Overview of two years of work in Cameroon!
With its growing wish to act beyond its borders, the Zoo de Granby, in 2015, initiated an ambitious scientific research and conservation project at the Campo Ma’an National Park in the south of Cameroon. They are working in collaboration with the Foundation for Environment and Development in Cameroon (FEDEC), the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Concordia University and the Cameroonian government.
In 2018 and 2019, Valérie Michel, an animal care technician for the Zoo, stayed in Cameroon for eight months in order to share her expertise. Therefore, she collaborated with different projects for which the Zoo established partnerships to protect elephants, gorillas and dozens of other animal species living in this natural environment, covering 264,000 hectares, set in the middle of a tropical forest.
1. The Fight against Poaching
In only one year, 27 people were stopped for acts of poaching, 425 kg of illegally hunted game was seized and 32 illegal campsites were destroyed.
Buffalos, antelopes, gorillas, mandrills, pangolins and elephants are part of the species hunted by poachers. To counter this threat, the Eco-guards need powerful vehicles and wild brush route must be well kept. Here are the Zoo de Granby’s contributions to help with the fight against poaching:
- Purchase of two Yamaha AG100 motorcycles
- Repair of two 4 × 4 trucks
- Construction of a bridge over the Bitande River
- Purchase of surveillance equipment (binoculars, GPS, cameras, satellite communication equipment, torch lamps, etc.)
2. Ecological Monitoring of Gorillas
The gorillas of the park are at risk because of all the pressure human activity has brought about. They are threatened by poachers, the loss of habitat in the periphery of the park and all the diseases transmitted by humans. The Zoo has therefore implemented the following actions to monitor the health of these great primates:
- Construction of a research laboratory for zoonosis (a building with several rooms powered by electricity and solar energy, wells and water reservoirs);
- Onsite support by a Zoo de Granby animal care technician for 8 months;
- Equipment purchases to facilitate gorilla tracking and for forest survival (backpacks, first-aid kits, GPS, cameras).
3. Elephant/Human Conflict Management.
Elephants often cause a lot of damage to the park’s bordering communities’ crops and fruit tree plantations. They themselves feel threatened when elephants pass through their villages. All this creates many conflicts between humans and animals. To reduce these conflicts, Concordia University and the Zoo de Granby have united forces and recruited a Cameroonian doctoral student studying in ecology and specially in elephant movements around the park. His studies allowed him to propose mitigation methods to safely drive away the pachyderms. To support Isaac Blaise Djoko with his doctoral project, the Zoo de Granby has offered its technical and material help:
- Purchase of more than twenty camera traps and their installation in the bush;
- Support a technical team for elephant research and their monitoring;
- Purchase of GPS tracking collars for elephants;
- Technical support for elephant capture missions, to place these GPS collars which will allow following the populations throughout the park;
- Establishing a mitigation system made with beehive fences, bees drive away elephants naturally… (Learn more by reading the article: Bees for saving our elephants?)
4. Creating Awareness
In the context of the park wishing to develop its ecotourism potential, it’s important to generate the interest of tourists and to offer them stimulating activities in a safe environment all the while creating awareness for nature conservation. Some of the actions carried out by Valérie Michel, especially in the bordering villages of Campo, Akak and Mabiogo, included school visits, surveys with the communities and interviews on the local radio.
5. Local Development
The park’s neighbouring communities live mainly from hunting, fishing and products from the earth. Their living conditions can bring them to illegally exploit resources they find in the protected areas in order to satisfy their primary needs, which is not something we wish to happen. By creating a feeling of belonging to the park and by supporting local development, the Zoo de Granby encourages respect for the wildlife and flora which provide all these benefits.
Therefore, a beekeeping project was launched in 2018 in certain villages bordering the park.
- Consultation and Training Contrat
- Purchase of about twenty hives and bee colonies
- Purchase of beekeeping equipment (suits, feeding sugar, smokers, honey harvesting equipment, material for making candles and mead)
- Financial support for the beehive managing team.
And there’s more to come. Because we wish to preserve biodiversity for future generations, the Zoo de Granby will be present in Cameroon for still many more years!