Tag Archives: threatened species

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!

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!

Thanks Jan for helping baby otter Eve!

I would like to express my appreciation to Jan for her donation to help rehabilitate our now famous baby clawless Otter ‘Eve’. Jan is an Otter expert and has been advising us on Eve’s care since her first days at CERCOPAN. As primate specialists, we are new to raising otters, so all of the advice from Jan and other otter experts has been invaluable. We are hoping to try to move Eve on to fish soon which here in Calabar is very costly, so these funds will really help.

Thanks again for everything Jan



Baby clawless otter Eve exploring her new home


Eve resting and being quiet for once! 

CERCOPAN’s Cute Endangered Baby Otter Update

As anybody who works with animals will say, rehabilitating orphaned babies of any species comes with its risks. Trying to raise a baby who has been separated from its mother in an unnatural environment will inevitably be a difficult task, particularly when not much is known about the species. Two weeks in to our newest member’s arrival here at CERCOPAN we were reminded first hand just how delicate a young orphan can be.

After an extremely successful first week with the orphan she suddenly came down with an overwhelming lethargy just a few days ago. Having spent so much time with her, within just a few hours of noticing subtle changes in her behaviour we knew something was wrong and enlisted the help of a number of vets from across the globe in helping to diagnose the problem. After a few hours of careful discussion it became clear that the new milk we had recently started the baby on wasn’t being metabolised correctly by her body. The specialised milk was extremely high in fat and her little body couldn’t handle it and so wasn’t taking in any of the essential nutrients she needed. It was decided to begin treating the baby with an oral fluid therapy to keep her well hydrated and to switch her back immediately to the soy infant milk she had been taking before and to ensure she got plenty of rest. We watched and waited overnight desperately willing her to make it through the crucial first 12 hours and to our amazement she woke up the following day markedly improved. From that point on she has continued to gradually improve becoming more and more active and alert every day.

We have worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure she gets all of the milk, fluids and rest she needs to continue getting better. Whilst she is not quite out of the woods yet, we are delighted with the progress she has made over the past few days, she has proved herself to be a little fighter. She still experiences periods of increased lethargy but these are now interspersed with prolonged play sessions and a very healthy appetite and we are confident she will continue to go from strength to strength over the next few days.

We would like to thank everybody who has assisted us in diagnosing the otter over the past few days. The advice we have been given has been invaluable and we are almost certain she would not be here had we not received such help from Grace and the IOSF, Spanish vet Ainare, Vet Wendy Simpson in the States and Peter from Pandrullus here in Nigeria.

We will keep you updated on her progress and are also delighted to announce that she is officially named, “Eve”.  It is thought that the ancient Kindgom of Calabar was the original “Garden of Eden” because of its green and lush environment.  As such, we thought the name, Eve was fitting for this unique and strong willed little otter!



CERCOPAN takes in a baby clawless otter!

On 27th June a tiny baby otter was brought into CERCOPAN after her mother was shot by fisherman in Bakasi. We think she is approximately 50 days old are are hoping to rehabiitate and release her back into Rhoko, our bush site. Immediately after she was brought in, CERCOPAN staff contacted the International Otter Survival fund in the UK who have not only provided advice on rearing the young cub, but have also offered to send special milk and vitamins out to Nigeria for her to get us started. We are also receiving advice from Helene Jacques an expert on African otters. A big thank you to them for all of their help. We are not entirely sure yet whether she is a Cape Clawless otter, a Congo Clawless otter or an intermediate between the two and to be certain we will need to wait until she is a little older and her markings become more pronounced.  Either way these otters are very rare in captivity and very little is known about them so we are recording as much information as possible. Keep checking back for photos and updates on her progress over the coming weeks.







New arrival!

