Volunteer Opportunity
Gain hands-on Experience

Volunteer Saving Cross River Gorillas and Chimpanzees in Cameroon

Help out first hand in the Highland Rainforests of South West Cameroon

Spend two or more weeks volunteering on conservation projects saving these great apes from extinction.

The Cross River gorilla could become extinct within 10 years, unless we act now. Volunteering on this conservation project in Cameroon will take you to work on the frontline of conservation, taking part in surveys of the montane rainforests - some of which have never been surveyed before - and in community education and awareness-raising activities.

South West Cameroon harbours two of the most threatened African great apes: the critically endangered Cross River gorilla - the rarest of the gorilla sub-species with 250-300 individuals left in the wild - and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee - also the most endangered chimpanzee subspecies in Africa. They are both keystone species in the montane forest ecosystems of the border region of Nigeria and Cameroon.

Crossing a river - Cross River Gorilla volunteer expeditionBad RoadsChildren learn bird watching

Join a 2 or 4-week expedition that gives volunteers the chance to work as part of an award-winning team, protecting Africa's most endangered great apes through direct action.

Highlights

Helping to conserve Cross River Gorillas and chimpanzees; working with local staff; participating in great apes surveys; checking camera traps; environmental education activities at primary and secondary schools; being immersed in the indigenous communities of the highland rainforest; meeting with local kings, chiefs, teachers and children; visiting Limbe Wildlife Centre; and experiencing this unique, authentic African rainforest expedition.

Activities

The expedition will focus on great apes surveys and education and awareness raising activities. Each survey period generally will last two-four weeks (with breaks every three-five days) - the sampling design of which will be established prior to the start of the surveys. Former local hunters have been employed by the project to serve as field guides. Your life during the surveys will be nomadic, breaking camp each day to move to the next site - with the help of field guides and porters. You'll cover steep slopes, sometimes making for extreme hiking and trekking, as you follow family groups of gorillas and chimpanzees. You'll look for animals and nest sites, signs of feeding and habitat use, documenting observations through photography and GPS coordinates. You may encounter other endangered primates and hundreds of bird species and other wildlife. The project language is English, and you'll receive field training in scientific survey techniques and GPS tracking and mapping.

Education and awareness raising will form a key part of this expedition. Changing the attitudes towards great apes and improving empathetic relationships between children and wildlife is a prerequisite to sustainable co-existence and the protection of apes.

Crossing a river - Cross River Gorilla volunteer expeditionBad RoadsChildren learn bird watching

Location

The Lebialem Highlands are a six-hour drive from the coastal town of Limbe in the South West Province of Cameroon. The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko Coastal Forests ecoregion supports one of the highest rates of animal species richness in Africa, especially in terms of forest-restricted mammals, birds and butterflies. The Lebialem Highlands of which Bechati-Lebialem forest is part is also part of this eco-region are especially rich in endemic biodiversity species. Over 355 bird species have been recorded, among which 50 species are endemic to the afro-montane highlands and 15 species are globally threatened. The low to mid-level elevation is home to endangered primates as the Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus) and the Preuss guenon (Cercopithecus preussi).

What difference does this project make?

Identified threats to the survival of gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates in the Lebialem Highlands are agricultural encroachment (the conversion of forest habitats to farms and plantations), commercial logging, habitat and great ape population fragmentation due to settlements and roads, and most especially hunting, trapping and the illegal trade of bush meat. There is an urgent need to complete the assessment of the distribution of great apes as well as the threats and opportunities for their conservation.

Currently the project is establishing the first community wildlife and forest reserves, conducting environmental education activities and setting up reforestation projects. The project is also developing income generating opportunities such as bushmeat farming with the local villagers, in order to curb bushmeat hunting and provide the villagers with a sustainable source of protein.

Field Conditions

You will stay in local hostels while in town and in bushcamps in the field. The local conditions are very basic and the terrain is very though, with steep slopes. Temperatures and humidity are high. The expedition will involve camping in two man tents. There will be no electricity and no toilets. Meals will be provided two times a day while in the field. Generally they are very basic.

Qualifications

Qualifications Required

Expedition Members must be highly motivated and physically fit as the environment is very demanding. Some trekking and climbing experience would be an advantage. The local climate is hot and humid; temperatures are ranging from 25-40°C. It is important that expedition members can work as a team and assist the local staff in the daily tasks.

