Tag Archives: African Wildlife


Angelica is one of our newest orphans, she arrived late August (see August 24th article). She is a female Red Eared Guenon, only found in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria.

She was found by rangers from Iko Esai’s surveillance team when they were patrolling the community forest. Angelica was tied to a hunting shed, but no hunter was around and her mother was nowhere to be seen – likely she has been killed for meat. The rangers brought Angelica back to our forest camp, Rhoko. There she was looked after by volunteers for a couple of days, and was sent to Calabar with the truck to receive proper medical attention and care. At first, she was hardly using her rear legs and we were afraid she might have a permanent injury, but this turned out not to be the case. She now uses her legs correctly.

Angelica, a few days after she was rescued

During the first days in Calabar, Angelica was very shy and needed a lot of attention. She had to be carried by someone (a substitute mother) at all times, and would start screaming and crying as soon as you would (try to) leave her alone! The only moments of rest for her caretaker was when she was asleep! After 5 days she became more confident and started to wander a few meters away on her own. After a week, a Mona guenon orphan was brought to us, Evie, and they were put together. Evie, being a bit bigger and extremely playful, was a bit “too much” for Angelica at first, as she did not like Evie’s jumping displays. Eventually, Evie understood that Angelica was not up for games, but only for cuddles! And they became very close friends. Actually, Angelica seems to have taken Evie as her new mother, clinging onto her belly the way baby monkeys do with their mothers. Her removal from her real mother has definitely traumatised her, and she is now panicking at the idea of losing her “second mother”, Evie. If we separate them even shortly, she will scream and will not stop calling and looking for Evie until they are reunited! She is a strong minded little monkey, she knows what she wants (whether it be Evie, or a hug from her!) and lets everybody around her know it too 🙂

Angelica (left) and Evie (right) cuddling

Donate to CERCOPAN via the National Wildlife Humane Society

Just within the past few weeks we have established a promising new alliance with a like-minded conservation organisation in the United States. The National Wildlife Humane Society (NWHS) is dedicated to reducing suffering among captive and non-captive wildlife.

Patrick Webb, President, founded the Top of the Rock Wildlife Sanctuary in 1990, in Arkansas, U.S.A. Species such as tigers, mountain lions, jaguars, and the snow leopard have been rescued within the US, and brought to the sanctuary to receive specialised long-term care. But in addition to providing sanctuary for non-US-native threatened and endangered species, the organisation also promotes wildlife conservation groups that share its vision of a more humane world for wildlife.

NWHS invited CERCOPAN as one of two organisations based in Africa to feature on their website as an alliance partner. In addition to the publicity NWHS can provide for us on the other side of the Atlantic, the website also provides the means for donors to provide monthly or one off federal tax-deductible donations to CERCOPAN, both mailed and on-line.

It’s a great bonus to us to have an active advocate for our cause on another continent, and this step forward fits right in with our strategy to continue to rapidly expand our publicity using the latest on-line media. We were also delighted when our Director, Claire, was invited to serve on the NWHS Wildlife Advisory Council to provide both primatological support and field-based environmental conservation experience to NWHS.

Read more about NWHS’s work in wildlife care at www.humanewildlife.org and visit CERCOPAN’s page at http://www.humanewildlife.org/cercopan.html

National Wildlife Humane Society Logo.jpg

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!

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?

How your donations in 2009 helped CERCOPAN

Dear CERCOPAN supporters,

Thank you again for all your support in the past difficult year. We would like to give you an idea to where the $4288 you raised last year went within the organisation.  This amount could pay for a month and a half of monkey food for our 160+ monkeys.  This includes daily fruit, vegetables and nutritious leaves, fish, groundnuts, eggs, and specially cooked monkey cake and moi-moi.  Moi moi is a Nigerian dish made from ground beans, herbs and water.  Within this is also milk and nutrend, a nourishing formula mixed with water and given to young or unwell animals.


Putty nosed guenon eating orange

Those who contributed towards veterinary care helped pay for vital drugs, medical tests, disinfectant, and equipment including babies milk bottles, gloves, surgical blades, facemasks and thermometers.


Vet nurse Austin conduting  faecal tests for internal parasities

Additionally, a lot of people contributed to the rent Calabar premises which was due at a time when we discovered several regularly received grants were cancelled, due to the fiacial crisis.  Without this money we would have surely closed and we are very grateful to all who helped us, during this difficult period.