All here at Cercopan are delighted to announce some wonderful news: one of our resident Mangabeys, Mercy, has given birth to healthy baby infant! The new arrival, who’s sex is yet to be determined, was born during the early hours of Wednesday 10th June without any complications and has been progressing well since. Mercy has proven herself to be a very watchful and attentive parent, as has the baby’s father, Callistus, who is being duly protective. We are all exceptionally pleased with how well the baby has been integrated into the group so far. Brother, Marley, has been seen grooming the child as has the unrelated Mangabey, Peace, who is also due to give birth any day. We will be keeping a watchful eye on this special new arrival to ensure it continues to progress so well and eagerly anticipate the birth of Peace’s infant within the next few days. We have posted a few pictures of the baby Mangabey below but keep checking the blog for further pictures and updates!

baby-and-mercy-head-small.JPG mercy-and-baby-looking-at-camera-small.JPG 

A Personal Account Of This Year’s World Environment Day

Story by: Daniella Mancini
Pictures by: Sam Trull

It’s approaching dawn on Friday 5th June and my mind floats peacefully through a dream filled sea. Thoughts of the past few forest trekking, monkey feeding, bush researching days filled my mind as I lulled gently further into a restful sleep. Suddenly, amidst the bananas and mangabeys that have thus invaded my subconscious, the dulcet tune of Mozart’s 5th Symphony begins to resonate through the trees. That’s strange. I’m used to the sweet ticking of crickets and the mild hum of sand flies; I didn’t know there was a natural classical overtone in the wild too; my dreams must be playing tricks on me. The tune gets louder and louder and within just a few minutes the sound is inescapable….damn. It’s my alarm. I forgot. It’s 5am and time to drag my weary head out of bed to travel to Calabar for World Environment Day. This had better be worth it.

I should introduce myself for this all to make sense. My name is Daniella and I am a 19 year old British student staying here in Nigeria for two months as a volunteer for Cercopan. As someone who’s never been involved in conservation work before, I was advised by Rhoko’s manager, Richard, that World Environment Day would be a fantastic way to go and see firsthand just what conservation really means to the Nigerian people, particularly the Nigerian youth, of today. Eager to find out how Cercopan’s work reaches out to society, I was thrilled to accept the invitation. If only we didn’t have to leave so early. Like I said, I really hope this is worth it.

Three hours pass and before I know it we arrive at the cultural centre in Calabar where the day’s events were to take place. Still rather bleary eyed, I stumble out of the truck into a giant car park where, before I could even say ‘environmental awareness’, my tiredness was knocked out of me with the quickest of blows. Out in front of the truck was wave after wave of colour, hoards of children had grouped en masse dressed in the most fantastically imaginative costumes ready for a parade. The rhythmic pulse of a drum beat echoed around us and children danced like they had no other purpose in the world but to dance. They danced as though the rhythm of the drum had taken over their very soul, a dance that came from deep within and told the most extraordinary story. Culture, history and pride entwined and mingled into one unified expression, it was a breathtaking scene.

Girl dancing at carnival

Then the carnival began. Line after line of dancing troupes paraded around the streets of Calabar waving banners promoting the plight of Cercopan and the importance of being environmentally aware. The streets came to an absolute standstill as the masses of eager school children rhythmically processed around town. Above the drum of the instruments, poignant chants and messages could be heard. The air was electric, the atmosphere engulfing. You couldn’t help but be sucked into the excitement of it all. Heck, I even had a little dance and a chant myself. The procession lasted for the best part of an hour under the relentless heat of the Nigerian afternoon sun yet not even that could dampen the spirit of these passionate youths. As the sun rose higher, the children merely danced and cheered harder stopping only for a quick “snap, please” and then dancing off as I fumbled around rather pathetically with my camera. The whole parade really was the most exhilarating of scenes.

school performance

When the parade had ended we returned to the cultural centre where the children were to march back into the car park group by group and give a final performance in front of a panel of judges. I then realised that the schools were competing for the coveted, “Best in carnival” prize. One by one the schools marched back into the car park putting on theatrical and sometimes very traditional shows, body popping their way to the finish line and their reward – a much needed drink of water. Never in my life have I seen such impassioned young people, the sheer pride they had at representing their school was nothing short of inspirational and I was left in awe at their absolute determination. Coming second place was not an option; they were in it for the win. But more than that, these children were proud to be a part of World Environment Day. They were proud to spread the word of something they clearly felt was massively important. And it worked. The general public came out en masse to see what the parade was about and as such, Cercopan were able to deliver hundreds of information leaflets to those who may otherwise have been unreachable.

