Mexican Volunteer: Cameroon’s Rainforest Is Safe For Conservation Expeditions

Mexican Volunteer, Anna

Mexican Volunteer, Anna

Hello, my name is Ana Paula de la Garza. I’m from Mexico City in Mexico. I have always wanted to do something valuable with my life; to do something for our planet; to contribute to the conservation of endangered animal species in Africa because if we don’t do that now, we will not have them in the future. This is what motivated me and I went out in search of a programme that could help me realize this.

After reading so many volunteering programmes around and in Africa, I found this one very interesting because it has been designed in such a way that one would have to spend all the expedition in the rainforest. So I thought it would be a great experience sleeping in the rainforest, waking up in the rainforest and tracking large mammals in the same natural environment. I saw it as an expedition that will make one have a true feeling of the natural environment, and learn more about the rainforest by being there.

When I shared this information with my family members and announced my coming to Cameroon, everybody was like, “take me with you!”

I had no idea about the area I was going; I just saw the pictures online and imagined everything green, the mountains – I was just excited about living the experience.

My desire is to enjoy this environment, to learn something about conservation and to share with some other people; contribute towards a balanced planet, a green planet. I like adventure and just hope to enjoy everything. I hope to take part in surveys that will assist to establish trends for the conservation of endangered mammals in the rainforest.

Contrary to media reports, I think the expedition area is absolutely secured. I think there is no need for people to be scared of any insecurity because the expedition site is very far away from the regions where you have the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

I just arrived; I think the place is safe. Everybody is so hospitable and I think everything is fine. I feel safe and so happy.

 

Cross River Gorilla Tour Attracts French Volunteers

Cross River Gorilla Tour Attracts French Volunteers

French Volunteers Set for Field Expedition

French Volunteers Set for Field Expedition

Motivated by their love for nature and the desire to contribute towards the conservation of Africa’s most endangered primate, the Cross River Gorilla, two French volunteers, Maillard Francette and her son Pascal Maillard flew to Cameroon on October 26, 2015. Their destination: the Lebialem Highland Conservation Complex (LHCC).

Once in the the Lebialem Highland Conservation Complex, Francette and Pascal headed for the Proposed Mak-betchou Wildlife Sanctuary and the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary where they are engaged in tracking and monitoring large mammals including the Cross River Gorilla, the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, Drill, and the African Elephant, while recording signs like dung, feeding, nests, etc.

Principal amongst Francette’s and Pascal’s expectations is to see the Cross Gorilla and other large mammals in their natural habitat.

Prior to the field expedition, the volunteers attended an orientation session at the ERuDeF Institute during which they were drilled on the environmental code, data collection techniques, expedition rules and regulations and what is expected of them in the field.

They were also enlightened on the various programmes and projects of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) and the ERuDeF Institute.

The volunteers also had time to visit some interesting sites in Buea; stopping and taking photos, and asking questions for clarification. They also paused to ask questions on the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary and the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Mexican Volunteer Ventures Out For Country Onion Wildings

Mexican Volunteer Ventures Out For Country Onion Wildings

Erandi Potting country onion wildings at central nursery

Erandi Potting country onion wildings at central nursery

Hello, my name is Erandi, and 24 years old. I’m from Guadalajara in Mexico; a student of Cubac in Agroforestry and Biology.

Many years ago when grandfather asked us what we wanted to be when grown up, I said a primatologist. I love animals, but primates are my passion. And that is why I arrived in Cameroon on August 5, 2015 to do volunteer at the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiveristy and Non-Profit Studies (ERuDeF Institute) in Buea – researching on primates especially the Cross River gorilla; its behaviour; sounds, social groups and feeding habits. This would contribute to my practical training towards graduation.

But first let me tell you about my first day in the Cameroon forest, precisely on Mt. Etinde in Limbe. I was very much exited because it was my first expedition in Cameroon. I had prepared egg, coffee and bread for breakfast. Guided by team leader Tengem Adeline from the Conservation of Threatened Trees in the Mt. Cameroon Area project, and driven by Asong Fabian, I and two other interns; Osayo Leaticia from the University of Buea and Acho Loveline from the ERuDeF Institute set off at 7am from ERuDeF head office.

We began hiking up the mountain at 8:30 am. The purpose of our trip is to collect country onion (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus) for transplantation into the wild. It does not sound like gorilla study, does it? But just like the Cross River gorilla which is endangered, country onion is also considered vulnerable by The Red List of 1998. The Range Description: Sub-populations are confined to Subri and Cape Three Points Forest Reserve in Ghana, in parts of the Southwest Region of Cameroon and in Gabon in an area to the north and in Lopé Forest Reserve.

Country onion is an important plant that is used as food and for income.

There is no rain this morning but we can hear a storm coming. I can hear a lot of birds but I can’t see them because there is very thick vegetation. We hike for approximately three hours after that we begin to see country onion seeds; the ones that we need to collect are the ones that are all ready germinated. After few hours of collecting, it’s time to leave.

Back in Buea, we visit the central nursery at the Delegation of the Ministry of Forersty and Wildlife where we are going to pot the country onion wildings and care for them until they ready to transplant in the forest. We apply Rodenticide and Muccap in each polythene bag against rodents.

After working in a government rescue centre in Mexico; CIVS (Centro investigacion y de reabilitacion de vida Silvestre) rescuing wildlife pets – chimps, elephants, snakes, frogs, spiders, etc, when they go missing, and we are called to rescue them and return them to their owners, I have learnt a lot about conservation NGOs. I did not know anything about how they operate. At ERuDeF Institute, I have learnt that the NGO also teaches youngsters environmental conservation.

I also have learnt to eat plums with milk.

