Mission: Protecting rainforests for primates and people
Species: Cherry crowned mangabey
Location: Nigeria, Africa
Amount donated: £2,188 to fund the research, rehabilitation and reintroduction elements of CERCOPAN's work.
Background: At the time of supporting the project Colchester Zoo was the only holder of cherry-crowned mangabeys in the UK. CERCOPAN is a non-governmental organisation that was established in 1995 with the aim of conserving rainforest biodiversity and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources through education, research, primate rehabilitation and forest protection. CERCOPAN has two sites in Nigeria, a headquarters at Calabar and a forest-based Research and Education Centre at Rhoko.
CERCOPAN is primarily a rehabilitation project, rescuing orphaned primate species such as guenons and cherry crowned mangabeys, which are typically kept as pets in Nigerian homes. This rehabilitation and reintroduction is a major component of the organization, however, conservation cannot be successful without collaborative environmental education and research programmes as well. CERCOPAN environmental education in the urban centre of Calabar has been ongoing for 10 years, and involves outreach to over 50 secondary schools, with more than 12,000 visitors per year visiting the centre headquarters. In addition, CERCOPAN also runs a practical forest conservation programme, which protects over 20,000 hectares of forest on the boundary of a national park, and conducts research into primate behaviour, forest ecology, and the problems of human-wildlife conflict
CERCOPAN has established a positive relationship with a local community to create a community forest conservation programme. By working with the community, CERCOPAN has been able to conserve a large area of community forest for conservation, made up of a core area, which is fully protected against hunting, and a research area. Historically six primate species were found in this core forest area. Today there are only 3 species present and these are at extremely low densities; including snot-nosed monkeys, the red-eared guenon and the drill. The other three species missing entirely from the protected area of forest are: mona monkeys, cherry-crowned mangabeys and chimpanzees. Using funding from Action for the Wild, CERCOPAN will investigate the status of all primates in the larger forest area this summer, to get a truly accurate idea of the species present in the research area.
Achievements: One of the major steps towards restoration of the primate community took place with the formation of a 400m long forest enclosure at Rhoko next to the national park. 7 mona monkeys and 18 cherry crowned mangabeys were transferred to this forest enclosure in preparation for their release into the research area. Since the mangabeys were taken to the forest enclosure in February 2004, there have been 11 successful births. Behavioural studies have shown that these orphaned monkeys can now find and feed on wild foods when they are available in the enclosure and that they appear to react appropriately to natural predators such as large raptors or snakes.
Future objectives: Care for the rehabilitating mangabeys in their forest enclosure by providing extra food, providing equipment and salaries for staff to patrol the forest area to help protect and conserve the rainforest, and indirectly benefit other animal and plant taxa, and to conduct future survey work this summer to assess the possibility of reintroduction of mangabeys and mona monkeys into the research area.