Photos and profiles of each of the species.
Although all chimpanzee are Endangered, the Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzee Pan troglodytes ellioti(Gray, 1862) is considered the most endangered of all currently known chimpanzee subspecies (Morgan et al 2011) and is the most range-restricted, surviving only in forested habitats in southern Nigeria to western Cameroon, north of the Sanagariver.It is also the most recently recognized subspecies of the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and it has been estimated that there may be as few as 3,500 individuals living in the wild. Its range overlaps a region of some of the highest human population density in tropical Africa, particularly in south-western Nigeria. The Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzee has a fragmented distribution across its range due to high levels of exploitation, loss of habitat and habitat quality resulting from expanding human activities, this subspecies is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in the past 20 to 30 years (Oates et al 2008a). The causes of the reduction, although largely understood, have certainly not ceased and are not easily reversible (Oates et al 2008a). P.t.elliotias other chimpanzee subspecies are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species (i.e. species having a very high risk of extinction) and under Appendix I of CITES (i.e. trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances) and as Class A under the African Convention (i.e. species that shall be totally protected throughout the entire territory of the Contracting States).
The Niger Delta red colobus monkey is confined to an area of about 1,500km2 in Nigeria’s oil rich delta and vulnerable to various escalating anthropogenic pressures including commercial bushmeat hunting, and habitat loss/degradation from logging and oil exploration, this species is at the precipice of extinction.Within the Niger Delta there are no effective protected areas, and little is known about the current population status of this endemic primate. Moreover, in the Niger Delta, poorly regulated oil extractive activities have devastated the environment for over 50 years and the ensuing civil conflicts in the last decade impeded research and conservation efforts in the region.
Forest elephants (Loxondonta Africana cyclotis) are one of two subspecies of the African elephant (Loxondonta Africana) inhabiting forest habitats across West and Central Africa. Forest elephants have been reported to travel more than 772 square miles thereby requiring a large range to thrive. Classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, African elephant populations have depleted over the years owing to burgeoning trend of ivory poaching and trade across their range. Large forest elephant populations are now primarily found in Central Africa with some relict populations remaining in some parts of West Africa especially Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Forest elephants, once widespread across Nigerian forests have become extinct in many forest areas placing the remnant fragile population at high risk of total extirpation. As human populations increases rapidly, the elephant range is constantly being broken up into small fragments traversed by roads, human settlement and infrastructures bringing elephants into conflict with humans. Furthermore, Nigeria has been identified as one of three countries most heavily implicated in the global illicit ivory trade as sources, routes and consumers of ivory and related products. Presently, very few forest areas still contain elephants and even these small populations come under intense attack from poachers. In some of our project sites, important elephant populations still survive and we are committing credible efforts to these vulnerable giants.
Leopard, African golden cat, serval cat, African civet, forest genet —carnivores like these are crucial to the ecosystem functioning of the forest environment. Although, they have a reputation for ferocity and represent terror for many people, these species of the forests are increasingly vulnerable. The larger species such as the leopard are even more imperiled when forests have been encroached; being at the top of the food chain, prey availability which represents bush meat for humans is a major determinant of the species survival, thus when these large carnivore’s prey base are competitively exploited by humans, they will gradually diminish until they disappear completely from the area. Many carnivore species are ill equipped to survive in landscapes dominated by people. Similarly, their habitats are increasingly fragmented, separated into islands that isolate their populations and as such jeopardize their chances of long-term survival. As apex predators, these animals are also crucial for ecological balance, and their loss would resonate across entire ecosystems. Our project works from the sideline collecting data on carnivores’ presence/absence and distributional information in order to monitor their populations, understand direct threats, and resolve conflicts between carnivores and humans. Most importantly, we hope that in designing conservation landscapes in the sites where we work, the spatial needs of these carnivores will be taken into consideration so as to establish a balanced ecological landscape.
The African Grey Parrot (Psittacuserithacus) is found in much of the forests of West and Central Africa. They feed primarily on palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leaves. Their overall gentle nature and their inclination and ability to mimic speech have made them popular pets, which have led many to be captured from the wild and sold into the pet trade. Just like the ivory trade, the pet trade is driving parrots into extinction across their range. The African Grey Parrot is listed on CITES Appendix II, which restricts trade of wild-caught species and is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. By enhancing protection for the forests where these parrots live, we are working to stop the continued capture and exploitation of this iconic bird.
Crocodiles, Sea Turtles and Giant Snakes – conservationists have focused efforts on charismatic big animals such as elephants and great apes with little attention to vast numbers of insects, plants and other creatures. No less significant to ecological balance are reptiles; varied species of reptiles makes up more than half of forest animal species. Reptiles are important components of the food webs in most ecosystems and are particularly influential in modifying their habitat and in most cases are reliable indicators of habitat changes. Top predators such as crocodiles and pythons represent some of the keystone species found in forests
Listed as near threatened on the IUCN red list of threatened species, the Milicia excelsa commonly known as iroko or African Teak) is a tree species found in much of tropical Africa. The irokois a large deciduous tree growing to 50 metres (160 ft) high. The trunk is bare lower down with the first branch usually at least 20 metres (66 ft) above the ground. The tree is not only important economically as timber but has remained a major object of reverence culturally by the Yoruba people in southwestern Nigeria. The tree can be used in the control of erosion and the tree is also used in herbal medicine. It grows rapidly, can be coppiced and is ready for cutting after about fifty years. However, the tree is highly threatened in most of its area of distribution chiefly by habitat loss from excessive logging and land clearing for farmlands.
The Hallealedermannii commonly called ‘Abura’, a forest tree species restricted to swampy areas, rivers and also coastal regions. The tree is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species due to overexploitation mostly for timber. A gregarious, fairly soft-wooded tree of swampy areas in the evergreen and deciduous forest zone; can grow into a tree of 35 m and 100 cm. One of the important reasons it is a focus species of this project is because of its importance to the survival of the critically endangered red colobus monkey. Research studies suggest that that the more clumped distribution of food species in the marsh forest was a key factor restricting the monkey to its limited range.