One domain of activities of the Centre for Indigenous Resources Management and Development (CIRMAD) is the conservation of the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) under our Participatory Programme for the Protection of Chimpanzees (PAPPro-Chimps)
This entails projects that lead to the overall goal of enhancing the survival of the endangered great ape species, with primary focus in the North West Region of Cameroon, which forms the heart of the Bamenda Highlands, itself a hotspot of biological diversity and endemism. Today the chimpanzee is the flagship species of this area, after the other big mammals like the elephant, lion, giraffe and the leopard have gone extinct, and as the critically endangered Cross River gorilla exists only in the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary bordering a just small portion of the North West Region.
This site of our primary focus is denoted in The Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) (Morgan, B.J et al; 2011) as the North West Region Chimpanzee Conservation Planning Unit. It suffers the progressive conversion of forests for agriculture and pasture, with only a few forest patches remaining as habitats of the remnants of the endangered chimpanzee. These are the Kom-Wum Forest Reserve (8,029 ha), the Fungom Forest Reserve (84,758ha) the Ako-Mbembe Forest Reserve (2,849 ha). There are also the Tubah Forest with some connectivity to a forest that straddles Awing and Balikumbat as a chimp habitat site. The vast Southern Menchum forest and the Ntem Forest are also believed to hold some populations of the P. t. ellioti.
Our actions under the PAPPro-Chimps programme include:
– conservation education, also through art
– habitat management
– support to law enforcement
– community conservation initiatives
CIRMAD’s involvement in the chimpanzee conservation work effectively started with the presentation of a paper titled: Conservation of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee in the North West Region, during the commemoration of the 2012 World Environment Day in Bamenda. After the presentation of that academic paper we have noticed with satisfaction that a number of local conservation organizations thenceforth embarked on some chimpanzee conservation actions, like CAEPA-Cameroon with habitat management in the Tubah Forest, The Greens with conservation education over their Conservation FM, ASDEP with field research efforts, etc.
Despite successive failures to secure donor funding support for various conceived chimp conservation projects in 2012 and 2013 we, with limited own funding, engaged community collaboration to investigate and confirm chimp presence in the Tubah Upland Forest and carried out a field trip with the local service of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to that effect.
CIRMAD’s Participatory Programme for the Protection of Chimpanzees (PAPPro-Chimps) responds to the statement of need in the Regional Action Plan* for: “… NGO partners to work with government to implement conservation activities in the region for the continued survival of the chimpanzees.”
Some ongoing and planned activities within the PAPPro-Chimps programme:
– Conservation education in schools and communities adjacent the chimpanzee habitat sites of the North West Region.
– Creation of Village Forest Management Committees (VFMC) in some chimp habitat site communities and the training of its members on sustainable agriculture, pasture improvement, agroforestry and the introduction of Analog Forestry Design.
– Community engagement for the reforestation/rehabilitation of degraded zones of the Kom-Wum Forest Reserve, for habitat protection.
– Organizing of a historic commemoration of the 2nd edition of the World Wildlife Day on 3rd March 2015 in Bamenda, North West Region, to highlight the trend of extinction of most large mammals of the Bamenda Highlands as a conservation challenge, with focus on the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.
– Organising of training workshops to build the capacities for concerted law enforcement for the protection of the threatened large mammals of the region, especially its current flagship species, the P. t.ellioti.
We laud the efforts of the various organizations, researchers and officials for putting in place the Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) of 2011, with a timeframe of 5 years. It is a standard guide for the protection of the endangered great ape species. However, there is need for its mid-term review to assess achievements so far and streamline the way forward to better ensure the survival of the P. t. ellioti in its restricted global range.
Our current chimpanzee conservation activities are supported by IDEA WILD, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s PPG Conservation and Sustainability Fund, the Sacramento Zoo Conservation Fund and the International Primatological Society.
We enter 2016 with a new donor partner for the work: The Chester Zoo, specifically in the Kom-Wum Forest Reserve.