In 2009, CERCOPAN gained 13 primates through rescues:  7 putty-nosed guenons, 3 mona guenons, 2 red-eared guenons, and 1 red-capped mangabey.  We have also had 7 successful births in our red-capped mangabey pre-release group, contributing towards the conservation of this species.


‘Holly’, one of  the mona monkeys rescued by CERCOPAN in 2009

For the support we received this year we would like to thank

Andrew H, Anna C, Antonio C, Bethany G, Boccagna E, Bryony A, Cathy R, Carl B, Carol Z, Cynthia G, Deborah C, Elizabeth Y, Erik H, Erin E, Harry V, Hope O, Ji-in L, Julie T, Katherine M, Karen L, Karen M, Linda H, Ludovic L, Maciej G, Mark H, Mary H, Megan H, Mr G, Phillip R, Pirjo I,P L, Rebecca B, Robin C, Rupa B, Samantha E, Sara P, Sherri S and Tonia W.

Special thanks for their continued support throughout this year go to:

Brenton H

Brigitta S

Christine C

James M

Jennifer S

Kathy S

Kevin C

Kristine K

Wanda H

CERCONEWS January edition out now!

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


Thank you for your support and Happy New Year!

First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to all of our readers who donated over the Christmas period; Christine C, Kevin C, Hope O, Cathy R, Karen L and Brenton H. As always, your support is much appreciated, by the staff, volunteers and the monkeys your donations are used directly to help.  I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas.


Rudoph the Red Eared Guenon

The end of the year is always a time for reflection, and as 2009 draws to a close, I am of course reminded of the difficult times we experienced this year and how close we actually came to losing our premises as a result of the financial crisis. With that in mind, I would once again like to thank all of our readers and the staff at Wildlife Direct for their unwaivering support during those particulary tough months, without your help, 2009 may have ended on a much bleaker note. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my CERCOPAN family; the wonderful staff and volunteers at CERCOPAN, all of whom worked tirelessly to keep things running and raise funds, who gave up days off, worked long into the night every evening and were always there to lift my spirits and make me smile. I could not ask for a better team.

It is with hope and positivity we look to the New Year and it is already promising to be a monumetal year in the history of our orgnisation and the vital work we undertake. In 2010, we are set to expand our tourism and community programmes, perform a second release of rehabilitated mona monkeys, increase protection of our research area, complete the construction of the Iko Esai Community and Tourist centre and most important of all, begin construction of our new HQ at the 11 hectare wooded site donated by the University of Calabar. I hope you all continue to follow our progress here at Wildlife Direct and will celebrate these advances side by side with us.

I wish you all the very best for the New Year from everyone here!

And once again, Thankyou.



CERCOPAN staff Christmas party

One more endangered baby monkey rescued in time for Christmas

A few days ago, not long after settling our new Managabey into his enclosure at CERCOPAN HQ, we received a phone call from one of our security staff informing us that an endangered baby red-eared guenon was being kept as a pet at a bar.  Our primate care staff immediately dropped everything and got ready to go with the Director, Claire, for a rescue attempt.  With one of our trucks out of action and the other at our forest site, getting there and back would be a problem.  Normally staff would travel on an okada; a bike taxi that can usually be seen weaving between vehicles and passer-bys.  These bike taxis have just been banned within Calabar City centre and this has made a huge impact on our work and daily operations, seriously inhibiting rescue investigations and adding considerable costs to monkey food and construction/maintenance materials.  Taxis have been introduced, but at the moment there are very few in operation and so Claire and the staff were forced to stand at the top of the road and hail a passing vehicle and offered the driver money to take them to get the monkey.


