On Mission in Cameroon

Since 2015, the Zoo de Granby has been collaborating with the Campo Ma’an National Park conservation and research mission, in the southern part of Cameroon. Along with its partners—the University of Concordia, the World Wildlife Fund, Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and the Environment and Rural Development Foundation—a strategic plan was elaborated to better understand and protect the park’s more than 350 elephants and 700 gorillas.

With this in mind, the Fondation du Zoo de Granby has launched an ambitious fundraising campaign with the objective of collecting $200,000 to improve the equipment and to support the conservation and research actions carried out in the park. In 2019, Valérie Michel, an Animal Care technician, is on her third work mission in Cameroon. Her mandate will last four months.

By viewing these pictures, you’ll learn what happened during her first two months there. You can also contribute to the protection of elephants and gorillas by donating to the Fondation du Zoo.

When Valérie arrived on May 8, accompanied by the Campo Ma’an National Park warden, the WWF veterinarian, a University of Concordia researcher, and several eco-guards. Many among them were wearing shirts with the zoo’s logo, given as a gift.

A plantation project of 500 melliferous plants is financially supported by the Zoo. The first plants were given to two bordering Mabiogo landowners for which the zoo also financed hive installations.

Valérie, Urbain (Project Coordinator), David and Isaac are working on the hives: “We spray ourselves with smoke before we approach the colonized hives. IT’S REALLY HOT!!! We were able to harvest a little today. Ten hives out of 20 are colonized. We’ve now harvested honey from some hives for the third time. The bordering landowners are grateful for the Zoo’s collaboration and we savour a glass of mead made from the honey we harvested.

Valérie accompanies the park’s workers at a workshop discussing the benefits of nature and the importance of protecting the park animals. Students of the Lycée Moderne de Campo are proud to have their picture taken with Valérie.

A bridge is about to collapse on the park’s road leading to the trackers and the WWF researchers’ camp. It must be rebuilt. The Zoo shares this expense with the Cameroonian Government for the workers’ wellbeing and to be efficient in their fight against poachers. The first picture shows the bridge as it is leaning on its side since the central pillar broke. On the second one, we can see that the work has started. The bridge should be operational by July.

“Michael and I are extracting DNA for the first time together. We are testing the method by using the trackers’ saliva!” Michael Kuwong is the Campo Ma’an National Park’s designated veterinarian. Thanks to a laboratory built in 2018 and financed by the Zoo de Granby, we’re concentrating our research on the study of zoonoses which can affect animal populations, in particular gorillas, mandrills and chimpanzees. Being an Animal Care technician, Valérie has the necessary skills to assist with this task.

In order to follow the elephants’ movements near the park’s limits, Isaac Blaise, a University of Concordia doctoral student, along with his team, install more than a dozen cameras inside the forest. “Up until now, we’ve seen buffaloes, antelopes, mandrills, chimpanzees, bush pigs, squirrels … and elephants! We also found some clues of their presence: feces, tracks and marks on trees.”

Walking through a tropical forest is a real challenge! Between the stinging insects, the venomous snakes and the poachers, there are a few “thorny” trees! This is Valéries’s daily lot at the Campo Ma’an National Park!

And this is only the beginning of Valérie’s journey! Wish to follow Valérie, register to receive our newsletter.

You too can contribute to the project by donating to the Fondation du Zoo de Granby!

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