Category Archives: Saving endangered monkeys

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!


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…….


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.


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.


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.


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!

Truant baby Mangabey returns home

On the 30th September, one of our youngest mangabeys found his adventurous streak and took a trip to the ‘outside world’.  Despite being in a large 1 hectare, semi-free ranging forest enclosure Judim, approximately 6 months old, decided he was ready to explore a bit further afield.  The primate keepers at our Rhoko forest site were very surprised when they arrived one morning to discover the small mangabey climbing the trees outside the enclosure.  It is particularly rare that we have mangabey escapes at our forest site, mainly as their enclosure is so large they are usually quite happy inside, and also because we have an electric fence running around the outside making it particularly difficult to climb out without a little buzz!  The only time we worry about escapes is when a storm has caused a tree to fall on the fence and we have some teenage males looking to find exotic girls from another troop!


Judim our little adventuror!

What was even more surprising about Judim’s escape was that usually he was such a quiet, nervous infant! It is very rare to see him away from his mum, so where this daring notion came from is anybody’s guess!  We think he must have crawled under the electric tape to where the normal metal fence is and then started to climb up, being small enough to not touch the electric tapes about 25cm away.  Once he got to the top I don’t think he realised he would be separated from his mum if he played in the ‘adventure playground’ the other side of the fence. Once he was on the other side and this separation dawned on him he wasn’t too happy, nor was mum for that matter! Both mum and infant started to get distressed, and Judim tried several methods to try to get back in with the other mangabeys.  The CERCOPAN workers who had gone to help tried to reduce their stress by not getting too close and attempting to distract the rest of the group with food.  It would be impossible to pick up the infant and return him to the enclosure without being mobbed by the group, so everyone was forced to wait while Judim worked out a method to return himself.  Eventually, after several different tactics had failed, Judim cimbed a tall tree over-looking the enclosure.  Here he weighed up his options and chances of leaping back in to the enclosure and, with baited breath, the staff looked on. With every other possibility exhausted and now clearly desperate, Judim took the death-defying leap and luckily landed safely in his mother’s arms.  Both mother and Judim were extremely relieved and joyful about being united, but I’m pretty sure Judim got a serious telling off when these emotions wore off!


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.

Pica, our cute baby mangabey, proving herself one tough cookie!

Back in June Peace, a female mangabey from Callistus’ group, had her first ever infant, Pica.  Pica, a beautiful baby girl, arrived just 2 weeks after the birth of Marvelous; a bouncing baby boy, born to Mercy.  As Peace’s first infant, she was rather unsure how to look after Pica and seemed confused as to what her motherly duties involved.  As the first few weeks passed, her mothering instincts began to develop and improved somewhat, but unfortunately, as we carefully observed the pair we could see that Peace was still not fulfilling some of the important jobs she needed to do.


Peace and Pica: at times her mothering instinct kicked in. 

Peace easily lost interest in Pica, and so Pica spent a lot of her time riding around on the back of her older brother, Marley.  These two got on famously and Marley was always there to lend a helping brotherly hand!  She really enjoyed playing with him and he enjoyed playing with her, unless he wanted to play-fight with some of his older friends!  When Marley was not around though and Peace wasn’t interested, we had the problem that, in this prolonged wet season we are experiencing here in Cross River State, Nigeria, there was no-one to shelter Pica from the elements.  Being so small she felt the cold easily and when there was no-one to cuddle up to when she was wet, the staff at CERCOPAN began to worry.  In addition to this we had noticed that Pica was not putting on weight like Marvelous, who was only 2 weeks older.  As we continued to pay close attention to Peace and Pica’s relationship, and the nursing behaviour of the pair, we eventually came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to remove Pica from the group and hand-rear her until she was strong enough to return.  It was a tough decision and always a last resort here at CERCOPAN.

  Despite the vast experience CERCOPAN volunteers have in hand-rearing rescued, orphaned infant monkeys, Pica proved to be somewhat more difficult.  Never before had we had the problem of the mother still being in the vicinity and in ear-shot of the infant.  Pica refused to eat while she could hear her mother, and the two were continually trying to communicate with each other.  Our best option was to take Pica to our volunteer living-quarters two doors down the road and here she became much more settled.  Now she is a happy little monkey who loves lots of attention when she’s fed. She runs around the room where her travel box is being kept, climbing and jumping off the furniture.  She is putting on plenty of weight and we are really happy with the progress she is making.  We can’t wait for the time when we can reunite her with her mother, her brother and the other members of her group.

By Amy Baxter, Mangabey Research Coordinator, temporary Finance and Office Manager

Photographs by Sam Trull

 Pica after she has rolled in mud or food!

Pica, after having rolled in either mud or food!

Clyde’s ‘rearguard’ action on YouTube

Hi everyone, Zena here. Claire has been having difficulties signing on to the site (slow connection….!) so here I am. Over here in the UK I have been going through a lot of our video footage and putting together a few short films for youtube to publicize what we do – nothing like a moving image to give you a sense of what things are like for the team out in Nigeria! The latest one is the story of moving our first rescued mangabeys to the forest enclosure at rhoko (Sagan talked about this group and the research we are doing in an earlier blog – this is our future release group, and the focus of Sagan’s PhD next year).Clyde checking on his group behind him

Clyde checking on the rest of the tightly clumped group as he plays the ‘rearguard’ role

Four years later they are doing incredibly well in the 1 hectare forest environment, and the original 18 individuals have grown to over 40. Research carried out since the first day of their introduction ‘back to the forest’ indicates there little difference behaviourly between those born inside the forest enclosure and those wild born – a good indication for a successful reintroduction!

