INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERING PROGRAMME
INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERING PROGRAMME
In response to a need for a constant bio-monitoring of great apes in the area, the International volunteering program (IVP) was started in 2008. Through this we recruited volunteers and together ensure that a quarterly bio-monitoring is done. The main activities included, great apes bio-monitoring and conservation education. Since inception, volunteers have come from Canada, UK, USA, Australia, Netherlands, France, and Germany. The program usually runs during the months of January, April, July and November. The program cuts across four or two weeks depending on the choice of the volunteers. As of 2011 the main forest landscape visited has been Bechati, Besali, Andu, Bokwa and Fossemondi. The IVP has received more than 50 volunteers since 2008.
From January 2012 the IVP changed phase and broaden its scope to support the main goal of ERuDeF. We now recruit volunteers on a monthly base and have included other volunteering expedition. ERuDeF is responsible to provide a letter of invitation to these volunteers prior to their arrival in Cameroon. Each volunteer is picked up at the Douala international air port or any other venue indicated by the volunteer. Volunteers are lodged in a Hotel in Buea for at least two days prior to departure to the field and two on their return from the field. An orientation meeting is always fixed for the day prior to departure to the field. During this orientation every departmental head at ERuDeF presents the functions of his/her department, which includes: the background, objective, activities, challenges and recommendations. The main activities on the field are: great apes bio-monitoring in the forest and conservation education at the forest adjacent communities. On their return from the field, an evaluation meeting is organized with the volunteer at the ERuDeF head quarters in Buea. The program ends with a visit at the Limbe wildlife centre and a sea fish lunch at the beach.
To improve on the long-term sustainable management of biodiversity in Cameroon.
- Great apes Bio-monitoring
- Conservation education
- Tree planting
- Socio-Economics/community development.
- Bird watching and identification.
- To liaise with present/future volunteer recruiting partners to help improve the number of volunteers at ERuDeF.
- To improve on the management of past volunteers
- To plan, implement and manage each IVP expedition
- Making Lebialem a touristic destination
The programme is carried out in close collaboration with the African Conservation Foundation (ACF), Global Vision International (GVI), and African Impact (AI) (international volunteer recruitment).
Cross River Gorilla expedition
The Cross River Gorilla expedition initiated at ERuDeF in 2008 is designed to support its Western Cameroon Great Apes Research and Conservation Program. It provides the international participants the opportunity to have a firsthand experience in tropical wildlife conservation with focus on Lebialem Highlands in South West Cameroon. The program brings together international volunteers into Cameroon on a regular basis to track Cross River gorillas and support great apes conservation.
The IVP has three main components namely:
- Gorilla tracking; during tracking, camps are set up in the forest and tracking teams are composed. Depending on the size of the forest, about two to three camps may be set up. Key observations during tracking include sighting of nesting signs, direct sighting of apes, vocalization, feeding signs and tracks.
- Conservation education; this is conducted in schools and communities. During the school session, children are taught the ecology of great ape, their importance, habitat needs, and the role of children in protecting apes. Contests are also organised like drawing of gorillas, chimps etc. Prizes are awarded. The community education is focused on similar topics and the importance of gorillas and chimps to the economy of the local people.
- Socio-Economics/Community development; assist communities in identifying and developing community projects as well as preparing short projects for possible partners in the different countries from which volunteers come.
CROSS RIVER GORILLA AND NIGERIA-CAMEROON CHIMPANZEE CONSERVATION PROJECT
Location and brief overview: The project takes place in the Lebialem Highlands, in South West Cameroon – an area rich in wildlife and home to a number of endangered species, including Chimpanzees, Drills and various endemic bird and plant species. The area is home to the Cross River Gorilla, believed to be the most threatened of all of Africa’s primates and one of the world’s 25 most endangered wildlife species with only about 300 left in the wild today.
Volunteers will be trekking and camping in the forest recording information on the wildlife in the area. As an adaptation against predation (hunting), the gorillas and chimps shy away from humans and are very elusive. However, it is still very common to hear vocalisations at close ranges and to find fresh and old tracks.
There is also a range of other species found in the forest, which include various monkey species, porcupine, cane rats, deer, bush dogs, bush cats, antelope, bush pigs, bush babies, blue duiker, elephant, sitatunga and drills.
The areas you will be working in are extremely remote villages and dense forest areas of Cameroon.
Age Limit: Volunteers between the ages of 20 and 70 are welcome to join – as long as they are fit and healthy and aware of the extreme conditions of the project.
Required Experience: No specific required experience necessary, just a keen interest in wildlife and conservation is important. Volunteers must be very fit and prepared to trek through harsh environments with extreme temperatures that can make things very physically demanding.
Project Highlights and Aims:
• Gorilla tracking – during your placement you will be trekking through and camping in the forest to record observations, including information about nesting signs, direct sightings of apes, vocalization, feeding signs and tracks.
