Tag Archives: Cameroon

Ian Redmond – On the Road to Lopé

Saturday 5th September                      

Gabon was resuming normal activities after the disputed elections and there was a football match in the afternoon. The only train to Lopé and Franceville had left the night before and the local travel agent said there were no flights to anywhere I needed to go.  

I had a morning meeting with the dynamic Michael Adande, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and National Parks. Then we were joined by Omar Ntougou, who I’d last seen at the Entebbe workshop on ape health. He’d said he would help and he did by kindly offering to drive to Lopé with me in the afternoon.  

Given that most of the population was settling down to watch the big match, this seemed above and beyond the call of duty, but we made some preparations, bought a few supplies and set off, with the car radio tuned to the commentary.  Cameroon won 2:0, but that didn’t seem to dampen the spirits in the car, where Omar and Joel sang and played air guitar (and keyboards and brass section) to keep awake.  

Gabon is home to many Western Lowland Gorillas. Though still comparatively numerous, their decline has been sharp and they need protection, especially from poaching and Ebola. Pic Ian Redmond.

It was after midnight when we pulled up outside the warden’s house.  I would have quietly found our accommodation but Omar knocked on the door until the warden emerged rubbing his face sleepily.  “Do you know it is the UN Year of the Gorilla?” asked Omar enthusiastically.  “Yeah, I’ve seen the T-shirt!” came the laconic reply.

My host for the night was agronomist Michael Allan, who served us all a delicious midnight feast and chatted over a whiskey into the early hours.  He had been hired by ECOFAC, an EU-funded programme that is developing selected protected areas across Central Africa, and had been wrestling with the difficulties of keeping local road repairing contractors on schedule. Gabon’s National Park network is still in its infancy, having been created only in 2002, but Lopé has been receiving ECOFAC support and attracting visitors for years.

Read Ian’s last post here!

Ian Redmond – Lions on the tarmac

Friday 4th September

Malabo looks like a green and pleasant land – at least the bits you can see from the airport lounge! Despite telephone calls to our few contacts in Equatorial Guinea, no transit visa or any other kind of visa was forthcoming. The Director of Wildlife was unable to help, and the head of the local Conservation International office told me he had colleagues who had waited months for a visa… Fortunately, Gabon was open for business again soon – only a 24 hour delay then!

Disembarking at Libreville Airport, passengers off my flight found ourselves mingling with a squad of green-clad athletes who were the focus of TV cameras and every airport workers’ camera-phone.  The Indomitable Lions (Cameroon’s National Football Team) had arrived to take on Gabon, and the excitement was infectious.

Having had meetings with their manager to discuss a friendly game in aid of great ape conservation, I tried to strike up a conversation, but serious minders were shielding the stars from unwanted stress before the big match.  Even Geremi Njitap, who some years ago did an ACAP ad urging people to stop eating illegal bushmeat (link to video on www.4apes.com/bushmeat), was shielded from my request.  Someone who turned out to be the team doctor promised me he’d get in touch and arrange a meeting in Yaoundé next week, but with the pressure of matches in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, I wasn’t too hopeful. (Click here to find out more about a YoG-supported Wildlife Law Enforcement project, aimed among other things at fighting illegal consumption of ape meat. You can support this project by donating!)

Crowds of Cameroon supporters cheered as I emerged from the Arrivals gate, and I wish I’d whipped out a YoG poster, but instead shot some video of the fans and got a taxi to the WCS office to make plans for the next few days.

Read Ian’s previous post here!

Rarest gorillas, Cross River Gorillas need help

Dear friends,

As part of our contribution to the Year of the Gorilla, we are helping GRASP (the Great Ape Survival Project) to raise funds for a number of field based gorilla projects in Africa.

First off is the Cross River gorilla, Gorilla gorilla diehli, there are fewer than 300 of these gentle animals left in the world. They occur in Nigeria and Cameroon, in about 11 distinct forest sites across a 12,000km2 landscape.  Seven of these sites fall within the boundaries of Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries or Forest Reserves, affording them some level of protection.

Cross River gorilla Range

Cross River National Park – Okwangwo Division (950 km²)

Afi River Forest Reserve: 383 km²
Afi River Mountain Sanctuary with about 20–40 individuals

Takamanda National Park: 676 km²

Mone Forest Reserve: 538 km²

Our goal is to provide support for the 100 or so gorillas in the remaining four sites outside of the protected areas through community-based conservation initiatives.

Support Gorilla Guardians

This includes the creation of and support to Nigeria’s first community managed Wildlife Sanctuary in the Mbe Mountains. This will involve the establishment of a gorilla guardian monitoring network with 8 local communities in the Mowambi and Mbulu-Mone forest areas.

In the most vulnerable Cross River gorilla sites in Cameroon we will also support a combined conservation and rural development approach being promoted in the Bechati-Fossimondi area.

The total Funding needed: €98,000 (US $ 123,000)

Salary support for eco-guards (Mbe Mountains) – €18,000 (US 20,000)

Training for eco-guards (Mbe Mountains) – €10,000 (US$ 12,500)

Develop alternative livelihoods for hunters (Mbe Mountains) – €10,000 (US$ 12,500)

Gorilla Guardian training (Mowambi & Mbulu-Mone) – €10,000 (US$ 12,500)

Gorilla guardian monitoring support (Mowambi & Mbulu-Mone) – €30,000 (US$ 37,700)

Elaborating co-management strategies (Bechati-Fossimondi) – €20,000 (US $25,000)

To support this projuect, just click on cross river gorilla on the donation widget to the right. Click here for more information on this extraordinary ape.

The implementing partners include: Wildlife Conservation Society, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains (CAMM), Development in Nigeria (DIN), the Cross River State Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Environment & Rural Development Foundation (ERUDEF) and 8 village-based gorilla guardians.

Cameroon creates new park for gorillas

Today we send out congratulations to Cameroon for establishing a new Gorilla Park. Deng Deng park is the size of Chicago and is hometo 600 western lowland gorillas. Lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN after populations crashed by more than 90% in recent years.

What a great way to start tGorillhe Year of the Gorilla

More information here