BY: Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
The Wildlife Conservation Society has concluded a refresher ranger training course for rangers from Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Mbe Mountains, and Cross River National Park.
The training was funded by the European Union, Rainforest Trust and JRS Biodiversity Foundation.
It started from 3 November to 16 December 2021.
Recognized as a biodiversity hotspot, the forests of Cross River State are home to a number of rare and endangered wildlife including the Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, drill, forest elephant and pangolins.
Most of the forest in Cross River State is found within the Cross River National Park and adjoining protected areas including the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Afi River Forest Reserve, and the Mbe Mountains Community Forest.
However, due to weak law enforcement, these forests and valuable wildlife are declining rapidly improving the protection of these protected areas is critical to halting the decline.
Regular refresher ranger training is important to enhance ranger performance and improve park protection.
CALABAR (December 16, 2021) – Cross River State hosts about 50% of the remaining tropical rainforest in Nigeria. Recognized as a biodiversity hotspot, the forests of Cross River are home to many rare and endangered wildlife including the Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, drill, forest elephant, pangolins, and a number of rare and endemic plant species. Most of the forest in Cross River State is found within the Cross River National Park and surrounding protected areas including Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Afi River Forest Reserve, and the Mbe Mountains Community Forest.
However, these forests and important wildlife are under increasing threat from illegal logging, farm encroachment and poaching, as areas outside have been largely depleted. Improving the protection of these areas is therefore critical to halting biodiversity decline in the region, mitigating climate change and safeguarding the ecosystem services that they provide.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been collaborating with Nigeria National Park Service, Cross River State Forestry Commission, and the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains (CAMM) to strengthen the protection of the Cross River National Park, Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Mbe Mountains Community Forest. In addition to providing essential patrol equipment and logistical support to ranger teams in the field, WCS supports regular training of rangers and eco-guards to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills that they require to effectively patrol their protected areas.
From 3 November to 16 December 2021, WCS organized a refresher ranger training course at the Erokut Gate Park Entry for Cross River National Park and Cross River State Forestry Commission rangers as well as CAMM eco-guards. The training was conducted by the South Africa based specialist ranger training company “Conservation Outcomes” that has previously trained rangers in Cross River State and in Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State. The training covered physical fitness, first aid, patrol techniques, drill, discipline, human rights and self-defence. The training lasted a total of 42 days and was divided into two courses, each lasting 21 days.
“Thirty rangers drawn from Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Mbe Mountains, and Cross River National participated in each course (total number of rangers trained = 60). The training was funded by the European Union, Rainforest Trust and JRS Biodiversity Foundation.”
In addition to increasing their knowledge and skills, the refresher training has raised morale among the rangers who are also motivated to perform their duties and better protect forest and wildlife at their sites.
WCS is planning additional training for 60 rangers from Cross River National Park in January 2022.
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. WCS work in 60 countries across the globe to support conservation with local, national, and international stakeholders. WCS is undertaking management and conservation of a network of key protected area strongholds across the Central Africa & Gulf of Guinea Region. With its country office based in Calabar, WCS has been working in Nigeria since 2001, and currently supports the conservation of four protected areas in Cross River State and the Yankari Wildlife Reserve in Bauchi State.