Additional Support for Cameroon
When viewed on a clear day from a rocky mountain top high above the montane forest cloaked slopes of the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, the landscape in which the Cross River gorilla has sought refuge from persecution is truly stunning with steep ridges and grass topped peaks stretching into the distance towards the Obudu Plateau area of Nigeria. On such days it is easy to quickly forget the physical and logistical trials associated with undertaking gorilla survey, monitoring and protection activities in the forests below.
Wildlife Conservation Society staff based in South West Cameroon spend a great deal of time in this rugged landscape. In the last 12 months, our Cross River gorilla survey and monitoring teams have completed an estimated 563 field days in Cameroon alone related to ongoing daily monitoring in the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, distribution surveys to discover unknown Cross River gorilla sites, general reconnaissance surveys in the Mbulu and Obonyi-Okwangwo areas (the latter in collaboration with rangers from Cross River National Park) and finally associated with surveys of potential habitat corridor areas between core gorilla areas. As I write, a further survey of the promising Mount Oko area is taking place to further improve our understanding of a new gorilla site that has recently been discovered there (more on this in the next journal!).
As every good field biologist knows, having good, well maintained field kit is essential to success, especially under Cross River gorilla conditions! Despite our careful selection of the most reliable backpacks, clothing, boots, tents, roll mats etc., the turn-over in field equipment is high and with so much recent field work having taken place and with shortages of field-ready equipment, we turned to Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe for help. Thanks to their generous support, we were able to purchase new waterproof backpacks, roll mats, tents, pelican cases and field books which have allowed our teams to remain field based.
While the intention of this brief article is to thank Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe for this timely support, perhaps we should all take a minute to also reflect on the huge contributions that our field staff make towards our conservation goals, if anyone knows what it takes to save a species, they do!