Red ear upon arrival at CERCOPAN

The Red Ear was in a very rough area of town and as Claire, Matthew, Abraham and Joshua walked through the dusty streets carrying the travelling box, a noisy crowd began following behind them. They arrived at the bar to find a small red-eared guenon, about a year old, dangling spider-like on a rope tied to the ceiling. The monkey was able to climb up and down the rope and sit in the rafters, but unfortunately was unable to reach the floor and so was just hanging there, several inches from the ground blocking the entrance of the bar. The Staff quickly identified and approached the owner, whilst Claire went to check the monkeys health and comfort him. It soon transpired that the bar owner had bought the monkey that morning and as a result he was very angry at the thought of giving the animal to CERCOPAN unless we planned to compensate him for his loss of money. CERCOPAN never gives money for a monkey as it encourages the idea that it is a profitable market and may result in people taking more monkeys to deliberately try to sell them to the organisation.  Tension began rising and the bystanders started shouting a CERCOPAN staff, exclaiming that if Claire had not been there they would have ‘beaten’ them. Eventually, Claire and the staff managed to calm the crowd and it was agreed that we would go together to visit the dealer who sold the man the monkey earlier that day.


Baby red ear being comforted by Claire

Some of the more vocal members of the crowd from the bar piled into one vehicle while our staff climbed back into the vehicle they had commandeered, with the driver now clearly wondering how he had managed to get himself into this situation. After a few minutes they arrived at the dealers compound and tense negotiations once again began in earnest. Once the dealer handed over the money he had received that morning the bar owner and his friends left, however, this compound itself had it’s own lively and not too gracious pack who were not happy about the idea of an uncompensated removal of this red-ear monkey.  Claire, practiced at these types of negotiations, remained composed and friendly despite being yelled at by the crowd. She eventually managed to separate and calm some of the most vocal individuals, whilst the staff continued to concentrate on the dealer. After three hours of explaining to all that keeping monkeys as pets in Nigeria is against the law and how a monkey does not make a good pet, the dealer finally took Claire to one side and asked her to send someone back for the animal an hour later when the crowd had dispersed.

It turned out the dealer had been very fond of this little red-ear monkey and had actually treated him very well in comparison to many other cases we have seen.  We feel very lucky to have rescued him at that time as the conditions he was found in at the bar would have made him very sick very quickly.  He is especially friendly and seems to have been trained to lie back very baby-like, enjoying nothing more than a good belly rub.  He loves to take huge leaps between furniture and especially loves jumping on a human from a great distance then leaping straight back off again.  This playful, inquisitive nature has also resulted in many books, cups, pens, and anything else available being carried across the room – not too carefully I may add! Now in quarantine, he has undergone his first TB test and after 14 weeks will be moved in with 2 other red-ear guenons (Mickey and Jerry) that are of a similar age.


The new baby red ear having his belly rubbed

The two new additions bring us to a grand total of 158 monkeys now in our care, and with prices increasing for Christmas and the transport issues also adding additional costs, we are once again feeling the strain. Your donations and support really are so important and enable us to continue to provide the best possible care for every single monkey that needs our help. You can also give your support by purchasing a CERCOPAN gift or monkey adoption for your friends and family this Christmas.  Please visit our shop today at


Endangered Red Capped Mangabey rescued from appalling conditions

We were very pleased here at CERCOPAN to observe some positive responses to our education outreach program last week when, shortly after our Education Officer conducted an environmental education lesson, he received a call from one of the students who had seen a monkey being kept as a pet.  The school was new to our outreach program and this was the first time any student had received a lesson of this kind. The boy was extremely keen for us to rescue the monkey with all he had been taught about the problems keeping them as pets.  It can be hard to assess which tactics of CERCOPAN’s multi-dimensional approach make the most difference to our conservation cause, but this clearly showed that some of the messages in our educational outreach programme were being taken on board and changing attitudes.


The new Mangabey is very thin and malnourished and has bald patches all over his fur

Although the village was relatively close to our forest site, it was still quite a distance from our Calabar rehabilitation centre. Abakum, our Education Officer, initially travelled to the village on public transport to investigate the situation and plan the confiscation. He met our forest site Community Liaison and Education Officer there and the pair began searching for the monkey while calling the student who had given the information.  Sadly they discovered the student had travelled out of the village due to an emergency and, although he had hoped to get back in time, the afternoon quickly passed and our staff were forced to return home without any further information.

Determined to rescue this suffering indivudal, Abakum returned on his day off while visiting family close by as he hoped to at least gather some information on the whereabouts of the individual.  He finally located the house, with the help of the student, but the family had gone away to farm for a few days.  Frustrated yet again at not returning with the monkey, Abakum spoke to neighbours on the best time to catch the family at home and began planning a return.  It was on this trip that he discovered the monkey was a small mangabey who was kept outside on a harness when the family were at home and brought inside the house when the family was farming.  At least now we knew what we were expecting to bring home when we eventually did get a chance to talk to the family.


