Category Archives: Rain Forests

EMERGENCY APPEAL – CERCOPAN’s gates are closing

Robotta

144 Monkeys at risk

CERCOPAN is issuing a one-time emergency appeal to save the lives of 144 monkeys under its care in Calabar, Nigeria. For 20 years, CERCOPAN has provided safe haven and rehabilitation for monkeys rescued from the bushmeat, illegal wildlife, and pet trade – monkeys like Robotta and Action (left).

Unfortunately, a primary donor for the past several years has been unable to support us for more than

12 months now, and therefore, grants that required matching funds have been withdrawn. Without this income, CERCOPAN has no option but to close its rescue centre – placing all of our monkeys at risk.

Experts from an international task force have been on the ground and assessed the situation. The task force has recommended releasing some monkeys to the wild and re-homing others, dependent on such factors as conservation need and a monkey’s health and age. However, this will take time and proper planning. We stand a chance to save all our monkeys if we can just feed and care for them over the coming months while resources are obtained for release and re-homing efforts.

Donations are  crucial to save primate lives

Donations are crucial to save primate lives

We found Robotta after she had been forced to live at a petrol station for the first year of her life, completely unaware that other monkeys existed and unable to learn basic skills like how to feed herself. Now, she is rehabilitated and living with her own kind in a social group. Robotta and more than 300 other monkeys have been saved and nurtured by CERCOPAN’s dedicated team since the organization’s inception.

Please, can you help us ensure that Robotta and friends live out the lives they deserve?

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

All funds raised will be used solely for critical primate care during this interim period.

PLEASE SEND YOUR DONATIONS TO THE EMERGENCY FUND:

http://www.everyclick.com/cercopan/info (also has GiftAid for U.K. donations)

http://www.humanewildlife.org/cercopan.html (provides receipt for U.S. tax records)

 Contact in Europe time zone: Zena Tooze

([email protected]; [email protected]; +44-777-610-1492)

Contact in Australia time zone: Claire Coulson
([email protected]; [email protected]; +61-469-374338)

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.

Wizkid

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.

 

 

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

‘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.jpg

‘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 www.cercopan.org for more information on how to support us. Also check out our facebook fan and cause pages for more pictures, downloads and updates.

Kids.jpg

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

Of mice….and monkeys!

by Alex Gerard, Rhoko Manager

Living in the rainforest always throws challenges your way and in my first 4 months there have been plenty of those! Today was one of the more alarming. Having had a relatively uneventful first hour I walked back into camp to find what appeared to be steam coming off our solar shed’s roof. Since it had just rained and the sun was attempting an appearance I thought that I was witnessing a rather atmospheric event of evaporation and called Sylvain to enjoy it with me (you sometimes take any entertainment you can get!). I soon started to smell a very worrying scent, that of burning plastic! We quickly moved inside the shed where it was obvious that we were very close to a fire as the cables that supply our main shed with light and power for our radio had completely melted and there were sparks flying everywhere. I quickly unwired the dangerous wires, I know what a hero! 😉 and then started to investigate the mess that was left.

Alex fixing the solar power

Alex fixing the solar power

We are often battling against the environment out here, sometimes the weather and sometimes rodents! The start of the damage to the wiring appeared to be from a mouse. You’d think that with all that the rainforest can offer, plastic and wire would be way down the menu! Unfortunately the damage had extended outside of the hut and this meant a complete rewire.

All of our cabling is buried underground, so I had to pull everything up and assess the bigger picture. Like with all jobs, there was more damage to find! Having followed the cables up to the kitchen, where they go under the floor, I found that my furry nemesis had been busy! Not only had he (or she) been chowing down on the supply for the radio under the flooring, it had made the lighting cable it’s desert! This meant I had to remove ALL the wiring to the main shed. We do not have much of the heavy duty cable needed at camp, so I had to use what I could to safely wire up to and inside the hut, then attach to the remaining uneaten cable.

