Grand Tour of Calabar, CROSS RIVER STATE (Part 2)

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Did you know that South-eastern Nigeria has the highest number of primate species in the entire African continent? And that these species are slowly becoming extinct due primarily to poaching and the effects of deforestation?

Did you know that Cross River State has the highest diversity of primates recorded anywhere in Africa (18 species) including the critically endangered Cross River gorilla and the most endangered of the chimpanzee species?

Did you know that Cross River State also has the highest density of butterfly species in Africa (more than 1000 species!)?

How blessed we are as a nation and how unfortunate that we are not doing more to preserve these God-given gifts!

I decided to dedicate a post to the work of two great non-profit organizations doing amazing work of documenting and preserving these species in Cross River State. For the most part, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Pandrillus

You can find out all about Pandrillus and their work here.

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These chimpanzees were so playful! At one point, they’d throw their meals (moin moin – bean cakes) at us and we’d all have to scatter! The chimps found it so exciting, they kept repeating it over and over again.

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Drill Monkeys

So I knew nothing about drill monkeys before I visited Calabar and Pandrillus.

The drill is a short-tailed monkey up to 70 cm (28 in) long, similar in appearance to the mandrill, but lacks the bright blue and red on the face of that species. It has high sexual dimorphism in weight, with males weighing up to 50 kg (110 lb) and females up to 12.5 kg (27.5 lb). Their body is overall a dark grey-brown. Mature males have a pink lower lip and white chin on a dark grey to black face with raised grooves on the nose. The rump is pink, mauve and blue. Female drills lack the pink chin.

A dominant male leads a multi-male multi-female group of 20-30, and is father to most of the young. This group may join others, forming super groups of over 100 individuals. They are semi-nomadic seasonally, and will often rub their chests onto trees to mark their territory. They are semi-terrestrial, foraging mainly on the ground, but climbing trees to sleep at night. The females give birth to a single baby although twins have been recorded once at Pandrillus. Longevity is up to 28 years.

Their diet is primarily frugivorous, taking a wide range of fruit, but they also eat herbs, roots, eggs, insects, and small mammals on occasion. Drills are found only in Cross River State (Nigeria), southwestern Cameroon (south to the Sanaga River), and on Bioko Island (Equatorial Guinea). (source)

Drill monkeys are among African’s most endangered species and if you can, please visit this site and support them if you can!

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Bambi! I was surprised that we had deer native to Nigeria. Apparently there are two deer species (one spotted and more like the familiar North American deer and the other much smaller and non-spotted) in rain forests of Cross River State and I was lucky enough to get to see samples from both species.

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Crocodile. This crocodile definitely did not like being disturbed and he made that quite clear! But I touched its scaly skin, okay barely touched sha! 🙂

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Cercopan

CERCOPAN was founded in 1995, by Canadian Zena Tooze (yay Canada!). The name CERCOPAN was  given  to  the organization to reflect the species held at the rehabilitation centre (CERCO for both Cercopithecus and Cercocebus and PAN the Greek word for all). In 2003, the organization changed its name to ‘Centre for Education, Research, and Conservation of Primates and Nature’ (retaining CERCOPAN as an acronym) to more accurately reflect its activities and focus.

You can find out more about Cercopan and their work here.

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Please click on the next two pictures below to learn more about primates and the dangers they face (hunting and predation).

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Guenons at Cercopan.

Guenons are old world forest monkeys native to sub-saharan African, with a particularly high concentration in the South-eastern Nigeria. Guenons, the largest group of African primates, are very colorful. Their color is used in intraspecific communication for recognizing individuals, species, and potential mates.

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It is a shame that we (Nigerians) do not seem to be interested in conservation and preservation of our fellow animals. Most conservation efforts I have seen in Nigeria have been started and led by expatriates. I know that most Nigerians are preoccupied with basic survival, but somehow – I am unsure how – we need to dedicate more effort and resource to preserving the other treasures in our environment.

All that said, I really had a great time learning about all the drill monkeys, guenons and chimpanzees native to my country. Next time, you are in Calabar, please go visit and support either one or both of these wonderful organizations. And tell them you heard about them from me! 🙂

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