Skills gained

Volunteers should expect to gain exposure to current fieldwork and processes and the working methods of small independent NGOs. The focus is to provide volunteers with the opportunity to assist in research projects, great apes surveys and attend workshops and meetings with local communities and schools. Training will be provided in great apes surveys and biodiversity monitoring, use of GPS and navigation tools, data collection, and environmental education.

leaving-camplouisconservation-education

How to Apply?

To reserve your place on this expedition, please send us an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with your name and contact details (email), dates and duration of interest and we will send you an application form as soon as possible. A (non-refundable) US$150 deposit is required to hold your place. If you are making a reservation within 60 days of the start expedition, the entire amount needs to be transferred. If you have made a deposit, final payment is due 60 days prior to the expedition start date.

Dates & Costs

TWO WEEKS

ARRIVAL

DEPARTURE

REMARK

Saturday

7th

Saturday

21nd

Dry Season

Saturday

14th

Saturday

28th

Saturday

4th

Saturday

18th

Dry Season

Saturday

11th

Saturday

25th

Saturday

4th

Saturday

18th

Dry Season/ Dry-Rainy starts

Saturday

11

Saturday

25th

Saturday

1st

Saturday

15th

Dry-Rainy

Saturday

8th

Saturday

22nd

Saturday

15th

Saturday

29th

Saturday

6th

Saturday

21th

Dry-Rainy

Saturday

13th

Saturday

27th

 

Saturday

3rd

Saturday

17th

 

Saturday

10th

Saturday

24th

 

JULY. BOOKING FOR ANIMAL CARE IN CAPTIVITY ONLY.
NO BOOKING FOR FIELD EXPEDITION

Heavy rainy season

 

AUGUST. BOOKING FOR ANIMAL CARE IN CAPTIVITY ONLY.
NO BOOKING FOR FEILD EXPEDITION

 

Saturday

16th

Saturday

30th

Rainy-Dry season starts

Saturday

7th

Saturday

21st

Rainy-Dry season

Saturday

14th

Saturday

28th

Saturday

4th

Saturday

18th

Dry Season

Saturday

11

Saturday

25th

Saturday

2nd

Saturday

16th

Dry Season

CHRISTMAS BREAK

 
             

FOUR WEEKS

BOOKING CODE

ARRIVAL

DEPARTURE

REMARK

 

Month

Day

Month

Day

 

AE1M1701

January

Saturday

7th

February

Monday

6th

Dry Season

AE1M1702

February

Saturday

4th

March

Monday

6th

AE1M1703

March

Saturday

4th

April

Monday

3rd

AE1M1704

April

Saturday

1st

April

Sunday

30th

Dry Season

AE1M1705

May

Saturday

6th

June

Monday

5th

AE1M1706

June

Saturday

3rd

July

Monday

3rd

Start of Heavy Rainy Season

AE1M1707

September

Saturday

30th

October

Monday

30th

Dry-Rainy starts

AE1M1708

November

Saturday

4th

December

Monday

4th

Dry Season

AE1M1709

December

Saturday

2nd

January

Sunday

7th

On Special Request

2 Weeks $1,650.00
4 Weeks $2,350.00

Longer stays? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information!

What's included

  • Transport to and from the airport
  • 2 nights accommodation in a hotel in Buea (1 night at arrival/1 night at dept)
  • Transport to and from field base
  • Local transportation
  • Food and water
  • Guides and Porters

What's not included

  • International Flights
  • Medical and Travel Insurance
  • Personal Kit
  • Inoculations and Medication
  • Visa (can range in price from $100-$120 USD.
  • Occasional meal out in town (ranging from $5-12)

F.A.Q.

Why should I have to pay to volunteer?

Volunteers are a key part of the project. Your hard work and enthusiasm are very much needed and appreciated by the local team and communities. However, we don't have the funds to subsidise volunteers, so we need your contributions to cover the costs of the programme activities. This includes meals, equipment, local staff and transport, program materials, the services of a trained expedition leader, on-site coordination and development of the programme and administrative costs. Your volunteer contribution also helps to create local jobs in an area where there are virtually no paid jobs available – and to create and maintain new reserves to protect the great apes populations.