The Solar shed

The Solar shed

As I mentioned earlier and as anyone who does DIY will know, such jobs always lead to more jobs! The radio in the security shed is also fed by the solar shed and it quickly became apparent the Danger Mouse (British reference to one of the best cartoons of the 80’s!) had been slowly destroying our communications! (This could be part of a bigger plot, so be warned!) This meant that my day of wiring was not over and as the light in camp faded I was left to continue with my trusty headlamp, though compared with the rest of the days electrics, this was quite straight forward.

I was certainly an eventful day and I now know that we must all be vigilant as we don’t know when DM will strike again! It also highlights how important out solar shed is. It is the only way we have of charging out portable radios for patrol, security etc. It runs our radio for communicating to Calabar and the outside world. It gives us light for the evenings and powers our laptops for research and for writing these blogs!

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

Dallas is his name…and construction is his Game!

Waking up today in Rhoko Forest, I had an invigourated feeling about the days upcoming events. This feeling was not just inspired by the ever-soothing sounds of the rainforest at dawn, which always does a good job of adding an extra bounce to my step in the morning ( granted, after my first cup of coffee!). My feelings of excitement were multiplied by the fact that I knew we were welcoming a new addition to the CERCOPAN family at Rhoko Camp. Dallas is a Canadian civil engineer who has been building roads in the harsh conditions of Alberta, and decided to give construction in the rainforest a go! Being a Canadian myself, I’m aware just how different those two jobs might be, with their own dichotomous set of challenges posed by very different climatic conditions. But I have every confidence that Dallas is the man for the job!

Dallas on a tour of Calabar HQ with Head Keeper Egu

Dallas on a tour of Calabar HQ with Head Keeper Egu

Claire, Alex (the Rhoko Co-Manager) and I picked Dallas up in Calabar on Saturday evening – coming from Canada, he had been travelling since Wednesday! Arriving in Nigeria is always daunting, regardless of how much jet-lag you are suffering from, but Dallas was relaxed and excited about his new home and new adventure. On Sunday, we travelled up to Rhoko with Dallas, allowing him to get acquainted with our bush truck, and see the sights and sounds of Cross River along the way. A quick tour of camp, dinner, a nice chat, and then relatively early to bed was the agenda once we arrived.

Dallas with Simon at the main hut on his first day

Dallas with Simon at the main hut on his first day

This morning was his first proper day at camp and started out how most days do: up at 7:00 with some coffee and toast, and a chat about the day’s plans and activities over breakfast. Dallas was excited to explore the forest more and see the enclosures, particularly the mangabeys. After a quick meeting with our Assistant Operations Manager, Obio, we sent Dallas to the enclosures with Sylvain, our Research Coordinator to have a look around.  As Dallas was busily exploring Rhoko’s many attractions with Sylvain, we got down to work again, preparing for the move of one of our captive mona groups housed near the mangabeys, to their new home further into the forest. At lunch we reconvened to hear about Dallas’ first impressions of his new home – all very positive!

Dallas is someone who wants to hit the ground running, which really suits our small, dedicated team. He even took it in good humour when I explained to him his first job at camp – fixing his future home! You might remember that we blogged about some storm damage a few weeks ago – one of the hardest hit structures was Dallas’ hut! We are currently housing him in our tourist facility until he can begin work on it. The roof was completely destroyed by a very large tree that fell. We are desperately trying to raise funds to buy the materials to fix his roof so he can move to his home and settle in to life in the Forest. Any donations are greatly appreciated!

Dallas' Hut seriously damaged by recent storms

Dallas' Hut seriously damaged by recent storms

Rhoko Rains Result In Stressed Staff But Merry Monkeys!

Everyone at CERCOPAN (Centre for Education, Research and Conservation Of Primates And Nature) told us that the rainy season in Rhoko Forest is something of an experience in itself. Take the struggles of just living in a remote environment and add enormous downfalls of rain and violent storms causing trees to fall, roads to completely change to cascading water, and just the general annoyance of your laundry NEVER properly drying – then you’ve got rainy season in one of the world’s wettest places! A few nights ago we experienced the first real storm of the rainy season and it was very impressive – lightning struck right next to our main hut, rain pounded our aluminium roofs so loudly we could not hear each other yelling, and trees fell all around us. In the morning we awoke to what I can only describe as scenes of complete devastation! The first storms of the rainy season are always the worst, as all the trees with weak and damaged limbs tend to fall at once with the weight of the water and force of the wind- and this certainly had happened.