 

 

‘ERuDeF Institute is Unique in Programmes and Biodiversity Research’

‘ERuDeF Institute is Unique in Programmes and Biodiversity Research’

Volunteer with ERuDeF Institute, Erandi Nayu

Volunteer with ERuDeF Institute, Erandi Nayu

I am a final year Biology student of the Centro Universitario de Ciencia Biologicas Agropecuarias (CUSBA) Mexico. In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Bachelor of Science in Biology, I had to embark on a four-month internship/volunteering program in Biodiversity and Forest Conservation.

I have always dreamed of studying plant and animal conservation in Africa because of its rich heritage in biodiversity. While I was going through a document online about biodiversity conservation institutions in Africa I came across the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies. The testimonies from other people in my country that have done similar exercises at the Institute fascinated me.

I was thrilled by the exploits of the Institute particularly in areas of environmental research and conservation studies. I made some enquiries about the institution; visited its website http://www.erudefinstitute.org, contacted some people in Africa to find out if I could visit the continent for my volunteering programme and was made to understand that ERuDeF Institute is one of the best in terms of training and biodiversity conservation research in Africa. That’s how I found myself here in Cameroon.

I arrived in Cameroon on August 8, 2014 filled with the desire to carry out intensive research on the nature and uniqueness of Cameroon’s biodiversity hotspots, animals, birds and wildlife as a whole.
I think my stay in Cameroon will also help me learn more not only about the uniqueness of Africa’s flora and fauna, but the political, religious and economic life of the people as well.

Erandi Nayu Vazquez Osorno
Volunteer from Mexico

When Luxury Becomes Nonsense in African Nature!

German born, Nico Fischer, at the heart of Tofala Hill Wildlife Santcuary

German born, Nico Fischer, at the heart of Tofala Hill Wildlife Santcuary

The great day arrived on May 8, 2015. My trip to Cameroon had begun early in the morning at the airport of Stuttgart in Germany. My mission: to join the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit Studies (ERuDeF Institute) International Volunteering Programme for wildlife conservation. A wildlife project about the protection and safety of endangered species like the Cross River Gorilla and Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee as well as several bird and butterfly species. Strapped in my aeroplane seat high up in the sky, I felt really excited as I contemplated having a great time in Cameroon and to be able to have a real experience of Africa!

The first touch with Cameroonian lifestyle was more than different to my life at home. I took the first days in Buea to adapt myself to Cameroon but I was still proud to be able to have this experience. After a few meetings in Buea, a group of ERuDeF Institute staff and I travelled to Besali in Lebailem Division in the Southwest Region with a short rest in Menji. Step to step, the streets became more rural and the luxury, I knew from my home, gradually disappeared. Then we arrived in Besali, a village in the newly-created Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary with no electricity and little or no water supply. It is at this level that I started feeling the great spirit of natural community; personally, I enjoyed the lovely relation between the people here.

The next stop was the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected rainforest area in the Southwest of Cameroon not far away from the borders of Nigeria. It was induced by ERuDeF several years ago. It is the habitat for endangered species like the Cross River Gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, several bird species and more than 5,000 butterfly species. These make the area one of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots needing the engagement and encouragement of conservationists to ensure the protection of endangered species. We spent eleven days in the forest; hiking and collecting data of signs of primates and bush animals. During this time, I proudly was able to find out that luxury became from time to time nonsense! The mobile phone, the camera or the lights, after days, are not important anymore. You go to bed when it is dark and you get up when the sun is rising, you save the pictures you see in your mind and not in your camera. You are able to enjoy the purity of life more and more. You eat what the forest gives you (bush onions, chillies (pepper), bush fruits) and you drink water the river sends to you. On the other hand, the nature takes what you give her back. The ants eat your cooking waste, the butterflies drink from your wet clothes, and the bees collect stuff from your meal.

The underlying lesson I got from this rainforest experience is that there is a balance between nature and human beings. The relationship between nature and humans is giving and taking. I was allowed to feel the experience that I am, as a human being, a part of our nature. Every human being on earth is a production of natural processes and will go back to nature when he or she dies. Hence, we have a big responsibility to ensure the protection of our nature and to keep the relationship between nature and humans in a fair balance. Not only since we are a production of nature, but more so because if we focus ourselves, we can feel the spirit of nature in ourselves. This spirit is our oldest part and connects us with every other animal on earth. We have to scrutinize ourselves on what we can do to secure nature and all the beings living within. We have to teach our children to be fair to nature. We have to engage ourselves and we have to mobilize ourselves to stand up for nature and struggle for its safety.

By Nico Fischer

ERuDeF BIOLOGISTS/VOLUNTEER ENCOUNTER GROUP OF CHIMPANZEES IN TOFALA

Cameroon Nigeria ChimpIt was early this year,at dinner time. A team of Biologists/International volunteers from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) gather to have a meal in the forest before going to sleep. Before they could do that, they were interrupted by Chimpanzees vocalizing just close to their camp site. It was difficult to see the chimps because it was already dark. Yet the team did not give up especially as the vocalizations continued. Excited and anxious, the team accompanied by Sebastian Linnarz, a PhD student from the University of Bonn, Germany on internship with the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non Profit Studies (EIBiNs) set out to meet with the human cousins.

The team took along their touch light, machetes and other materials but due to the difficult terrain and the darkness, it took them more time to reach to where the chimps where sleeping.

When the team got to where the chimpanzees were sleeping, they put on their touch lights to avoid fall off but this caused panic in the group of chimps. Behold! 10 chimpanzees started screaming, urinating on them and running in all directions.

One of the chimpanzees in total confusion, started going up and down a tree without branches but finally chose to stay up the tree. Sebastien who was seeing a Chimpanzee in the wild for the first time could not hide his excitement “It is such an amazing experience for me coming face to face with this human cousin in its natural habitat. I will carry this experience all my life’

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi & Asoh Bedwin