To address the illegal, commercial bushmeat trade in Cameroon
One of the consequences of the illegal bushmeat trade in Cameroon is the number of orphaned animals that are deemed unsuitable for the bushmeat market or more likely to make a profit through the pet trade; these are mainly young western lowland gorillas or central African chimpanzees. Some of these orphans are confiscated by law enforcement agencies. Apes Action Africa (AAA, formerly known as "Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund - CWAF") and the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF) provide sanctuaries to house the confiscated primates at two sites.
Bristol Zoo have been working with AAA since 1998, firstly on the re-development of Mvog Betsi Zoo (‘MBZ', Yaoundé) as a primate sanctuary and centre of excellence for conservation education, and since 2000 with the development of the Mefou National Park, (‘MNP', near Mfou), as a primate sanctuary and centre for outreach activities. Mefou National Park now houses the largest number of sanctuary-held gorillas in Africa.
MNP offers the opportunity for visitors to see apes and other primates in conditions that are close to the conditions in the wild (the animals are housed in very large enclosed areas of secondary rainforest). This enables the project to highlight the issue of the trade. MNP is close to Yaoundé and is therefore a popular destination for influential visitors and visiting dignitaries.
Discussions are taking place between the three ape sanctuaries in Cameron and BCSF for the reintroduction of central African chimpanzees back into the wild.
The conservation education programme utilises the information gained through another BCSF project, the Dja Periphery Community Engagement Project, to enable the ‘voice of the people' to be heard via MBZ and MNP.
The goals of the project are to help address the illegal commercial bushmeat trade in Cameroon through:
- Providing areas where animals, confiscated by the government and non-governmental law enforcement agencies, can be safely housed and cared for.
- Undertaking conservation education programmes at Mvog Betsi Zoo (formal and informal sessions to schoolchildren and visitors to the zoo), at Mefou National Park, and via an outreach programme to schools and villages in Centre Province.
- Undertaking behavioural (and other relevant) research to support any proposed re-introduction programme for confiscated animals held at MBZ and/or MNP and to gain a greater understanding into the issues affecting Cameroon's primates.
- Providing first class animal husbandry, including veterinary expertise, so that confiscated animals are kept in an optimum condition.
WAZA Conservation Project 09002 is implemented by the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (Bristol Zoo) and Ape Action Africa (AAA), and is supported by the Givskud Zoo, Chessington Zoo, Twycross Zoo, the US Embassy, the British High Commission, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Great Ape Fund), the Israeli High Commission, and DMS Ltd.
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