Signs with a message

After a small break the children were ushered into a large hall where a panel of Nigerian high rankers in the environmentalist world gave speeches educating the young people even further on the topic of environmental conservation. The children sat through each speech intently, understanding the absolute importance of, not only being educated in the importance of wildlife preservation themselves, but relaying that information to their elders and neighbours back home. It seemed Cercopan truly was spreading its conservational branches right into the very heart of society in the hope that this generation will be the catalyst of sustained change and development for the future.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more electrifying, Cercopan’s Acting Operations Manager, Jerry Akparawa announced it was time to declare the winners of the prizes: Best banner, Cleanest school and, the highly anticipated, Best in Carnival. Whilst I’m normally a bit of a sceptic on such things (a cynic, I’ve found, is a very British thing to be) there was no doubt in my mind that the awards Jerry had organised were perhaps what enthralled the children most. Even if I had tried I couldn’t have anticipated the reception the awards ceremony would achieve. Counting down in the normal fashion from 3rd to 1st, a number of awardees handed out the prizes, each time arousing the most fantastically euphoric roar of joy from the winning participants. As each winning school was announced the entire hall would erupt into a frenzy, the children jumped up and danced, the runners up offering equally hearty congratulatory cheers and dances in return. It was the most incredible sight. I realised at that moment that, so long as Cercopan and other conservation charities continue to target young people, there will be long and sustained change in the future. The young people I met during World Environment Day left me in no doubt that the mindfully active young Nigerians of today are receptive and ready to make changes and it is for this reason that the work Cercopan is doing with them right now, is undeniably essential.

girl reading cercopan brochure

Special mention absolutely must go to Cercopan’s Acting Operations Manager, Jerry Akparawa. The sheer scale of event he achieved this year on such a low budget was astounding and the impact that it will have made is colossal. Whilst events like World Environment Day must, I’m sure, be impossibly difficult to organise, he achieved an indisputable success. One which I’m sure will be the first stepping stone on a long journey of change for the young Nigerians of today.
Jerry dancing at carnival
So, after all my moaning in the morning, was it worth it? More than anything I’ve ever been involved in before. I was touched, moved, inspired and overwhelmed by what I saw on World Environment Day, not least at the thought that such a small charity as Cercopan could have achieved such giant things. Whilst it is true that no man can move an island, it also remains that when a group of people think big despite all the odds, the outcome can be more than anyone would have ever dreamed possible. It struck me on World Environment day that, if Cercopan did not exist, environmental conservation education in Cross River State would be drastically different.

It leaves me with nothing other than to say that World Environment Day was an incredulous success. The more charities like Cercopan reach out to the very core of communities as was done during this event, the more likely things are to change. If any potential volunteer is wondering whether to come out to Calabar and do some work with Cercopan I can’t encourage you enough. The work that this charity does is invaluable and, particularly after seeing Cercopan’s might in full force on World Environment Day, I am proud to be here now myself.

girls in costume

Another big thank you !

We would all like to say another huge thank you to Wanda for her kind donation to Cercopan in May. As always, your donation was greatly appreciated and has been put towards helping to feed and care for all of our monkeys including our newest edition, a baby orphaned putty. We have posted a picture of our new baby putty (who is yet to be named) below. More information and pictures to come about our special new arrival so keep checking for updates!

