Tag Archives: West Africa

And they call it…Putty Love

Felicia and Wizkid hugging

As you may remember, two small putty-nosed monkeys called Felicia and Wizkid were brought to CERCOPAN last December. One of them, Felicia, had been formerly abused by factory workers and was not using one of her back legs properly. Everyone at CERCOPAN was very concerned about the small monkey, as we were afraid that the leg might be paralysed. We took Felicia for an X-Ray to find out what was wrong, but to our surprise, nothing unusual was evident.


Initially, Wizkid would carry his new friend around in their enclosure, since she was not using her leg properly. Austin, our vet nurse, also took great care of Felicia, giving her leg massages and antibiotics. Over the weeks, her leg gradually improved and she began to move independently. Felicia now walks so well, it’s hard to imagine the condition her leg was in when she was brought to us! Whilst we are still not sure what rendered her leg unusable,  we are all very relieved that everything worked out well and are sure that her recovery was due in no small part to Austin’s efforts and the support of her best friend.

Wizkid no longer needs to carry Felicia around, but the pair still spend most of their time clasped together, hugging. Once they are old enough to be moved to a family group, we will ensure that they remain together. Felicia is still a little more reserved than Wizkid, who as you can see likes to put his face as close to the camera as possible, but with time we are sure he will bring her out of her shell.



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.

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!

Jo tree platform small.JPG

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.

Usor with Sherilltree equipment.JPG

Usor wearing equipment donated by Sherrilltree