San Diego Zoo Global’s Ebo Forest Research Project
The SDZG-EFRP was set up following the observation of gorillas for the first time in the Ebo forest by a SDZG team in 2002. The gorillas of the Ebo forest are geographically intermediate between the western lowland and Cross River gorillas, and to date, their taxonomic affinity is still undefined. The overall goal of the SDZG-EFRP is to secure the population of gorillas, chimpanzees and other endangered primates of the Ebo forest for posterity. Since 2005 SZZG-EFRP have been pursuing this goal through active research within the forest and permanent, on-the-ground conservation activities in communities around the forest, in conjunction with multiple stakeholders in the Ebo region. Many small villages surround the Ebo forest and depend on hunting and bushmeat trade for protein and income. SDZG-EFRP have been sensitising these communities on the importance of biodiversity conservation for posterity and the need to engage in more sustainable economic activities like agriculture, livestock breeding or commerce.
Club des Amis des Gorilles (Gorilla Guardian Clubs): These clubs operate in Iboti, Logndeng and Lognanga that are closest to the small population of Ebo gorillas. The clubs aim at protecting the gorillas and their habitats. They do this by monthly monitoring in the gorilla habitat – noting/mapping gorilla and other large mammal signs as well as human threats. Eventually the resultant map from the monitoring activities will lead to the declaration of a no-go zone for humans in the gorilla range with the support of traditional and administrative authorities. The clubs also engage in alternative sustainable activities geared at improving members’ living conditions and reduce their reliance on hunting and bushmeat trade.
Vegetable garden project: This project is aimed at improving and diversifying the diet of local communities especially the consumption of non-animal proteins – thus reducing hunting. With technical input from agricultural extension workers, SDZG-EFRP is helping and encouraging women in Mosse, Iboti, Logndeng and Ndokbanguengue to engage in the cultivation of cabbages, carrots, beans, soya beans, green beans, okra, tomatoes and other vegetables.
Cocoa nurseries: In Iboti and Logndeng villages where many hunters and ex-hunters expressed the wish to rehabilitate existing or create new cocoa plantations, to stem income from bushmeat trade, SDZG-EFRP provided improved cocoa pods to farmer groups. These were nursed and later transplanted into each member’s farm.
Piggeries: In Iboti and Logndeng villages, SDZG-EFRP provided two community groups with a starting stock of four piglets (3 females and 1 male) each. The idea is to encourage communities to generate income and protein and thus reduce dependence on the forest.