Category Archives: education

School Outreach begins!

Last week, our school outreach program began again! This year, our education team travels to 10 schools each week, and over 1,000 students are participating.  Lessons for the schools focus on primates, the environment, sustainable development, and man’s impact on nature.

Last week, students took a pre-exam

During the first week of school outreach, students are given a pre-exam that tests their current conservation and environmental knowledge. At the end of the school year, students are given a post-exam, allowing us to see any improvements that have been made and also allowing us to determine any changes that need to be made to our school outreach curriculum.

The students are very enthusiastic about conservation!

Our Saturday Nature Club also began last weekend. Over 200 local children participate every year, and activities include tours around the sanctuary, dramatic performances, field trips, and rallies.

We are looking forward to another exciting year of school outreach, guided tours, and the Nature Club! Conservation education is an extremely important aspect of Limbe Wildlife Centre, and we thank Columbus Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and Givskud Zoo for their continued support of our programs.

 

End of the Outreach Program for the year 2009-2010

The outreach program for this school year has come to an end. This year, our education team has been teaching on 11 different schools around Limbe, reaching more than 1000 students every week.

The educators have been teaching about animals, conservation and environmental issues.

On the last day, we invited all the students to come to the wildlife centre to see all the animals that they have been hearing about. The children were very excited and for many of them it was the first time to come here, and the first time to see chimpanzees, gorillas and other primates. It was very encouraging to take them around the centre and ask them about the animals. They have really learned a lot and also asked us a lot of questions.

Play

After the tour around the centre the students watched a play performed by the “the reformation theatre group”. The play is about bush meat trade, and even though it is a very serious subject, the group also got the children to laugh lot.

Some of the students had also prepared small sketches or songs about wildlife and conservation.

After the plays we handed certificates out for the students and the ones who performed best in each class got a prize.  Then it was time to say goodbye.

Handing out certificates

Columbus Zoo sponsors our school outreach program and we are very grateful for that. Hopefully in the future it will make a difference  that a lot of children have been educated about wildlife and conservation.

The end of the school outreach program doesn’t mean that the education team got nothing to do. The next months will be filled with Nature Club, Holiday Workshops and our new community outreach program, so there is more than enough to do. We will keep you updated.

Best wishes,

Sofie

Fraser’s eagle owl has a new home

The Fraser’s eagle owl at the Limbe Wildlife Centre has a new enclosure. Since his arrival in January 2008 the owl has lived in a cage in quarantine. Now we have build a new cage for him, so he has more space and the visitors can learn about owls.

img_0542.JPG

Fraser was brought to the LWC after some kids had thrown rocks at him. His eye was damaged and as a result he cannot be released. In Cameroon owls are considered to be witches, who bring bad luck. It is very important to educate the people about owls and their place in nature.In order to give Fraser the opportunity to fly we started a training program. Every day his trainer Killi takes him out of the cage to let him fly freely outside. Apart from the welfare issue, these flight shows are an excellent opportunity to talk to the visitors about owls. Yesterday Fraser moved in his new cage and he seems perfectly happy in there, but this afternoon during the training he was a bit confused and not flying very much. Maybe he needs some time to adjust.

Frasier’s eagle owl, bubo poensis 

On this pictures Killi is showing the owl in front of the new cage. If you want to support the Limbe Wildlife Centre, please make a donation. With the money we receive via this blog we can build other enclosures for our animals. Thank you very much for your support!

Best wishes, Simone

Bonjour!

Our educators here take visitors around the centre every day, and most of our keepers guide visitors around whenever they have time. As Cameroon has both a French speaking and an English speaking part, many of our visitors are French speaking. Therefore many of the tours have to be in French. Until now only a few of the staff have been able to do the tours in French, but this is now going to change.

Thanks to Gwendy Reyes-Ills and her parents who have raised a lot of money for our staff education program, 15 of the people working here, last week started on a French course. The course is four hours a week, and pretty intense.

Here you see the group who started taking the French course;

french-class2.JPG

It is great to see how hard the staff is working to learn French and how enthusiastic they are. Every morning after a class, we all practice what we have learned, so all over Limbe Wildlife Centre you will hear French. I even think some of the keepers started talking to their animals in French!

bama.jpg

We are very grateful that Gwendy and her parents are supporting our staff education. Merci beaucoup!

Best wishes,

Sofie

It is time for the holiday workshops!