The new mangabey enjoying his new surroundings

Finally we had a successful trip when Abakum and Austin (our Vet Nurse) managed to meet the family at their home and negotiate the release of the monkey in to our care.  The mangabey was being kept in a room full of smoke where the family were processing cassava into the local food item garri, and our staff were particularly worried about how this would be affecting his health.

Eventually we secured the mangabey and he travelled back to our headquarters where he could be given the best possible care. Upon arrival he was examined, but it has been very difficult to determine his age as clearly malnourishment has severely stunted his growth.  There was not a dry eye amongst the bystanders watching when we released him into his new enclosure and he readily tucked into his food as though he had not eaten for days. Since arriving at CERCOPAN though his gentle nature is shining through; enjoying nothing more than a bowl of milk and a good groom from keepers, he is intrigued by all the other primates around. He is already a favourite amongst the staff and volunteers and I am sure he will be equally popular with others of his kind once he has passed his tests and can be introduced into a group.


 Our new friend tucking into some papaya

Jungle Adventure part 2

The third day was supposed to be the last and we looked forward to a shower and a tastier meal, but a lot of surprises and events were waiting for us in the hours that followed.   We left early, carrying our loads, which were thankfully lighter than the first day.  My shoes were dry from the fire, but this became irrelevant after the first river we had to cross.  The rain had stopped in the morning though and the level of streams and rivers had decreased substantially.

Exactly like the day before, the nice, easy trail didn’t last and we soon had to short-cut some hill slopes and dense areas.  After about 2 hours of trek, the only wildlife tracks we had found were red river hogs footprints, although they were in very large quantities. We had passed several hills rich in Coula edulis, also known as Gabon nut, a tree that produces fruits appreciated by chimpanzees, confirmed by Osam’s anecdotes about chimpanzees killed in this area around 5 years ago.

We had travelled through the major hills and the topography had become smoother when we heard branches shaking.  We stopped, unloaded our bags, and approached quietly.  There were monkeys around, but it was difficult to estimate the number or to see them particularly well.  We could clearly see red-eared monkeys, probably because they travel under the canopy making them easier to observe.  The monkeys were moving from North to South and it seemed they had not seen us.

Soon after this sighting the path disappeared again.  We looked for it a while but decided to give up and go back to Agbor Iyamba.  As soon as we made this decision, Osam recognized a bushmango tree where he had met 2 people in the past when he was hunting, and while he was lost on an elephant trail. We found the trail close to the tree and we followed it.  A few minutes later, branch movements and shaking attracted our attention.  Monkeys were to our right side and we could see fast movements in the trees but we couldn’t distinguish them.  It seemed that they finally detected us, as three powerful threat booms were followed by a series of hack calls, making us realize we were in the presence of mona monkeys.  Immediately after the adult male mona calls, putty-nosed piows, another type of alarm/threat loud call, came from the same location.  There were mona AND putty-nosed monkeys, close by the red-eared monkeys we had seen before.  All were moving to the South, just like our trail. We stayed quiet and followed our track for a few minutes until we stopped again.


Putty nosed guenon

A strange unfamiliar sound, like scratching, was produced close to us.  Osam, reproducing his ex-hunting strategies, took off his sandals, crouched slightly, and approached where the sound was being emitted.  I stayed behind so as to not scare whatever it was, and waited in anticipation.  After a few minutes, the sound had stopped and Osam came back to me, illuminated by a large smile.  “Mangabey ! Red-capped mangabey, just like the ones we have in camp!” he said.  His description was precise enough to put out any doubt in my mind.  Osam had approached the sound and saw a large monkey on a branch, very close to the ground. The animal didn’t see Osam and he approached while the monkey was scratching at a big fruit.  Osam saw the grey/black back, and the tail with the white tip.  Then the monkey suddenly turned himself in the direction of Osam, saw him, and ran away.  Then Osam had clearly seen the white belly, the chestnut colored head, and the prominent black muzzle before the monkey could flee.


