Tv Documentary to showcase CERCOPAN’s work

Richard Mundy : June 4, 2013 11:30 pm : CERCONEWS

This month, CERCOPAN welcomed Feisal Malik, the Director of Visual Africa Productions in Kenya. Feisal was commissioned by a Nigerian broadcaster to produce a documentary on the country’s biodiversity. He decided to use our organisation as a case study to highlight both the unique natural resources in Nigeria and the ongoing urgent conservation efforts to save them. Titled ‘Going Green in Nigeria’, the 53-minute documentary produced will be aired throughout the African continent.

In Calabar, Feisal and his team interviewed the CERCOPAN staff on the many threats facing primates in Nigeria. Director Nicky then spoke about CERCOPAN’s long-term commitment to save Cross River State’s biodiversity through an integrated approach. The film crew were able to capture some excellent footage of school visits and other daily activities associated with running a primate rehabilitation centre. They also interviewed Dr. Odigha Odigha, Chairman of the Cross River State Forestry Commission, and Board Member,  Arikpo Arikpo. In the Botanical Garden of Calabar, the Forestry Commission members explained the challenges facing biodiversity in Nigeria and Cross River State, and the work of the Nigerian Government to battle these challenges, often in partnership with NGOs such as CERCOPAN.

Feisal and his team went on to visit Rhoko rainforest , where they shadowed CERCOPAN staff to gain an understanding of our different programmes – forest conservation, primate rehabilitation, community- based conservation and research. In Iko Esai, Mike Ekpe gave a lesson in the secondary school, and the conservation club explained their activities to highlight conservation in the larger community. The Surveillance Team, set up and trained by CERCOPAN, demonstrated their work in community-led enforcement of local conservation bylaws. Finally, the Chiefs Council explained how they first became involved with conservation  through the partnership with CERCOPAN, and how it is now a concept embraced by the entire community.

We  look forward to the broadcast of this documentary and applaud Fiesal and his team for highlighting the importance of conservation activities in Nigeria.







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New Protected Area Manager receives warm welcome in Rhoko

Nicolien Schoneveld : May 5, 2013 6:23 am : CERCONEWS

Our new Protected Area Manager, Richard Mundy, travelled to Rhoko in early April where he will be stationed to run our forest conservation activities.  Nicky formally presented Richard to the Iko Esai Chiefs’ Council in the house of Clan Head, Chief Etan. Richard explained to all those present that he was very pleased to be in Nigeria and excited to take on the new position in Rhoko camp. He spoke about his love for the forest and how impressed he was with the commitment of Iko Esai to conserve both forests and wildlife. Chief Etan concluded the rounds of speeches from all attendees by officially welcoming Richard to the community and telling him they are delighted that he has chosen to help order tramadol us pharmacy them protect their community forest.  As with all celebrations in Iko Esai, the speeches were followed by a several rounds of Kai Kai (distilled palm wine) shots.

The Rhoko staff were equally happy to welcome their new manager. After speeches from both Nicky and Richard, they all introduced themselves, and took the opportunity to ask many questions about Richard’s life and work back in Europe. Having met everyone, Richard quickly went to work – he has settled in well, and is already running the camp as if he has been there for months!

If you would like to work alongside Richard and Iko Esai community, we currently have a vacancy for a community conservation manager and would love to hear from you.


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Mangabey satellite enclosure construction completed at Rhoko

Nicolien Schoneveld : May 5, 2013 5:18 am : CERCONEWS

Using grant funding  from the International Primatological Society (IPS), we spent the first months of this year renovating the 3 enclosure and tunnel satellite system at Rhoko Forest. The satellites, situated adjacent to our main 1-hectare open-topped Red-capped managbey enclosure, are used to separate sick or old animals from the group to provide special care. Unfortunately, storms had severely damaged much of the existing structure leaving us with only one remaining usable section. Once repair work began, we quickly realised that the damage was even  more extensive than we originally thought. Maintenance coordinator David Sunday spent many weeks in Rhoko to oversee the work, needed assistance from virtually all of the Rhoko staff and in the end the only thing we did not replace was the mesh!

In addition to facilitating the temporary removal of animals from the group for health reasons, the new system will allow us to  separate a subset of the main group to prepare them for eventual release. Observational data taken over the years by research assistant Akposi and several volunteers has allowed us to identify 15 red-capped mangabeys from the population of 56 that will form the first group released into the surrounding protected community forest. Whilst the release is unlikely to occur this year, we are delighted that we are now fully prepared and can begin the process as soon as circumstances allow. Once again, we thank IPS for their support in making this possible.




