Creation and monitoring of strict conservation areas in the Idanre Forest Cluster for effective Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) and forest elephant protection.
Results of a chimpanzee-focused survey we conducted in the Idanre forest cluster in 2012/2013 (see phase 1 reports) describes the biodiversity values and threats such as the dimensions of anthropogenic pressures that may lead to the extinction of chimpanzees and other significant wildlife in these forests. The report proposes a set of management recommendations that must be put in place in order to avert the local extinction of the great apes in these forests. In the week following the presentation of survey results to the Ondo State Governor in April 2013, immediate actions were taken by the government to stop illegal encroachment in the Idanre forest reserve and other measures were put in place to address the issues raised in the report. Some of the recommendations made in this report emphasizes the establishment of a conservation management landscape of about 438.7km2 in the Idanre forest cluster (180km2 in Akure-Ofosu forest reserve, 198.4km2 in Idanre forest reserve and 60.3km2 as a community conservation area(CCA) to ensure habitat corridor and connect isolated populations. As follow-up actions we are embarking on
- Further surveys to identify all chimpanzee groups present in the core areas Idanre and Akure-Ofosu Forest Reserves and establishing adequate monitoring of known chimpanzee populations and other critical wildlife species in these forests.
- The project will support government efforts in demarcating and implementing recommended strict conservation areas using upgraded GIS tools and mapping technique. Targeted surveys will seek to determine the boundaries of these core forest areas and identify forests that could serve as habitat corridors to connect sub-populations and/or to better understand potential connectivity between the strict conservation areas and adjacent reserves or forest patches for improved viability of the key populations.
- Due to the high demographic pressure, strategically sound awareness campaigns are needed to inform the people on the importance of the measures taken, thus, the project will carry out conservation education programmes within the key communities to ensure locals are aware of the demarcated conservation areas and its importance to wildlife and forest conservation.
- The evolutionary relationships of chimpanzees in southwest Nigeria still remain unresolved and though recent surveys were unable to find faecal remains of the species for needed genetic sampling, it is imperative that the project continues to focus efforts on collecting faecal and hair samples.
- This project also seeks to address some reported issues of human – wildlife conflicts such as primates and elephants raiding crops including leopard predation on livestock