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Cameroon Programme

- Dja - Green Caps

Geographical location

Northern edge of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, 8 villages on the forest edge.

Target groups

Groups of villagers using forest resources, hunters and consumers of bushmeat, groups of women, children.

Species involved

Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Partner NGO

Antwerp Zoo, Projet Grands Singes

Objectives

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Reduce human pressure on the Dja Biosphere Reserve, to benefit gorillas and other species sharing the ecosystem.

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Develop sustainable alternatives to the use of natural resources and the hunting and consumption of bushmeat.

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Raise community awareness about the importance of conserving the gorilla habitat and about sustainable development.

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Encourage younger villagers to take actions to safeguard and preserve their natural heritage.

Programme timeline

April 2012

Programme creation

Hiring of Donald, our coordinator

September 2014

Education restarts

Opening of the Jean-Marc Vichard School

November 2015

Research is underway

Implementation of a socio-economic study

Context

The vast Dja Biosphere Reserve is Cameroon’s largest protected zone (5 260 km²). This is a UNESCO world heritage site and protects one of the largest forests in central Africa. It is home to gorillas, chimpanzees, panthers and elephants as well as more than 1 200 plant species, 429 species of birds and 60 species of fish. The villagers in our project area are very poor and highly dependant on resources collected from the forests to meet their basic needs, including hunting the endangered animals for their meat. Heavy human pressure is threatening the survival of this ecosystem and its exceptional biodiversity.

Education as a springboard to conservation

Launched in 2012, this programme started with the construction of a school in the region where there had been none for several years. The building process required significant time and effort due to its geographical location in a hard-to-reach site – an hour by foot from the last village accessible by car. The Jean-Marc Vichard School opened its doors to local children in September 2014. Educating village youngsters helps insure that they will have choices other than putting additional pressure on forest resources and further degrading the natural habitat of the gorilla, that they can choose to adopt practices that work in harmony with their environment.

Our recent actions in the field

  • Collection of local socio-economic data to help plan sustainable, income-generating activities that reduce reliance on natural resources.

  • Partnership with OneMillionLights, to equip schoolchildren with solar lamps allowing them to work into the evening;

  • First phase of construction of a kilometre-long forest path, destined to be used for educational walks;

  • Creation of the Gorilla Club, designed to provide awareness-raising activities for children and adults (story-reading, games, films, theatre…);

  • Launch of a volunteering programme for Gorilla Club teaching activities;

  • Inauguration of the Jean-Marc Vichard School and Environmental Education Centre, welcoming each day 70 students between ages 5 to 16;

More actions

Together let's develop the alternatives the use of bushmeat and of naturals resources within the gorilla habitat.
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