Gorilla conservation in Cameroon


This video says about itself:

16 December 2009

This clip is the first professional video of the elusive and highly endangered Cross River gorilla. It is the world’s rarest great ape, numbering fewer than 300 individuals along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon.

From Wildlife Extra:

Gorillas benefit from new protection in Cameroon

Critically endangered Cross River Gorillas will be receiving much-needed additional protection in Cameroon with the creation of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in the southwest of the country.

The decree to officially create the sanctuary was signed by the Prime Minister of Cameroon, and will be the third such reserve in the country to protect the dwindling habitat of the Cross River Gorilla.

The gorillas in this region were only discovered relatively recently in the early 20th century, but following the Nigerian conflict during the 1960s it was feared that they had become a casualty of war and had become extinct. It was only during the 1980s that small groups of the Cross River Gorilla were rediscovered.

But their numbers in the wild have remained low in spite of conservation efforts. Living in the region of the Cross River, which flows from Cameroon to Nigeria and passes through rainforest, their habitat has become restricted to rugged highland areas where hunting pressure is lower.

Furthermore, the great apes’ habitat is surrounded by some of Africa’s most densely populated human settlements, and is become increasingly fragmented.

In order to tackle these threats to the gorilla, two reserves were set up by the Cameroon Government: the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary and Takamanda National Park. The addition of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary marks a further move in the right direction for the protection of the Cross River Gorilla.

Prior to the decree to create the sanctuary, the forest was under communal forest laws, which allowed land to be converted for use for anything other than forestry. Organisation Flora and Fauna International have been working toward the protection of the gorillas in the forest since 2004, and understand that the creation of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary will impact upon local communities, so will be involving them in the sanctuary design and helping them to find sustainable ways to earn a living.

… read more about the plight of the Cross River Gorilla here.

Blind African refugee beaten up in Britain


This video from England says about itself:

Who killed Jimmy Mubenga? Protest outside G4S AGM, London 6 June 2013

By Ryan Fletcher in Britain:

Friday 11th April 2014

A disabled asylum-seeker told the Star yesterday that he was beaten by staff tasked to deliver him to Heathrow airport for deportation.

Alain Kouayep Tchatchue was delivered to Heathrow early on Saturday from nearby Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

Visually impaired Mr Tchatchue claimed that when he refused to board a flight to Cameroon, from which he fled because he is bisexual, he was attacked.

He alleged that the two staff responsible for taking him to the airport dragged him back to the transportation van, punched him repeatedly in the ribs and then left him in the van for over three hours with his hands and feet tied.

Mr Tchatchue claimed that the two staff told him “they were just doing their job.”

Speaking to the Star from the detention centre yesterday, he said: “I couldn’t see properly and was screaming ‘please help me.’

“They tied my feet together and handcuffed me. I could feel them putting pressure on my neck.

“They untied my feet after three hours but I was handcuffed for over four.”

Eventually Mr Tchatchue was returned to the detention centre after it was decided he was too ill to travel.

He has subsequently put in a complaint to the police, but said he was still suffering with mobility problems in his shoulder for which he has needed painkillers all week.

He told the Star: “I am very scared and upset. Even now I can’t sleep. This is a very difficult time in my life.”

Mr Tchatchue fled Cameroon after having a relationship with a man and said that reports about his sexuality had appeared in the local press there and he would be in danger if he was deported.

Manchester Metropolitan Church pastor Andy Braunston has been campaigning on Mr Tchatchue’s behalf.

He said: “Alain is a blind man who uses a white stick to get around and who has fled here because of fear of the violence of the state in Cameroon.”

The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office were unavailable for comment.

Britain: We musn’t lose the gains made by black workers over the last decade in an austerity-led backlash, says GLORIA MILLS: here.

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African frog research


From QUEST in the USA:

Captive Breeding Program May Ensure Survival for African Frogs

Post by for on Aug 23, 2013

Click PLAY to hear mating calls from Cameroonian frogs in quarantine at Cal Academy: here.

On a recent June evening, herpetologist David Blackburn of the California Academy of Sciences was knee-deep in a west African lake hoping to capture a critically endangered frog.

In the cold, clear water of Cameroon’s Lake Oku, hundreds of brown and gray frogs with webbed feet were paddling around looking for food.

The Lake Oku clawed frog, found nowhere else but in this lake, is like other frogs across the globe that are fighting for survival.

Thousands of frog species worldwide are losing habitat due to deforestation and an amphibian disease caused by a type of fungus called “chytrid fungus.” The fungus grows on the frogs’ skin and causes sloughing skin and extreme lethargy. The changes to the frogs’ skin can be deadly, because frogs absorb water, salts and other nutrients through their skin.

More than a third of the world’s amphibians are threatened with extinction. The disease is a leading cause of frog population declines worldwide.

Researcher Rebecca Tarvin joined Blackburn's team to collect novel data on African frogs' secretions to determine whether they have chemical defenses in their skins

Researcher Rebecca Tarvin joined Blackburn’s team to collect novel data on African frogs’ secretions to determine whether they have chemical defenses in their skins

“Frogs are the canaries in the coal mine,” said Tom Smith, director of the Center for Tropical Research at the University of California – Los Angeles. “They tell us about the health of ecosystems like no other organism. When their populations decline it’s time to pay attention because what is affecting frogs may ultimately affect us.”

As part of an expedition to the mountains of northern Cameroon this summer, Blackburn led a group of students and colleagues to collect the clawed frog and other species.