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Abakum attends 2013 PASA Education Workshop in Cameroon

Nicolien Schoneveld : April 5, 2013 2:51 am : CERCONEWS

Education officer Abakum (far left) with fellow PASA workshop delegates

Education Officer Abakum Owai, represented CERCOPAN at the annual Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance (PASA) Education workshop, hosted this year in Yaounde Cameroon.  The workshop, focusing on the theme ‘Human Wildlife Conflict’ drew participants from primate sanctuaries across Africa, in addition to representatives from Disney, PASA and the conservation sector. PASA runs three workshops a year, on Management, Education and Veterinary Healthcare, to promote cooperation, community and mutual respect among its members and raise standards at member sanctuaries to the highest level possible. The objectives of this particular workshop were to provide the necessary tools and knowledge to enable sanctuary education staff to improve education and communication program efficiency, assess and address human wildlife conflict in conservation projects and incorporate mitigation of Human Wildlife Conflict into education programmes.

Abakum giving a talk about community conservation education at PASA workshop

In addition to the many talks, group discussions and presentations given during the workshop, participants were able to present the results of the previous years education programme at their sanctuaries. Abakum’s presentation went very well and he greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss his ideas and progress with his peers. The highlight of the trip for Abakum however, was a visit to the Mefou wildilife sanctuary, a project managed by Ape Action Africa, where he saw a gorilla for the very first time!

Abakum returned to CERCOPAN with many new ideas and the key skills and knowledge needed to work with communities to resolve human wildlife conflict. He would like to personally thank PASA for giving him he opportunity to attend the workshop and for their great efforts towards primate conservation.

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Tired of waiting for the job market to recover? We need you!

cercopanorg : April 5, 2013 1:52 am : CERCONEWS

Volunteer weldingAs you can probably imagine, in times of recession, priorities adjust and the environment takes a backseat to more immediate human needs, issues and services. People are less willing to donate, companies less willing to sponsor, trusts and foundations scale down and umbrella organisations tighten their belts. This translates into extremely difficult times for small un-endowed charitable organisations like CERCOPAN, working on conservation and animal welfare projects under already challenging conditions in distant lands. One thing you may not have considered however, is that the recession also makes people less willing to sign up to a period of voluntary work, right when we need them the most.

Volunteer vet nurse feeding baby monkey

Volunteers are vital to CERCOPAN’s growth and development and since our inception have provided a variety of skills and expertise for minimal cost, allowing us to conserve scarce resources for project development. They bring expertise ranging from construction and fundraising to veterinary science, ecology and environmental education whilst simultaneously capacity building local staff, which is vital for our long-term sustainability. I would therefore like to remind those who are currently frustrated by the job market, want to improve their CV or just make a difference by applying their experience, we still need you! We currently have a number of urgent positions open at http://cercopan.org/vacancies-2/ with an online application process. If these roles are not quite right for you, but you feel that you have  appropriate skills and experience to offer and are able to make a 1 year commitment please send your CV and a cover letter to claire.coulson@cercopan.org



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Site visit by Tusk Trust USA Executive Director

Nicolien Schoneveld : April 5, 2013 1:27 am : CERCONEWS

Tusk Trust USA Executive Director Meredith with Obio and MikeTusk Trust has supported CERCOPAN’s forest conservation activities since 2009, providing an important steady funding source for our long-term conservation efforts. This month, Tusk Trust USA Executive Director Meredith Ogilvie-Thompson visited our project in Nigeria to witness first-hand the programmes implemented by CERCOPAN.

Over the course of eight days, Meredith was introduced to the various aspects of our conservation activities. In Calabar, she observed the monkeys in our rehabilitation programme, and enjoyed the enthusiasm of a visiting school group. She also met with some key persons for the implementation of our programmes, most notably Dr. Odigha Odigha, Chairman of the Cross River State (CRS) Forestry Commission; and Mr. Arikpo Arikpo, CRS Forestry Commission Board Member responsible for Community Forestry Programmes.

In Rhoko, Meredith experienced our forest and community conservation activities. She interviewed the patrol rangers, all ex-hunters from our partner communities who have given up hunting to protect the forest. She also spoke with the research assistants, who carry out CERCOPAN’s forest research programme; and with Obio, our acting camp manager, who explained about the logistics and challenges of running a remote forest camp. In Iko Esai, Meredith witnessed the Iko Esai tree nursery, visited the abattoir projects and met with our Community Conservation Manager Mike Ekpe. Meredith stated she was impressed with the projects and with the people she met, both CERCOPAN staff and community members of Iko Esai, who all conveyed their strong commitment to conservation of their natural resources.

We are very pleased to have received a representative from Tusk Trust and are are looking forward to strengthening our collaboration with them in the future.

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Community conservation club sows seeds of change

Nicolien Schoneveld : April 5, 2013 12:46 am : CERCONEWS

CERCOPAN senior staff Mike and Obio at the Iko Esai Tree NurseryIn 2012, CERCOPAN constructed a tree nursery at the secondary school of Iko Esai. The students were trained to raise seedlings from the over 3,000 seeds collected in the community forest by CERCOPAN´s research assistants. Then, over the course of several days, community members united to plant out the seedlings in previously degraded areas. While some seedlings were planted at a distance from the village near the forest edge, a local water basin that had been negatively affected by historical logging activities was the primary target for the restoration work.

