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Conserving the remnant populations of the Critically Endangered Niger Delta Red Colobus Monkey

Systematic surveys conducted within the Niger Delta swamp forest zone during the 1990s provided evidence of important populations of the distinct Niger Delta red colobus monkey (Procolobus epieni) confined to an area of about 1,500km2. This geographically isolated monkey was only discovered in 1993 and has been classified as one of the world’s 25 most endangered primate vulnerable to various forms of anthropogenic pressures including commercial bushmeat hunting, logging and agriculture which constitutes the main threats to red colobus monkeys and their forest habitats in west and central Africa. Within the epeini range, other vulnerable primate populations exist including the endemic Sclater’s guenon (Cercopithecus sclateri), the Nigerian white throated guenon (Cercopithecus erythrogaster pococki), the red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus) and perhaps populations of the endangered Nigerian – Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti). Yet, there are no effectively protected area and much uncertainty remains as to the current population status, local distribution and direct threats facing this distinct species of red colobus monkey.

Through carrying out critical research, this project aims to close critical information gaps on the species’ remnant population, distribution (geographic map of species location within their range) and human-related threats such as the degree of its habitat loss and proportion of their representation in bushmeat. Data from this survey are vital to designing strategic conservation plans to protect and ensure the continued survival of the species in their natural habitat. The project’s significance lies in providing better understanding of the population status on the critically endangered primate species and to understand threat factors affecting their distribution and continued survival in order to ensure effective conservation and help stakeholders to monitor changes resulting from anthropogenic activities and climate change. This project will generate information expedient to make valid arguments for establishing conservation priority sites in this highly biologically and economically important landscape.

Our project is also working closely with stakeholders at the community-level, State and Federal Government level to demarcate areas of local priorities (for sustainable use) and habitats for species conservation priorities and strict protection. We are also working with policy makers and local people involving also companies deriving economic benefits so that the results will be incorporated into policies. This will ensure the protection of remnant populations of the red colobus monkeys and other key wildlife that share their range. We project is working on the premise that continued deforestation and impending species extinction can be stopped if effective protected areas are designed with sustainably utilized linkage areas and buffer zones. These solutions are urgently necessary for conservation of not only the red colobus but also their habitat, and for local people that depend on the full functioning of ecosystem for their livelihood.

(Click here to find out how you can particpate in this project) let this link to the support page and then upload the epieni-brochure here.