Recipient of the Peter Karsten Award
For immediate release
Granby, October 27, 2022 — On October 20, the Zoo de Granby and its Conservation and Research Department won the prestigious Peter Karsten Award, which recognizes projects aimed at restoring habitats or species in their natural environment. This recognition is indeed very timely since we recently confirmed that with the renewal of our agreement with our scientific partner (Concordia University) for this project, the conservation initiative will continue until at least 2026!
On the picture, from left to right: Robert Wiladji, France Anougue, Patrick Paré and Isaac Djoko Blaise.
The Genesis of a Major Conservation Project
2015 marked the launch of what would become the Zoo de Granby’s most important conservation project in situ (in the natural environment). At least three exploratory missions led by the Zoo’s Director of Research and Conservation, biologist Patrick Paré, provided a prior understanding of the on-ground situation. These endeavours helped build a relationship of trust with local stakeholders, and developed the strategy and action plan with the various partners. Careful planning made it possible to lay the foundations for what was to become an ambitious international project.
Campo Ma’an National Park in Cameroon covers 264,000 hectares, more than five times the size of the island of Montréal! With a peripheral zone of nearly 200,000 hectares of pristine natural or commercially exploited sectors, and more than 120,000 inhabitants, mainly indigenous communities, many activities threaten the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the park. Twenty-three threatened species have been identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including elephants, mandrill monkeys and gorillas, all species currently residing at the Zoo.
During this first phase (2015–2022), the mandate of the Zoo de Granby conservation team and its partners was to:
- Provide equipment to eco-guards, trackers and the park conservation service to fight poaching and monitor animal populations in the park;
- Finance a veterinary laboratory for the analysis of micro-organisms potentially responsible for the transmission of zoonoses between humans and primates;
- Gain a better understanding of elephant movements in order to avoid poaching and potential conflicts with fruit-growing communities;
- Raise awareness in communities living on the outskirts of the protected area;
- Collaborate in the launching of an ecotourism initiative in line with the conservation mission of the park.
The commitment of local populations to the conservation initiatives was essential in this project. In fact, many exchanges took place with the communities to ensure that actions were carried out with their collaboration, the local partners (FEDEC, WWF Cameroon and AWF) and the park authorities. Their experience and know-how were also put to good use in finding solutions to human-wildlife conflicts and poaching issues.
On the picture: Patrick Paré, biologist and director of Research and Conservation at the Zoo de Granby, and eco-guards from Campo Ma'an National Park.
Concrete Results and Ongoing Conservation Efforts
Overall, the Zoo de Granby and the Fondation du Zoo have invested more than $350,000 to support the project’s objectives. These funds were used to finance the construction of a bridge, a laboratory, a research centre. A beekeeping project (installation of beehive fences) was also carried out, aimed at keeping elephants away naturally from community crops, while providing a supplementary income for the local population (through the sale of the honey produced). In 2022, 70 hives produced 40 litres of honey. Valérie Michel, animal care technician at the Zoo de Granby, also participated in various conservation initiatives through the three missions she carried out in Cameroon. She spent a total of 8 months working in the field at Campo Ma’an Park.
Our partnership with Professor Robert Weladji’s ecology laboratory (Concordia University) allowed us to carry out many research projects at the Zoo, but also within the natural environment of Campo Ma’an Park. After Isaac Djoko Blaise, a doctoral student, conducted research on the conflicts between human populations and elephants in Campo Ma’an National Park, it’s now Ms. France Anougue’s turn to launch her doctoral studies on the gorilla populations in the park (nearly 700 individuals).
The renewal of our agreement with Concordia University will allow us to support the work of graduate students and establish a tropical ecology program in Cameroon. Three postgraduate master’s projects and a doctorate are scheduled between now and 2026. The Zoo also hopes to continue its field missions starting in 2023.
“Working on another continent, with a fauna and a culture as rich and diverse as complex, is both a great challenge and an extraordinary opportunity for our conservation experts. Investing in the protection of wildlife in the wild, working to protect the Earth’s biodiversity and the abundance of habitats found here is part of our mission, and this recognition for the enormous amount of work accomplished since 2015 is received with great pride by all those involved in the project,” concludes Patrick Paré.
On the picture: Valérie Michel, animal care technician at the Zoo de Granby, and some children from the community of Campo.
About the Zoo de Granby
The Zoo de Granby is a non-profit organization, founded in 1953. Its mission is to Take Action to Preserve Wildlife. The Zoo participates in 43 programs included in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and shelters 45 at-risk species. The Zoo de Granby leads or collaborates with more than twenty conservation projects in Quebec as well as in many other locations all around the planet.
For more information:
Zoo de Granby
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450 372-9113 ext. 2119 | [email protected]