Matriarch Odudu enjoys some homage from low ranking Banja, deep inside the enclosure

Matriarch Odudu enjoys some grooming from low ranking Banja, deep inside the enclosure

Other videos recently uploaded also include one on our released mona monkeys, ecotourism and one of our first world environment day parades. You can see these on the CERCOPANHQ channel. Enjoy!

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Rescued baby monkey heals quickly with expert care

Exactly a week ago, CERCOPAN staff rescued an as yet un-named infant putty nosed monkey female (see previous blog) with a seriously injured left hand.  In only a week, this young monkey has transformed from a traumatized little girl, into a confident and adventurous individual!  Not wanting to encourage too much movement of her hand she stays in a travel box most of the day, but does come out for play sessions around the volunteer office and living room, stopping occasionally to rest on the back of one of our chairs (see picture below). 


Truly a character, this monkey knows no fear!  She leaps around so happy to be free! Climbing everywhere and trying to use her broken hand.  She is also very vocal, and makes it known to me frequently when I am not paying her enough attention.  Enjoying the reassurance that my arms provide, she jumps into my chest every time something scares her or I call her back from a dangerous feat!  I can tell already, her progress is going to be interesting, and we will surely keep everyone posted!  Thanks to all for helping to support CERCOPAN, because of people like you we are able to take care of little monkeys like her. 

14 days left and thanks to you all, only $1182 to go!

Fantasic news…thanks to our wonderful readers out there, we only have $1182 left to raise towards our rent!!! Recent donations from Kathy S, Kevin C, James M, Brenton H, Mark H, Ji-in L, Harry V, James M, Julie T, Jennifer S, Wanda H and Christine C have brought us so close to our target and there are still 14 days to go. When we started this appeal with $3333 to raise in little over a month, it seemed almost impossible…..but now we are almost 2/3 of the way there. Thanks very much from everyone at CERCOPAN for getting us here.

For all of you wishing to help our cause, you can now also support CERCOPAN by using ‘everyclick’ as your search engine. Simply add everyclick to your favourites or as your home page ( and then each search you undertake raises money for our organisation. Even if you only search a couple of times a day every click counts.  Encourage your friends to participate too!


Little Ema eating orange

CERCOPAN’s future still hangs in the balance

Apologies to all of you for not giving an update on our situation for a few days….I know many of you are following our struggle to raise funds and are almost as worried as me about it! Sadly I haven’t been able to spend much time at my computer as I’ve been pretty unwell so have been trying to work on other things that don’t involve staring at a screen! I was hoping it was just a headache or cold, but I am now pretty sure I have malaria, so I will take some drugs today and hopefully be back to my normal self in the next 2 or 3 days …

We received disheartening news yesterday that two further sources of funds that I had been desperately awaiting news on are no longer a possibility for this year. I don’t think there has ever been a more difficult time for small charities to raise operational funds. In this global crisis, multinational companies, banks, foundations and individual donors have all been hit and are these are precisely the avenues we utterly rely on for funds. Im trying to stay hopeful though,  Im sure if we just keep trying every single available option, eventually our hard work and effort will pay off.

We still need to raise i$1742 and there are 20 days left to go. Huge thanks to Mr G, Kathy, Christine, Pirjo, Samantha and Bryony for their support. I can’t emphasise enough how much we all appreciate your efforts. The amount of work it takes to make a project like this run day to day can be exhausting for the volunteers and staff; and a crisis like this only serves to make the days longer and harder. To know that there are people in our corner who really care makes all the difference and your support is invaluable in so many ways. A massive thank you to all of you for everything you are doing!


Some of the CERCOPAN staff posing for a photo on George (our vet interns last day)

Bottom Left: Martina, me, Glory, George, Amy, Sam

Top left: Joshua, Austin, Egu, Richard, Matthew, Etan, Abakum

One step closer to Security for CERCOPAN monkeys

So many of you have contacted me asking how the appeal is going and how much we have left to raise. Although there is still a way to go, I am happy to tell you that thanks to the generosity of Wildlife direct readers…. we now have $1395 of the $3333 we must find in order to pay our rent by September 1st! We are almost half way there and it really is down to all of you…your help could not have come at a better time.

Once again, I must say a huge thank you to everyone who has given their support so far and to Jennifer S, Karen M, Kristine K, Brigitta S, Carol Z, Mary H all of whom have recently given to our appeal. Every donation brings us closer to our target and we are really starting to feel like we may get there in time!

For those of you following Ikom and Okon’s progress, I also have fantastic news! Both babies returned to their groups today in full health. As you can see below..they are already fitting back in very nicely with their families 🙂

Okon being groomed moments after entering the group



Austin and Joshua opening the encosure to return Ikom to his family


Ikom clearly relaxed back with his friends