Tofala Expedition: ‘We Had Close Encounters With Chimpanzees’

Mike record (left) and ERuDeF Biologist record wildlife data in Tofala

Mike record (left) and ERuDeF Biologist(right) record wildlife data in Tofala

My name is Mike Gray and I come from the UK. It is my first time in Africa. I love to see and know new things. One of my friends who volunteered in another organization in Africa told me about ERuDeF Institute and this volunteering programme, which I saw as an opportunity to learn some new things about wildlife and environmental protection.

My coming to Cameroon was also motivated by the desire to know the Cameroonian people, their culture, religion, way of life and the urge to support ERuDeF Institute in her efforts in protecting the environment.

While in Cameroon, I visited the Tofala Hills Wild Life Sanctuary, a site host to the critically endangered cross river gorilla and the endangered Nigerian Cameroon chimpanzees. It was such an interesting and exciting one! We had close encounters with chimpanzees; I could see them howl and beat their chests about ten meters away from us. This was a rare life time experience to me.

I felt so happy that even the climbing made deck right to the top of the hill and everything I saw in the field was a bonus. I am so glad my expectations were met. I was indeed very pleased.

I how ever discovered during the trip that the Cross River Gorillas, Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzees and other wildlife species are still under threat from encroachment and hunting. There was also evidence of new vegetation clearance for farming and a large number of small traps were found.

These traps, I was told, are set for small animals but capable of catching gorillas and chimpanzees. Formal protection needs to be put in place as soon as possible for the sake of the wild life and the local communities.

I was impressed by the services ERuDeF rendered and must congratulate the organization for the wonderful work it is doing for the world at large.

Contrary to my fears, I realized that Cameroon Is a very safe place to travel and work in; everyone is very welcoming and the ERuDeF staff very professional and also ready to provide volunteers with very safe environment to work ,travel and socialize. My whole experience with ERuDeF has indeed been  pleasure.

Being my first time in Africa, I had a few difficulties. Due to the very hot climate, I underwent  constant dehydration but I am glad I had enough water to replenish. Transportation from Dschang to Menji on a bike with the bad roads, steep tracks and difficult terrain was another challenging but exciting experience.

With my few weeks in Cameroon and in Tofala in particular, I think there is need to raise funds to solve the problem of illegal logging poaching and farmland encroachment. The government also need to acknowledge and support local organizations engaged in wildlife conservation and environmental protection.



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