• Conservation education is conducted in the local schools and communities. Children are taught the ecology of the great ape, their importance, habitat needs and the importance of conserving the great apes. Contests for the children are organised and prizes awarded. The community education is focused on similar topics including the importance of gorillas and chimps to the economy of the local community.
• Help to develop priorities and strategies for addressing relevant rural and environmental issues
• Assist with providing the local communities with the means to efficiently manage their natural resources and to alleviate poverty
• Help to develop successful and / or potentially successful strategies for mobilizing communities and people to conserve their natural resources
• To promote women’s role in conservation and development through training and support of women programs
• To combat against deforestation, land degradation and desertification
• To promote alternative sustainable development strategies in rural areas including development of alternative models of rural financing.
• To promote advocacy, education, training and information programmes that increase people’s awareness of environmental problems as well as human issues (e.g. environmental health, HIV/AIDS) affecting environmental management and their remedies.
Dates: The start dates for both the 15 day and the 30 day project are on the second Sunday of each month.
15 day project dates:
11th September 2011 – 25th September 2011
9th October2011 – 23rd October 2011
13th November 2011 – 27th November 2011
11th December 2011 – 25th December 2011
8th January 2012 – 22nd January 2012
12th February 2012 – 26th February 2012
11th March 2012 – 25th March 2012
8th April 2012 – 22nd April 2012
13th May 2012 – 27th May 2012
10th June 2012 – 24th June 2012
8th July 2012 – 22nd July 2012
12th August 2012 – 26th August 2012
9th September 2012 – 23rd September 2012
14th October 2012 – 28th October 2012
11th November 2012 – 25th November 2012
9th December 2012 – 23rd December 2012
30 day project dates:
11th September 2011 – 10th October 2011
9th October 2011 – 9th November 2011
13th November 2011 – 12th December 2011
8th January 2012 – 6th February 2012
12th February 2012 – 12th March 2012
11th March 2012 – 9th April 2012
8th April 2012 – 7th May 2012
13th May 2012 – 11th June 2012
10th June 2012 – 9th July 2012
8th July 2012 – 6th August 2012
12th August 2012 – 10th September 2012
9th September 2012 – 8th October 2012
14th October 2012 – 12th November 2012
11th November 2012 – 10th December 2012
Capacity: Maximum of 8 volunteers plus staff
Accommodation and food and all transport whilst on the project. Field guides and porters whilst trekking in the forest. Limbe wildlife centre gate fee.
Flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, pre and post tour accommodation, items of a personal nature, soft drinks and beers, extra activities, 4 x dinners whilst in town
Accommodation: whilst in town, volunteers will have a hotel room with a bed, bath and television. In the local communities, you will be staying in very basic housing amongst the local community. In the forest, you will be camping in shared tents. There are no toilets or showers – you would need to wash in the streams and use the bush as your eco toilet.
Orientation: Upon arrival you will be introduced to the staff and other volunteers and briefed on your role as a volunteer on this expedition. You will also be briefed on the safety measures to adhere by and be aware of (e.g. nature of the roads, hiking in the forest, drinking water quality etc). A discussion will be held about the expectations of you as a volunteer (objectives, motivations, professions, interest, strengths and weaknesses, past experiences on similar expeditions and food preferences).
Project support: Throughout your placement you will have the support and guidance of our experienced project managers. As our project partners, they are part of our greater African Impact support team, which will provide you with competent 24-hour field support and assistance.
A day in the life: Your project managers are responsible for organising your daily activities, which will vary from day-to-day. A typical day may look like this:
8am – Wake up in the forest and wash in the stream if available. Breakfast which usually consists of beans/rice/bread/chocolate, tea and coffee
9am – Ape tracking in the forest. Following closely behind the guides, you will be tracking and looking for signs and recording GPS co-ordinates of human and ape signs. Data is collected and recorded and photos and videos taken to assist in the data collection process. You will be trekking for long hours – can be up to 10 hours of trekking.
5pm – return to camp and wash in streams and assist in dinner preparations.
7:30pm – dinner at camp. Could consist of beans and rice, spaghetti, tomatoes sauce, tinned sardines, smoked fish and local vegetables/nuts.
8:30pm – tracking evaluation time. Evaluate the signs identified during the days tracking. Discuss individual challenges of the day and ways to improve the next day’s hike.
9:30pm – free to play games or go to sleep and get a good night’s rest!
Climate: Temperatures can be extremely harsh and can range from 25 to 40 degrees Celsius. It is a very humid, equatorial climate and can experience intense rainfall. Rainy season peaks between June and October. December to March are relatively dry months. March is the hottest month of the year.
Travel highlights: during your placement, you will have the opportunity to visit local villages, schools, Limbe Beach and the Limbe Wildlife centre – a centre for which helps rehabilitate primates, whilst volunteering on the project. As you are generally in quite a remote part of Cameroon – if you wish to travel to other parts, you would need to do so before or afterwards.
- Tree planting program (under construction)
- Bird watching program; (under construction)
- Conservation education program; (under construction)
- Socio-Economic program; (under construction)
- How you can take part from home; (under construction)
- Online volunteering; (under construction)