The Guinean rainforest is one of Africa’s most diverse ecosystems. Stretching from Guinea to Cameroon, it contains more than a quarter of African mammals, including about 20 primate species. Today it has dwindled to 15% of its original size and faces constant pressure from deforestation for logging purposes, the expansion of farmland and mining, and the bush-meat trade.
WAPCA, set up by several European zoos, works to conserve the endangered primates of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, especially Roloway’s monkeys (Cercopithecus roloway), which are classed among the world’s 25 most endangered primates, the Miss Waldron’s Bay colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni, in critical danger and perhaps even extinct) and the white-naped mangabey (Cercocebus atys lunulatus, endangered).
WAPCA Ghana works in different spheres:
– regular surveys of the forest to assess primate population numbers
– the training of local communities and staff from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana in observing primates, gathering data and opposing hunting
– the organising of educational campaigns for both schoolchildren and adults (especially village chiefs).
At the same time as its in situ activities, WAPCA Ghana has established the Endangered Primate Centre in Accra, the country’s capital, which it co-directs with Wildlife Division of Ghana. Orphaned Roloway’s monkeys and white-naped mangabeys that have been confiscated from hunters are housed in the centre and included in the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) for the species in order to maintain an overall healthy captive population that may provide individuals for reintroduction into secure reserves in future.
Meanwhile, WAPCA Ivory Coast has explored several of the country’s forests to locate populations of these species and define priority conservation zones. This research revealed that the (unprotected) Tanoé Swamp Forest, in the far south of the Ivory Coast on the border with Ghana, still had mangabey and Roloway’s monkey populations. WAPCA Ivory Coast created a community-based management committe to preserve this crucial area and organise regular awareness campaigns in villages in the region. Today, WAPCA Ivory Coast and WAPCA Ghana are developing a cross-border conservation program linking the Tanoé Swamp Forest on one side with Ghana’s Kwabre Reserve on the other (the two sites are only separated by a river).
The Zoo de La Palmyre has helped finance WAPCA since 2001.
West African Primate Conservation Action.
Credits: WAPCA Côte d'Ivoire, WAPCA Ghana.