Support Conservation - Support Community
The ambition of the Cross River Gorilla Project is to work with
ERuDeF in order to set up a research/hostel centre in the rain forest through UK fundraising,
as well as looking to introduce a number of initiatives to help support those who live in the local communities
with particular reference to education and women.
We are developing a ‘Needy Student’ support programme’ with local schools raising money
for families in the forest areas of south west Cameroon unable to pay for the school fees, uniform,
money for books and school equipment (pencils, pens, rulers and school bag), a support programme with a particular focus on orphaned children. The model for this programme has been developed through work done
with Longridge Towers School in North Northumberland.
It provides a way to directly support the forest communities of Besali and Bechati; and in the process, to help develop a more positive attitude towards the conservation of
the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla and the rain forest of the Lebialem Highlands
We would like UK schools to sign up to raise money for ‘Needy Students’
as one of their annual school or class charity activities. The money would go
directly to supporting one or more children in the forest area of Cameroon. In return UK schools would learn
about life in the forest communities and the work to conserve the rain forest and the rich flora and fauna found there.
Where possible direct links would be established between students in UK schools and those in Cameroon.
-COMMUNITY SURVEY, CAMEROON, FEBRUARY 2017-
In an effort to better understand the attitudes of the local villagers in regards to Gorillas we conducted a survey amongst villages in the local communities surrounding our research centre site. Information gathered from CRGP team upon last visit to Cameroon from local community;
questionnaires written and data processed by student interns also known as CRIT.
Cross River Information Team (CRIT) Questionnaire Information
CRIT are a group of 6 second year biology students from Newcastle University working to write
a literature review each for the Cross-River Gorilla Project. The topics they cover are: setting up the research centre;
ecotourism and how it is carried out in other areas; integrating with the community; research of the flora and fauna;
specifically the history of the Cross-River Gorilla and the Bannerman’s Turaco and
cultural beliefs associated with the gorillas.
We created a questionnaire which was completed by students in Besali, Cameroon containing questions regarding how the students use the forest around them, their thoughts and concerns about a research centre being built and their views of bush meat, hunters and the Cross-River Gorilla. Due to the current situation in Cameroon students had to meet in a house in the village of Besali which meant that only 19 questionnaires have been filled out and not all questions were answered. However, they do provide a range of views which will help the CRIT group to understand the hurdles that must be overcome to build a research centre, introduce ecotourism and be accepted by the community. A large proportion of the population are young people which makes these student’s opinions even more important.
When asked about the forest, gorillas, the Bannerman’s Turaco and hunters,
95% of the students recognised that the forest is important.
The students did not know a lot about the Bannerman’s Turaco, but they said that it tells them the time.
Almost half said that gorillas are good, and one of the most common written responses was that gorillas are like humans, one student even said that ‘a gorilla was like a brother to them’. Questions about hunters produced mixed views,
26% felt they were good, whilst a majority of 32% thought they were bad.
A large amount of the students, 89.5% admitted to having eaten
bush meat with only 10.5% of the group saying they had not which shows
their reliance on hunters for protein whatever their view is of hunting the gorillas.
In terms of how the centre can give back to the community, 64% of students wanted the centre to be close to the village, 95% would be happy for people to stay at the centre and most liked the idea of having access to the internet and a library. Every student said they would like to be involved with the centre and 79% said that they would want to study there.
This feedback was really positive and suggests that locals would welcome the centre if
the Cross-River Gorilla Project could provide opportunities for them as well as the environment.