Research at Rhoko Forest CERCOPAN

Information on primate behaviour and ecology is continually collected on both the Red capped mangabeys and Mona guenon groups housed at Rhoko, and also on the wild Putty nosed guenons that live in the core area. This work is very important, not only to guide our captive management of the monkeys and ensure the best possible care, but also to learn more about these little-known species. The data collected during primate reintroductions is of particular importance, as very few monitored primate releases have taken place and the lessons learned are not only useful to guide future CERCOPAN releases, but also other primate reintroduction projects throughout Africa.

CERCOPAN has 6 transects covering over 12km, and a 100m grid system cut into the forest that allows for long term research studies. Our phenology study (the study of annual flower and fruit cycles of plants and tree), started in 2006, is undertaken every month in the grid system and will become one of the longest-term studies of Nigerian flora. Every fruit and flower found in the sampled area either on the ground or still attached to a plant is recorded, providing extensive biodiversity data and information on species cycles. After each new species is identified, we also offer samples of the plant to our captive primates so that we can find out if they are a primate food item, which has importance for the reintroduction project. A pictorial catalogue of “monkey food” and “non monkey food” species has been created and is constantly updated.

We have also been collecting information on the incredible biodiversity of Rhoko forests for many years and with the help of visiting experts we have partial species lists for reptiles, amphibians, birds and butterflies. Wildlife population surveys are undertaken by CERCOPAN staff both along the Core area transects and in the research area and community forest. Repeating the surveys continually allows for comparisons between years and seasons to indicate population growth or decline. This information forms part of our continuous evaluation and monitoring programme which allows us to determine whether our initiatives are having the desired effect. CERCOPAN also collects daily information recording levels of non-commercial exploitation of forest resources by local people, data on forest disturbance, and meteorological data.

In the past, national and international researchers have chosen CERCOPAN HQ and Rhoko to undertake independent research on a range of topics including parasitology, viral pathogens, nocturnal primates, butterflies, hunting etc. If you are interested in undertaking independent research at CERCOPAN please see our Research opportunities page.