his wife who had been nagging him to take them to CERCOPAN for some time!  He had planned to go but had become so attached to the pair, that he had been postponing the visit.  He admitted that had previously  traded in monkeys, selling them for about 8000 naira each (approximately ?30) but had often kept them for a while before selling them to enjoy their company.  When our team had arrived the monkeys were running around the compound, having escaped from their enclosure, but were quite happy to stay around the family home.  They were playing in the trees and climbing on the roof, not a bit disturbed by this large group of people watching their antics.

While arranging the hndover of the monkeys with the owner, we discovered one of them didnt actually belong to him. They had been placed together by the two separate owners to keep each other company.  He was very hesitant to give up the second animal, explaining that the other owner would think he had sold the monkey to make money. The next hour was spent trying to contact the other owner and then negotiating with him and his family. Eventually, our staff finaly talked him into releasing the monkey into our care and Flexy nd delight were brought home to CERCOPAN. They are a friendly and confident pair, even around humans.  So much so that they didn’t even need a travel box on the car journey home, cheerfully clinging to each other and Egu, our head keeper’s, arm.

flexi-and-delight-cuddling.JPG

Now they are waiting at CERCOPAN for their medical tests so they can be moved in to a big group with other puttys.  We have 3 other young puttys and 1 slightly older individual already waiting to move out from quarantine and they will form one big happy group once Flexy and Delight are ready.  They won’t be without their guardian though, making sure they all stay in line; Double Chief, an old male, with be put in charge of the nursery group and will make sure no one misbehaves!

CERCOPAN saves rare drill monkey!

Usually a trip to Agoi is an anticipated event, often for an exciting occasion when the local community are even more cheerful than usual and their specially brewed, extra ‘hot’ spirit is more readily available.  This trip however, was quite different from those usually encountered.

We had received information that a drill monkey was being kept as a pet within the village.  Our first response was to inform Pandrillus, another primate organisation based in Calabar who specialise in drill monkey and chimpanzee rehabilitation.  Due to their current schedule and as Agoi is so close to our forest site, they asked us if we could go and remove the animal from the situation.  CERCOPAN will never buy an animal, as it encourages people to try to catch them for financial gain, and we try to avoid getting the police involved as it deters people getting in touch to donate animals already in their possession.  In these cases we try to negotiate with the owners and hope to persuade them to give up their animal, making them understand why it’s better for the individual and for them.

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Rescued Juvenile Drill monkey     

When we first sent our CERCOPAN representative to see the owner we found it very hard to get our message across.  The owner, did not want to give up the animal.  He said he had paid 4000 naira for the monkey, now a juvenile male named Chris, from a hunter back in January of this year.  He had been caring for it since then and it had been living in a small wooden box constructed from wooden planks at the side of his house.  The box only had some small holes to see out of and soon he would grow far too big for the box, as adult male drills grow to a huge size.

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Adult male Drill Monkey

When our first approach was not working, we attempted to negotiate with someone who had the power to sway the owner’s opinion; the local chief of the village.  The chiefs of a village often have the final say in many decisions and solve many disputes involving village residents.  After consulting the chief he spoke to the owner and began to change the owner’s position on the situation.  To begin with the owner still wanted a reward in the form of guaranteed employment.  Again we had to explain that if we agreed to such terms we would continually have this problem in future situations, and inadvertently increase the number of primates removed from the forest when others decided to use them as a means of getting a job.

Eventually he understood our position and we reached an agreement whereby he would receive a certificate stating that he had donated the drill monkey to us.  We left to prepare a certificate and returned, again to a big discussion about the situation.  Luckily we still managed to make him see he was doing the best thing and Chris was handed over in front of a crowd of around 50 people.  In addition to his certificate we presented him with information leaflets about why it is wrong to hunt monkeys and a poster urging people to protect the highly endangered drill monkey.

To make the entire event official, various traditions had to be adhered to.  After the exchange of monkey and certificate, further exchanges had to be made involving kai-kai; the locally brewed spirit that happens to be particularly strong in Agoi.  This isn’t the kind of exchange where each party buys a bottle and the other takes it home to drink leisurely in their own time – this is when both parties buy a bottle and both bottles must be finished by the end of the gathering.  A little speech was made by both sides and then each departed, swaying slightly from side-to-side!

Chris was brought to our Calabar site late the next evening where he remained in our quarantine area overnight and where he had more space than he had been used to before.  He seemed to enjoy it so much that, by the next day, he was so eager to run around more he managed to escape our trained staff and cause havoc around the office.  After destroying several office items, chewing keys off computer keyboards and peeing on important papers, we finally managed to calm him down and return him to a travel box.  After that he was taken to Pandrillus and reunited with those of his kind.  Now he is busy making new friends and learning what it is really like to be a drill monkey!

October CERCOPAN newsletter now available here!

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

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cerconews-october-2009-edition.pdf

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