New baby orphaned female putty

New Office and Finance Manager at CERCOPAN

After fourteen great months, our Office and Finance Manager Kristine Krynitzki has decided to leave CERCOPAN and set off for pastures new. Although extremely sad to see Kris go, we wish her every luck as she begins the next chapter of her career, with plans of returning to university to begin studying environmental law in her home country, Canada.

The task of finding a replacement for such a valued member of staff has been a long and difficult process; however we are pleased to announce the appointment of our brand new Office and Finance manager, Sam Trull.

Sam, aged 28, has already had a long and established career within the field of primate conservation. With over twelve years of experience under her belt and an overwhelming passion for the cause, Sam was the perfect candidate for the job. Beginning work aged 16 at The Duke Lemur Centre in North Carolina, she progressed to the post of Primate Technician and Enrichment Co-ordinator while finishing her undergraduate study of Zoology and Anthropology in her home state. Wishing to advance from this point, more specifically as a primatologist, Sam began a post grad study in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes the following year.

Academic accomplishments aside, Sam has also participated in field research prior to arriving at CERCOPAN. Her first experience was in the Bahamas working on a team studying the Bahama parrot during March 2007. Sam then went on to carry out a pilot study surveying for aye-ayes in Betampona Reserve in Madagascar just 6 months later in the fall of 2007.

According to Sam, working for CERCOPAN is the next step in her career as a primate conservationist and she is delighted to have been given the opportunity,

“I’m thrilled to be working with an in-situ conservation project like CERCOPAN. I think the combination of primate rehabilitation, community education, research and forest preservation is a great multi-faceted approach to addressing conservation issues in Nigeria.”

Sam is due to stay at CERCOPAN for a year and, just three weeks into her stay, is already well on the way to being a fully trained CERCOPAN Office and Finance Manager. We wish both Kris and Sam lots of luck for the future.

Sam with new orphaned baby putty

Urgently required Volunteer and Ecotourism Coordinator

CERCOPAN (Centre for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature: www.cercopan.org) is recruiting for a Volunteer and Ecotourism Coordinator to start in May /June 2009. This voluntary position is based at Rhoko, our bush site where we help the Iko Esai community to protect 2400ha of tropical rainforest. The site is home to 60 semi-free ranging forest monkeys, and an array of wildlife including pangolins, wild putty nosed guenons, Mona monkeys, bushbabies, duikers, golden cats and drills.

We are looking for a flexible, sociable, team-player with previous experience managing volunteers. The ideal candidate will be a people person, good at multi-tasking with strong leadership and communication skills. They must also have the ability to cope well under stress and live happily in basic but comfortable forest living conditions.

Duties include:

– Supervising all volunteers and visitors (meet and greet, preparing itineraries, menus, arranging logistics, supervising projects\research tasks, ensuring appropriate staff available, acting as point of contact etc.)

– Financial management of volunteer/tourism budget

– Training/ capacity building for staff involved in tourism (e.g. preparation of meals and accommodation, guided walk training, management of the community centre visitor centre by community members etc.)

– Preparing proposals for eco-tourism development

– Developing and implementing a national advertising strategy for tourism at Rhoko

– Ensuring all volunteer and tourism materials are constantly updated

– Tourism/ Volunteering related PR   

– Undertaking research, collecting data and assisting with camp management when cover is required.



– Experience managing volunteers

– First Aid certificate or equivalent experience

– University educated, first degree

– Interest in Conservation/Primates

– Physically fit

– Good communication skills

– 4 wheel driving experience (or willingness to take four wheel driving course in UK)


– Work experience in conservation

– Work experience with NGO                     

– Research experience

– Climbing (tree) experience

– Swimming/life saving skills

– Masters in conservation, biology, ecology, zoology, tourism

Provisions: Room and board will be provided for an initial 1 year contract. All flights, visa arrangements, insurance etc. are the responsibility of the volunteer.

Please send covering letter, references (preferably email contact) and CV to [email protected]

For further information, please see the CERCOPAN website www.cercopan.org and blog http://cercopan.wildlifedirect.org/