|Town/Region||Akpugoeze, Edumanom Forest Reserve, Lagwa|
|Date||15 Jun 2010|
Hundreds of species and natural systems are under threat globally. Some taxonomic groups adapt better than others. Due to their life histories, primates are particularly susceptible to disturbances. The 2009 IUCN Red List classified about 50% of the 413 extant primate species as Threatened. Within Africa, Nigeria is the most populous nation and retains only a small fraction of its original forested area. Nevertheless, Nigeria is critically important for African primate diversity. The country harbours several threatened primate taxa, including Sclater’s monkey, the Niger Delta red colobus, the Cross River gorilla, and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.
The Niger Delta and Igbo-speaking states (“Igboland”) are important for rare primates and other threatened taxa. The red colobus and chimpanzee populations in the Niger Delta, for example, were unknown to science until the 1990s. This region also harbours key remaining populations of Sclater’s monkey, Nigeria’s only endemic primate species. The Niger Delta and Igboland have no official protected areas. The only regional protection conferred on wildlife is through social taboos and sacred forests. Support for research and conservation efforts is thus urgently needed. Previous research indicated a paucity of knowledge on the Niger Delta chimpanzee, as well as an urgent need to address crop-raiding behaviour of Sclater’s monkeys and raise awareness of the cultural importance of the sacred monkeys among residents in the Igbo communities where the monkeys have long existed alongside humans.
The totemic and cultural position of sacred Sclater’s monkeys should be promoted to ensure the survival of these populations. Rufford Small Grants Foundation has been a significant supporter of conservation efforts on behalf of the Sclater’s monkey; this project serves as an extension of previous research and conservation activities, as well as a new effort focused on an endangered and severely neglected chimpanzee population in the politically volatile Niger Delta.
To read about Lynne's previous work http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/projects/lynne_r_baker or for more information contact: