Tag Archives: Conservation

My first weeks at CERCOPAN

 

Kim Nouwen in the forest

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

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

Kim with CERCOPAN staff

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

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

Compassionate about Conservation

Since CERCOPAN started to rescue Nigerian monkeys in 1995, the welfare and well-being of the orphans has been our ultimate priority. Over the years, as the project grew, primate conservation and forest protection became obvious objectives, leading to the formation of a partnership in 2000 with Iko Esai community to conserve their community forest and reintroduce rehabilitated primates there. These two main facets of our work, Welfare and Conservation were at the heart of the Compassionate Conservation International Symposium organized in Oxford at the beginning of September. CERCOPAN representatives Sylvain Lemoine (Research Coordinator) and Zena Tooze (CERCOPAN founder) attended the symposium to present the results of our first reintroduction of Mona monkeys and to discuss its benefits and consequences for the welfare of guenon Cercopithecine species.

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Sylvain and Zena at the Compassionate Conservation Symposium

The main objective of the Symposium was to bring together conservation and welfare science which although naturally interconnected, have tended to be entirely discrete due to welfare’s focus on the individual, and conservation’s focus on populations. The Compassionate Conservation approach states that “the well-being of individual animals should be considered when making conservation decisions”. This philosophy is very much in line with CERCOPAN’s vision and it is very apparent to our staff that all of our monkeys are different and that they each respond differently. Whilst this seems obvious when considering primates, which are thought intuitively to be ‘more conscious’ than other animals, it also appears to be true for many other species of animals, from the simplest to more complicated.

For two days, researchers, conservationists and specialists in welfare science presented their various projects at the Symposium and discussed ethical issues arising from making conservation decisions. A common point of view was that no animal should suffer under any circumstances, and that the well being of individuals should always be a key consideration in any conservation research project. The idea of a compassionate conservation will hopefully show that science can be used to serve individual animals and that empathy and sympathy can go hand in hand with biological science.

We are very grateful to AAP for providing the necessary funding to our team to attend this conference.

www.compassionateconservation.org

www.aap.org

Spidermen in Rhoko!

Within the last month, Joe Brophy, a professional tree climber volunteering in Rhoko site, has trained one of CERCOPAN research assistant, Usor Arong, in climbing techniques.

Usor, who is from Iko Esai community and previously was a NTFP gatherer, is familiar with climbing trees but in a very traditional manner, escalading large climbers to access to upper branches in order to collect “Afang”, a local leaf used in many Nigerian recipes. Usor actually broke his leg few years ago from a fall after an unfortunate encounter with a snake at the top of a tree!

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Jo entering the tree platform

The techniques taught by Joe are quite different and safer, using ropes to access the various levels of any tree. But how to install a rope 30 metres high from the ground without taking any risk? This is where “Robin Hood” skills intervene. We are using a huge bow to send an arrow attached to a string above a large branch, then we just have to set a rope at the extremity of the string, pull the string until the rope passes over the branch, and fix the rope to a tree at the bottom.

Usor really enjoyed the bow but then lost a bit of his courage when he found himself for the first time sitting on a harness swinging on the rope 20 meters above the ground. Nevertheless, Usor managed to climb very well even on the first occasion. Several climbing sessions were then organized where Usor became more and more confident in this exercise. The most exciting moment for Usor was the ascent of the “tree-platform”, a metallic circular walkway installed 30 meters high around a massive tree trunk. The platform is one of the most popular attractions at Rhoko and gives a splendid view of the forest. Only a few indigenes of Iko Esai have ascended the tree to the platform and Usor was really proud of his performance.Jo + Usor climbing.JPG

Jo training Usor to Climb

Entertainment and fantastic views are not the only reason for climbing trees in Rhoko, the practice also allows the researchers to collect fruits, flowers and leaf samples from the canopy, as part of the long-term phenology study undertaken being undertaken in the Core Area.

Progress of the research and acquirement of new skills for our local staff is the perfect combination to fulfill CERCOPAN mission and to enhance our relationship with the surrounding communities. A big thank you to Joe for bringing his skills and enthusiasm to Rhoko and to Sherrilltree company for donating vital equipment.

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Usor wearing equipment donated by Sherrilltree

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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

http://www.cercopan.org/support

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.

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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.

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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.

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 Our new friend tucking into some papaya

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!

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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.

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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!

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!

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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!

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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.

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.

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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!