The researchers hoped the fragile amphibians would survive the 10,000-mile journey back to San Francisco where the team will breed the species in captivity at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

By breeding the amphibians and learning about the frogs’ biology and reproduction habits, Blackburn and his team expect to gain key insights that could help save the frogs – and other species like them – in the future.

“We know so little about some of these species,” Blackburn said. “We’d like to figure out what it would take to be able to breed these frogs in captivity should they suddenly become under serious threat in the only place they’re known to occur.”

If an invasive species or predator entered the lake, it would be difficult for scientists to save the frogs because they don’t fully understand their lifecycle and what they need in order to survive.

Blackburn and his team took video of their expedition. As he knelt close to the water and bagged 25 frogs, he said, “the clock started ticking.”

“Once they are out of the lake, we want them back at the Academy in clean and cool water as soon as possible.”

Bamboutos camp

While Blackburn’s team surveyed frogs in the highlands of Cameroon, they camped in the Bamboutos Mountains, a region with several endemic frog species.

In addition to the clawed frog, Blackburn and his colleagues also collected four other species: Riggenbach’s Reed Frog, Bamenda Reed Frog, Rio Benito Long-fingered Frog and the Black Long-fingered Frog.

Three of the species they brought back, including the clawed frogs, are considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The tiny frogs, which are roughly the size of a quarter, were fed a diet of fish or termites before they were placed in a box aboard an international flight bound for San Francisco.

“In some cases, we had the frogs for two weeks before we traveled back so we had to feed them in the field,” said Cal Academy Senior Biologist Brian Freiermuth. “One of the things we actually did was use termites; we found nests and could break them open and feed the frogs. Termites are actually really high in fat so it’s good if you want to fatten up an animal.”

After more than 30 hours in transit, 54 of the 56 captured frogs survived and now sit in quarantine at the California Academy of Sciences.

About 60 percent of the frogs tested positive for chytrid fungus, which Blackburn said he expected based on his studies of the same species in 2011.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me to find [the fungus] in the frogs that we brought back,” Blackburn said. “It just reiterates why our work is so important.”

From late August to early September, the frogs will be treated with a fungicide that will work to clear the disease. After that, Blackburn and his team will begin breeding these species as Academy staff build an exhibit in the facility’s aquarium so the public can finally meet the frogs.

“One huge part of our goal was public awareness,” Blackburn said. “We really can’t conserve what we don’t know. I’m excited that we can celebrate biodiversity at the Academy’s aquarium. That diversity is threatened and it’s exactly what we’re hoping to conserve.”

Wildlife crime whistleblower gets WWF medal


This video from Kenya says about itself:

Live Operation on Poached Elephant in Galana Ranch, May 2011

Live commentary of Dr Paula Kahumbu on Kenya Wildlife Services veterinarians on site at an ultra delicate surgical operation on a shot elephant in Galana Ranch.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife crime whistleblower wins top WWF honour

Champion wildlife crime opponent awarded top WWF honours

October 2012. Ofir Drori, a tireless anti-corruption whistleblower and law enforcement activist working on the frontlines of endangered wildlife protection in West and Central Africa, has been awarded the 2012 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal.

Congratulations to Mr Drori and his much-needed fight against wildlife crime!

However, it is a problem that this medal is called after the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Prince Consort of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Prince Philip is a vocal fox hunting supporter. As the medal is for work in Africa, Prince Philip’s racist remarks are hardly appropriate.

The WWF in Spain decided to strip the elephant-shooting King of Spain of his honorary chairmanship. How about Britain?

I am not the only person with this kind of objections to the medal’s name, as we will see.

Israeli educator, photojournalist and activist Drori, 36, arrived in Cameroon a decade ago where he founded the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), the first wildlife law enforcement non-governmental organization in Africa. Within seven months, LAGA had brought about Cameroon’s first wildlife crime prosecution, providing a model that is now being replicated in West and Central Africa. Drori is also founder-director of the Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network.

“I am delighted to accept the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal – a great honour that will truly support our work to fight wildlife crime in West and Central Africa and beyond,” Ofir Drori said. “I hope this award also inspires a shift to a more activist approach and bolsters the fight against corruption in our quest to save wildlife – while there are still magnificent elephants and other animals left to save.”

Promoting wildlife law enforcement by combating corruption at all levels, LAGA enabled a shift in Cameroon’s judicial system resulting in arrests and prosecution of major wildlife criminals. The LAGA anti-corruption success story has been replicated in West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defence of human rights.

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade in wildlife have escalated dramatically in recent years and are now the greatest threats to many of WWF’s flagship species. Ofir Drori’s efforts have resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions across West and Central Africa, and helped propagate a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon.

“It is thanks to people like Ofir Drori that we still have a hope of keeping vulnerable elephant and other wildlife populations thriving – and keeping a spotlight on the poaching crisis that threatens them. I applaud his bold and impactful work,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “WWF urges world governments to crack down on wildlife poaching and illegal trade as a matter of urgency.”

WWF is taking action to combat wildlife crime and works with countries where poaching occurs, where illegal trade transits and in consumer countries to stop wildlife crime – by strengthening law enforcement, combating corruption, getting illegal wildlife trade recognised as a serious crime, and reducing demand for endangered species products.

The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment. Ofir Drori joins a long line of conservation leaders to receive the award – including the 2011 winner, Dr Ashok Khosla, one of the world’s foremost sustainable development experts. Mr. Drori receives his award today in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

A comment on this on the Wildlife Extra site says:

what a great shame that philip d.o.e. [Duke of Edinburgh] and his family of hunt supporters will never measure up to this young man with his genuine concern for wildlife protection

Posted by: dee donworth | 06 Nov 2012 13:08:55