This month, our community team, led by Mike Ekpe and students of the Iko Esai Conservation Club, set out to prepare the tree nursery for the 2013 growing and planting cycle. Several

Community tree planting activities in Iko Esai beds had been severely damaged by the storms in the rainy season and these where either repaired or rebuilt from scratch. Roofs were also erected over every bed to provide shade, mimicking rainforest conditions. Several hundred seeds collected by the research assistants have been planted so far, and activities are ongoing. Mike provided a refresher course in seedling cultivation, giving the children the skills and knowledge needed to ensure a high percentage of the seeds germinate to produce healthy seedlings for community planting days planned later in the year. The Cross River State Forestry Commission was made aware of the progress in the tree nursery of Iko Esai, for which the community last year received a Loyalty Payment for Conservation Activities.

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CERCOPAN welcomes new Protected area manager

cercopanorg : April 3, 2013 12:05 pm : CERCONEWS

Richard MundyThis month we welcomed our new Protected Area Manager, Richard Mundy. A UK citizen, Richard spent the last 12 years working as Senior Scientist for the RPS Group in Ireland, and recently undertook placements in Afghanistan for the Conservation Organisation of the Afghan Mountains/UNEP, and Guinea-Bissau for Plan International. Richard holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences and Applied Ecology, and an MSc in Ecological Assessment. He is very excited to start on this new adventure in Rhoko, where he will be spending the next two years managing the Forest Conservation programme .

In addition to managing the protected area, Richard he will be assisting with our Community Conservation programme, working alongside Mike to ensure the smooth running of alternative livelihood projects, tree nursery, and implementation and enforcement of local community bylaws. Being an avid birder, Richard will hopefully add many new birds to the Rhoko species list we have been compiling over the years. Having met the Calabar staff, he is on the way to the forest as we speak to be settled in by Nicky, the Director, and Obio the Assistant Camp Manager. The CERCOPAN staff, both in Calabar and Rhoko, are delighted to welcome Richard to the team.

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Rhoko forest revealed to hold the highest butterfly diversity in Africa!

cercopanorg : February 27, 2013 3:05 am : CERCONEWS

The Robust Themis Forester (Euphaedra permixtum)

Careful surveying of the butterflies in Rhoko forest over a period of five years has demonstrated the highest species diversity on the African continent for a single location. More than 550 butterfly species have so far been identified within walking distance of our field station. But just as remarkable is the fact that the rate of detection has barely slowed down in the past two years. The statistics from such an extensive amount of work allows us to predict with a high degree of accuracy that there are in excess of 800 species present.

In West Africa the highest number for a single area is 650 is the Atewa Range in Ghana and, in general, good quality rainforests in Africa should contain around 600 species. Almost 800 species were recorded in one location in Cameroon. The extraordinarily high diversity of butterfly species shared by that location, Rhoko, and the contiguous forest in between is not a matter of chance. As the centre of a forest refuge during multiple periods of climate change over the past 15 million years, the area has both protected speciation and captured species from farther afield during periods of forest continuity. Cross River’s forests also harbour the highest diversity of primate species in Africa.

32 butterfly species have been confirmed in Rhoko that have not been seen before in the larger region. Two of these are new to science, and one of them will be published this year bearing the name of Rhoko. Just as soon as that happens we will show you a picture here!

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Iko Esai community bans slash & burn farming to save their forest

cercopanorg : February 27, 2013 2:35 am : CERCONEWS

Iko Esai Surveillance team recording dataIn a bid to take charge of a sustainable approach to their forest resource, the community of Iko Esai has for the first time ever imposed a ban on any clearing of forest for new farmland in the coming growing season. As a rule, the period from March to May each year sees an Armageddon scene as forest areas are opened up to farming simply by burning the trees that create a barrier between sunlight and fertile soil.  But rains wash away the nutrients within 2-3 years, and the slash & burn cycle continues, and continues…. As the forests recede, livelihoods dependent on a flourishing forest are threatened, and the sources for the basics of living such as firewood and water are impoverished.

Deforestation is the second biggest contributor to climate change (after the burning of fossil fuels). An international initiative to help mitigate climate change forces can also sustain forest dependence for communities such as Iko Esai. The United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Developing countries (REDD+) programme offers incentives in exchange for a commitment to conserve forested areas. Nigeria’s REDD programme is engaged and working to develop a programme with communities of Cross River State centred on Iko Esai. Iko Esai’s bold initiative is a step ahead of the timetable, to demonstrate their commitment to a long-term solution.

A Surveillance Team from the village, trained over the past three years by CERCOPAN, is actively patrolling the area to ensure everyone adheres to the new rule. Furthermore, CERCOPAN’s Community Liaison Officer, Mike Ekpe, is carrying out awareness activities for farmers working close to the forest edge. Speaking to them about the land-use management plan, conservation principles, REDD+, and the new Iko Esai clearing ban will help to ensure that they understand what is at stake, and adhere to the rules.

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