Red capped Mangabey       

We continued and arrived at a location where a shed had previously existed before being destroyed as it was too close to the Cross River National Park.  Here we were just on the boundary of the park.  We took a quick, well deserved rest and then carried on our walk.  Only 5 minutes after we left, familiar contact calls made us stop.  We could very clearly see mona monkeys foraging in the lower canopy.  There were movements on the ground too, and more monkeys higher in the trees.  Red-eared monkeys could be seen and it looked like the same mixed-group as before.  We had all advanced in the same direction and location.  Another red-capped mangabey was seen at that point but, even with so many eyes to see us, it still took some minutes before the monkeys detected our presence.  Then they all moved away, creating a lot of confusion in the trees and in our minds, while we tried to work out what species went where and how many of each there were.  In this situation, it is difficult to spot all the monkeys, and usually it is good to concentrate in one area.  Most of the monkeys were fleeing to the South, but some scattered in others directions.  I could spot the monas at 60 or 70m in front of me, about 30m high.  They passed one by one along a branch that I could see clearly through the vegetation, counting  11 of them.  All these sightings were extremely exciting, but it had delayed our progress a lot and now it was close to noon and we were still very far from camp.

As soon as we couldn’t see monkeys anymore, we continued on the journey and the rain started.  Not a light rain, but a strong shower worthy of any visions we have of the wet season.  Soaked in a few minutes, we walked for an hour before reaching a shed.  Unfortunately, this shed was only a shadow of its former self- no roof; no shelter for us.  Just the time to take a GPS point, which was a good 15min in this weather, and then we were back to walking.  The trail was easy to follow until we took a fork to the North.  This trail was mainly grown over so we had to cut our way through, which took a long time. We finally arrived to Ebin Iyura, a shed used for logging activities before logging was banned by the state. Logging sheds have a floor made of planks, whereas hunting sheds are much more rustic.  It was 3.30pm and we were about 5 hours from camp.  Again, each halt was short as the lack of time was praying on our minds.  The next trail fortunately was well maintained and we reached Rhoko river around 5pm without difficulties, except for the rain that was still pouring down.

Rhoko river is usually large, but what was in front of us looked like something else.  Maybe 25m wide and brown with earth, it ran extremely rapidly forming whirlpools in places, and carrying huge branches downstream.  Because of the darkness of the water, we couldn’t figure out how deep it was and where the “normal” bank should be.  We planted a stick on the edge to work out if the level was decreasing or still growing, and waited.

The rain had stopped and the Rhoko river was decreasing, but slowly. Too slowly.  Rhoko, as the major river on this side of the forest, had received the water from many adjacent streams, and was not forming an insurmountable natural barrier.  There was a shed on the other side of the river, called Ocambay, and we were only 30m from it, but blocked by these natural elements.  Night was falling.  Osam knew of another long abandoned shed on our side of Rhoko and we decided to verify the state of it. Unfortunately, we had to pass yet another stream that turned out to not even be running because it was too close to Rhoko, but instead had reached a stationary level over 2m.  Despite that, Osam could cross this stagnating, brown and forbidding water.  He crossed by a fallen tree still raised just above the water.  I waited on the other side until Osam came back, announcing there was no shed anymore.  Then we headed back to the edge of the river Rhoko.

The only solution was patience.  We set our wet camping mats on the ground, took off our wet clothes and tried to rest.  Osam fell asleep quickly but there was no way for me.  The ground was sloppy and I continually slid down slowly, finding myself off the mat.  The darkness and the night fell while the entire forest dripped water, even after the rain had stopped.  Consequently, between water drops, the cold, and the slope, I barely could find any sleep.


Sleeping next to the Rhoko River

Finally, at 2.00am, when Osam and I were too cold to rest any longer, luckily, the water had seriously decreased.  We could see the bottom of the river, which was still very powerful.  We figured out that the river was more than 2m high when we had first arrived, but now was only 1m.  Osam used my head-light, while I used my mobile phone for light, and we had to walk along a flooded tree trunk for 15m up the river and then fork onto a fallen tree trunk to reach the other side. Osam was standing without any problem on the trunks, while I had to crouch to avoid the heaviness of my load from carrying  me into the water.  Eventually we made it but it had taken us a good 30minutes to cross!

We stayed in Ocambay shed for the rest of the night.  A hot meal and warming fire in the shelter gave us so much relief.  We left in the morning and made it back to camp within 3 hours, exhausted but happy to conclude this weekend’s adventure.