Will someone meet me at the airport?

Yes, please send your flight itinerary to ACF at least two weeks in advance of the expedition start date. An ACF or ERUDeF staff person or representative will meet you in the public area outside Customs and bring you to your hotel.

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

Please notify ACF as soon as possible and confirm your new arrival times so the expedition leader can arrange your transportation.

What should I do if I arrive before the scheduled arrival date?

If you choose to spend time in-country before the expedition begins, please plan to meet your team at the designated airport or hotel within the specified arrival window on the first day of the program in order to be transported to the local office and the field sites.

How do volunteers stay involved once back home?

In the last few years, volunteers have expressed a strong desire to stay connected with the project and continue to support local activities once they return home. Sharing the excitement of new insights and perspectives is an important part of your experience. Raising local and international awareness raising for the plight of endangered species is very helpful and we need your help to recruit others to join future expeditions. Volunteers and interested people can link to our Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/crossrivergorillas

Volunteers engaged in monitoring activitiesChimpanzeeBird watching

Specifications

Country: Cameroon

Age Range: 18-70

Group Size: 2-10 people, including staff.

Languages: English, French

Testimonials

"I enjoyed every moment of the rainforest experience. The field guide is an amazing trekker and teacher. We learned about the different animals’ trees and fruits in the forest. My favorite part – the tour of the forest fruits that we could eat. Thank you for the experience I will definitely do it again." -- Nontle (South Africa)

"All my expectations have been met entirely, actually exceeded. It was a very challenging experience and I am happy it was so successful. I now better understand the threats the Apes are under and the urgent need of a sanctuary and full protection." -- Cinzia (Australia)

"Suddenly, I perceived some slight motion below and looked to see a long, furry arm reaching up and then a naked, human-like face about 15 metres away. Chimpanzees!! The leader moved forward ... He didn’t see me at first but after only a few seconds, as I was watching through my binoculars, his senses, shaped and modified by natural selection, picked up my presence. And then something remarkable happened. When his eyes first met mine, a look of confusion passed over his face. He was puzzled at what it was he was looking at. Moments later, he moved off but only a short distance whereupon he turned around and looked back at me again … It was no doubt the first time he’d seen a white person and he didn’t know what to make of it." -- Michael (USA)

"I came to Cameroon with the expectation of broadening my mental horizon by understanding a culture which was entirely different from mine. With my background in biology and ecology, I can say the science component was simply a bonus. I can without hesitation say that all of my expectations were met and the experience I gained from my volunteering term is truly indispensable." -- Alyssa (USA)

"The atmosphere was great at the campsite: we were a good team! It is important that you can get along with each other when you're living so close together. With Solomo and Edwin, and the other volunteers Greg, Jamie and Anja we were a nice little family away from the rest of the world. The food was simple but good. You are always hungry when you're living outside." -- Bernard (Holland)

"We were very quiet, walking up hill, tracing the apes, stopping and recording information as the needs arise. Then the exciting moment; we saw monkeys, got very close to chimpanzees and actually saw them shaking the branches responding to our presence. There was one occasion when we actually got footsteps in the forest and thought it was a person. We went to find out what was happening but could only see fresh banana peelings indicating that the foot steps were those of a gorilla. This was really exciting" -- John (UK)

"I saw elephants, heard the vocalization of chimpanzees and gorillas-fresh tracks and nests of gorillas and Chimpanzee during my stay in the forest. It was a fantastic experience and I am so happy to have lived those moments" -- Hanna-Maija (Finland)

"My heart would pound with excitement each time we found signs that a gorilla had feasted on a plantain plant or that the chimpanzees had arranged beds of leaves. Perhaps my primate friends were nearby? We heard the chimps throwing stones and vocalizing to each other many times.  Once, while we sat quietly, we heard a cross-river gorilla walk near pounding his chest" -- Daniel Cohen (Switzerland)

"We were standing on a farm and our field guide went to record feeding signs and saw two gorillas. He signaled us and we went closer to where he was but the gorillas heard as we were approaching and went away. The other volunteers were not able to see them but I saw one of them for a short time … It was amazing!" -- Jonas (Germany)