Gorilla & Chimpanzee Conservation Volunteer Project, Cameroon
Volunteer in Southwest Cameroon on this conservation adventure featuring rare species key to the forest ecosystems. Trek with the primates and work alongside the local people. An incredible opportunity to get involved with these endangered animals.
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The Gorilla & Chimpanzee conservation volunteer project works with two of the most threatened African great apes; the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla (the rarest of the gorilla sub species) and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (the most endangered chimpanzee sub species in Africa.
By volunteering in Africa on this project you get to help both species, which are key to the forest ecosystems.
Threats to the survival of gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates in the Lebialem Highlands have been identified as being:
- agricultural encroachments
- commercial logging
- settlements and roads splitting habitat and therefore the ape population
- hunting, trapping and illegal trading of bush meat
As these threats continue to impact on the area, there is an urgent need to complete an assessment of the distribution of great apes and the threats and opportunities for their conservation.
Ultimately, this will lead to the establishment of community wildlife reserves, protecting them for the future.
- Pre-departure information and advice
- In-country assistance and support
- 24-hour emergency contacts
- In-country induction or training
- Help with optional activities and tours
- Post project involvement and updates
- Transport – Airport pick up and drop off and project related transport
What’s Not Included:
- Monthly stipend
- Any excursions or weekend activities over and above your planned itinerary
The Gorilla & Chimpanzee Conservation programme is based in the Lebialem Highlands, which are a six hour drive from the coastal town of Limbe in the south west province of Cameroon.
You will need to fly into Douala International Airport (DLA).
Project life and photos
Volunteers are desperately needed on this project in Cameroon to help save the dwindling numbers of the chimpanzees and gorillas.
Volunteers on this project may be involved in the following tasks:
- Conducting surveys of the Montane rainforest
- Assisting with gorilla tracking
- Assisting communities in identifying and developing community projects
- Assisting with community education and awareness-raising activities
- Assisting with three planting initiatives
Gorilla surveys currently take place at two main sites, Bechati-Fossimondo-Besali forest and Ashukem-Bokwa Hills. During tracking, camps are set up in the forest and tracking teams are put together. Depending on the size of the forest, about two to three camp sites may be set up.
During tracking, key observation include sighting of nesting sites, direct sighting, vocalisation, feeding signs and moving tracks. Bird watching and butterfly observation may also be side activities as well as plant ecology amphibians and reptiles.
This activity is done in schools and communities. During the school session, children are taught the ecology of great apes, their importance, habitat needs and possible roles of children in protecting apes. Contests are also organised for the children, like drawing of gorillas, chimps etc and prizes are then awarded.
The community conservation education is focused on similar topics and the importance of gorillas and chimps to the economy of the local people especially through eco-tourism, job opportunities, contribution of volunteers to community development and environmental management in the region.
Tree planting is being promoted throughout the Lebialem Highlands and beyond, either in farmers’ fields or water catchments. Preparation of tree nurseries and seed bank development are also promoted. This part of the project will improve soil health, increase crop production and stabilise ecologically fragile landscapes.
You will generally rise around 6am to the sound of the forest and will receive a breakfast of rice and fish or chicken and some local fruits. One of your co-ordinators will give you instructions on the days activities ahead and you will receive full training on any activities that you will be involved in and given the necessary resources.
If a stream is nearby you will have the chance for a quick wash before packing up the camp and moving on. The porters will assist whenever tents need to be taken to the next camp. The team will then walk to the next area to be surveyed.
During the surveys all sightings of animals in particular primates will be recorded in detail, including net site data, observations, feeding signs, habitat and tree species, elevation, GPS co-ordinates, mode of detecting and any other important remarks. Each data sheet will represent forest block, which in turn represents a single sampling unit.
Photographs will also be taken where possible, to compliment the data recorded.
After a hard day’s work, you will return to camp between 5 and 6pm where you will receive your evening meal and settle in for the night.
Flights, transportation and visas
- You will need to fly into Doula International Airport, a member of the project staff will collect you from here as pre-arranged and transport you to your project.
- On departure, your project coordinator will transport you to the airport or to a hotel of your choice.
- A valid passport, visa, evidence of yellow fever vaccination and current immunization records are required for entry in to Cameroon.
- Airport visas are not available; you will need to obtain your visa before travelling* to Cameroon.
*Please note you will be provided with a letter of invitation, one of the requirements for obtaining a visa, upon confirmation of your place on the project.
CIBT Visa advice...
For expert visa advice we advise our volunteer, work placement, and internship participants to get in touch with CIBT - a company that we work in partnership with. Our UK, Canadian, and US travellers can use CIBT for visa advice and to get their visa applications processed - with visas returned within a week.
Dates and duration
The minimum duration of this conservation project is 2 weeks and can only be extended in 2 week blocks. This is because the groups will trek continuously and set up camps, only returning to base at 2-week intervals.
Start dates 2013:
- 10 March
- 7 April
- 12 May
- 9 June
- 7 July
- 11 August
- 13 October
- 10 November
Please check availability with a Twin Work & Volunteer travel advisor. Call 0800 80 483 80 or contact us.
Safety and insurance
- All of Twin Work & Volunteer's placements are in partnership with recognised and established local organisations, run by or employing local people. These organisations, depending on the nature of what they do, might be small-scale NGOs, family projects, schools or orphanages, or local initiatives with environmental or social goals.
- We often use local businesses to provide logistical and support services to volunteers such as transfers, pick-ups, accommodation and so on. In this way, we support the local economy through helping independent local businesses to thrive. We take our partnerships very seriously and work extremely closely with all our partners.
- We provide 24-hour emergency support from the UK and our partners provides support locally.
- We have an agreement with the crisis management service Tranquillico, should the very worst situations arise.
- If any wider safety concerns arise in the destination, such as civil disturbances or natural disasters, we seek advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implement their recommendations where appropriate.
Comprehensive insurance is available for all programmes. You have no obligation to take up insurance with any of these companies, but insurance of a suitable sort is mandatory on all our programmes.
- Volunteers must be over 18 years of age
- Experienced travellers are required for this demanding project
- You do not need any specific qualifications for this project as you will receive training in the field, although some trekking or climbing experience would be an advantage
- Volunteers must be hard working, mature, motivated and able to show initiative. Good health and physical fitness are also required as the environment is very demanding and the climate is hot and humid
- Volunteers will need to be fluent in English
Accommodation and Food
Accommodation will vary throughout the project and will include:
- One or two nights at a local hotel
- Staying with local people at a local inn
- Several days in a local village
- Camping in shared tents
In the villages
- Hot water (sometimes bush showers)
- Communal toilets
- Electricity from generators (when available)
In the Rainforest
- No running water or toilets
- No electricity
- Telephone network not always available
All meals will be provided and will be based on locally purchased food. Volunteers will need to indicate of they have any specific dietary requirements and we will cater to this as best possible.
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