The main goal of the Great Apes Conservation Program is to provide long term security to the populations of the Cross River gorillas and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees and their habitats located through research and the implementation of a community based management strategy.
The program focusses on several key objectives:
- Strengthening the capacity of the proposed great ape reserves to conserve the Cross River gorillas and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees subpopulations;
- Implement an improved environmental education strategy;
- Support the development of sustainable livelihoods and economic development initiatives;
- Support the monitoring of the great apes subpopulations in the main forest areas; and
- Support the development of a public information system to increase local, national and international awareness on the conservation of these species.
Program outputs since 2004 include the creation and management of the (proposed) Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (THWS) and the establishment of bio-monitoring and forest surveillance activities to protect great apes.
The program also supports the implementation of sustainable livelihoods and economic development initiatives, the development of a rural financial mobilization scheme known as the forest protection fund, and reorganization of the rural marketing framework, known as the Lower Mundani Farmers Cooperative Society, around the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Environmental education and awareness raising is a crucial element of this work.
Major project successes from 2004-2012:
- Designation of a new system of proposed protected areas with the production of the conservation map of the Lebialem Highlands;
- Establishment of a bio-monitoring system for gorillas and chimpanzees in 3 key sites - Mak/Betchou forest (proposed Ellioti Chimpanzee Sanctuary), proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and Tofala-Mone Forest Corridor at Ashukem-Bokwa Hills with the introduction of camera traps;
- Creation and strengthening of community management structures around the proposed THWS;
- Launching of the biodiversity assessment and land-use assessment of the Lebialem-Mone Forest Landscape;
- Creation of the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (in progress);
- Launching of the Livelihoods and Economic Development initiative for the local communities;
- Establishment of a holistic environmental education program.
- Increased awareness and commitment of the state and general public to the process of long term management of these great apes.