In the morning, we received radio messages from our fantastic patrol and primate keepers that trees had fallen on our primate enclosures over night and all our 50 strong group of Red-Capped Mangabeys had escaped! Luckily, their quick work and sharp thinking meant that by the time we arrived at the enclosure (our progress was hindered by having to clear multiple trees along the road just to get our truck down – thank goodness for machetes), our team had managed to tempt the entire group back into their enclosure – never underestimate the power of bananas! Unfortunately though, the tree has severely damaged our fence and repairs are currently in progress to get it fully secure, although it will likely need to be replaced at the damaged point in the near future.

Staff worked tirelessly to clear the road and ensure the truck was able to pass through

With this disaster under control, we moved our attention to the mona enclosures adjacent to our main mangabey enclosure. Two massive buttress trees had fallen to rest on Etimbuk & Twiggy’s enclosure, and were straining the structure enormously. The two Monas however, were having a great time as the trees had brought a smorgasbord of insects for them to munch on and we had difficulty tempting them into a satellite to keep them safe as we worked on the tree removal. Luckily, this event happened on the last day our volunteer, Joe Brophy, was at camp. Joe is a tree surgeon based in the US and was able to help our team safely clear these massive trees – in the process teaching us a lot about the way trees fall, move and how we can clear them. Thanks Joe! Unfortunately, our work did not end here, as we received a message that a tree was blocking the road to the village from our camp. Our team jumped in the truck and sped off to clear the road for all the locals who depend on it to get to their farm and back.

Hard working staff cleared the trees with Joe’s expert help – although the monas were enjoying all the new insects they were finding!

Unfortunately, we also received a message that a tree had fallen on our community centre construction, a project currently underway at CERCOPAN. Again, our team arrived to remove the tree and assess the damage caused. The tree has caused extensive damage to the roofing structures that are just in the process of being built, and this has yet again set us back in our project budget and time line.

The fallen tree broke several beams of wood on the community centre

In our haste to secure the primate enclosures, we did not even notice the medium sized tree that had fallen on Sylvain’s (our Research Coordinator) hut – luckily he was in Calabar at the time! The clear up from the storm still continues but further rains (and extra costs) have hindered our progress and we still have 5 more months of rain to come! If you would like to help our camp survive the remaining wet season and make repairs, (plus ensure dampened staff at least don’t have dampened spirits!), then any donations will be gratefully received and put to good use.

Hanging out with the Mangabeys

One of the best things about having new Rhoko Managers is new blogs from new perspectives. At the moment, everything at Rhoko is exciting and exhilarating for us, as we’ve had many new experiences we couldn’t even dream of! Although we are incredibly busy running Rhoko, we always try to visit our primate enclosures everyday to observe our group of mangabeys. They are surprisingly big and powerful animals and the soap-operas of their families are fantastically entertaining.

Grace with Red Capped Managabeys

Grace with Red Capped Managabeys

A few days ago, Alex had his first encounter inside the mangabey enclosure, which can be a really intimidating experience. Conducting a fence check due to a bad storm the previous night, Sylvain, our research coordinator and Alex went into the enclosure. I stayed watch outside to spot any males sneaking up on them while they were working. Within 5 minutes of being inside the enclosure, the dominant and quite aggressive male, Clyde, decided to investigate this new, unfamiliar face who had entered his group, literally! He climbed onto Alex’s leg and pulled his beard, looked at his face and yanked his hair before satisfying himself that this person was not a threat and walking off to patrol his domain. Following Sylvain’s expertise, Alex stayed still and avoided eye contact and the encounter was intimidating but safe and enlightening. We look forward to many more encounters with these very special creatures!

Grace

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!