It has been a busy time for the education team in Limbe. Every year we have holiday workshops here at Limbe Wildlife Centre. Last week we had the first one this year, which were for secondary school students. This year’s theme is “Gorillas, research and conservation”. We decide to focus on gorillas, because 2009 is appointed as “Year of the gorilla”.  Our holiday workshops are sponsored by Buschgarden Zoo in Florida, and they came up with the idea of focusing on research. The holiday workshops are free of charge, and it lasts for three full days. They are very popular among the children and adults in Limbe, and every year we see a lot of well known faces from previous workshops. This year more than 50 children signed up for the first workshop. observing-gorillas.jpgThis year the program was very busy. Within the three days, the students had several lectures about gorillas and conservation. They learned how to recognize gorillas from each other, and they did behaviour studies on the gorillas here. They went to a nearby forest to investigate if it was a suitable habitat for a gorilla group. We also had a gorilla researcher, Albert, from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) here to tell about his job. He is Cameroonian and do research on Cross River gorillas. The children loved to hear his stories about counting gorilla nests and analyzing gorilla faeces. Buschgarden Zoo has holiday workshops at the same time as us, and our children always have a chat session with Buschgardens children in Florida. It is a very important part of the workshop, and this year the students discussed everything, from the weight of a tiger and the status of lemurs, to how often people do shopping in Florida and how big a Cameroonian family is. On the last day the children prepared posters showing what they have learned doing the workshop. They all have to present their poster and the ones how had made the best poster, and who did the best presentation got awarded. At the end all the participants are given certificates.group-photo-holiday-ws.jpgEverything went very well, and we are now looking forward for the next three workshops, one for primary school children, one for high school children and one for university students and other interested adults. We are very grateful that Buschgarden Zoo sponsors our holiday workshop, and that so many people are interested in learning about primates and conservation.   Best wishes Sofie

Conservation Education in Limbe

The Limbe Wildlife Centre has run a conservation education program for more than 10 years, but in the last months something has changed. It seems like Limbe has woken up, things are moving and people are organizing themselves. It is very exciting to be in the middle of all this. It is LWC’s ambition to be a conservation resource centre for other organisations and more and more we live up to our own expectations.

In February the LWC organized a meeting for all the people who are involved in Conservation Education is this region. The big organisations were there (WWF and WCS), but also small and new initiatives. It was very interesting to hear from each other what we are all doing and it was decided to collaborate more. While often promises like this are merely words, this time it seems to have a real impact.

Last Saturday the African Alliance for Development Action and LWC jointly organized the first workshop for church leaders and pastors. Religion is very important in the South West Region of Cameroon, so church leaders and pastors can play an important role in educating the community in conservation matters. The workshop was very successful and all participants would like to continue organizing more workshops in order to reach more churches and also traditional leaders.

church-workshop-small.jpg

While I am writing this, yet another workshop is in progress in our education building. This time the members of ASPTUG-CAM TRESAT, a new eco-tourism initiative in Limbe, are trained by LWC staff. Spread out over three days, several topics will be discussed, with the aim to provide the eco-guides the skills to communicate a strong conservation message.

We are funding these activities out of a small budget that Givskud Zoo has provided us, on top of the funding for the salary of our full time Education Officer, Glenn Motumba. But when we want to keep up with the current developments we will need more funding. We are grateful for any gift to support this important work.

Best wishes, Simone de Vries

Beach cleaning

Every month we try to make a “field trip” with the Nature Club members, which is always exciting for the children.

On Saturday the 25th of April our nature club members went to Down Beach in Limbe to do beach cleaning. The beach cleaning is a yearly event, which in addition to cleaning the beach, also gives us a good opportunity to discuss garbage and its impact on nature with the children. The week before this event we discussed this subject in class to prepare and encourage the children.

 beach-cleaning-006.jpg

This year more than 30 motivated Nature Club children showed up to help with the beach cleaning. In addition, 20 teenagers from a church group joined our efforts, so we had a big group. We divided the children into small groups, each with a wheelbarrow and rakes, and then worked our way from one end of the beach to the other. The children collected a big pile of rubbish, and even though the beach may look dirty again today, I believe that they learned a lot from the cleaning, and that it also made a good impression on all the people who watched us clean the beach.

Best wishes,

Sofie

New Education Officer

Since the beginning of this month we have a new Education Officer. Although new… Glenn Motumba has been part of the LWC family since he was very young. We are delighted that Givskud Zoo in Danmark has recently decided to fund the costs for an education officer, which will enable us to further develop our education program.

Glenn Motumba started his career at the LWC as a member of our Saturday Nature Club. He was always the most enthusiastic student and was desperate to learn anything he could about nature, wildlife and conservation. He is probably the only person who has read every book in our library and is always eager when new books arrive. It was natural that, when he was too old to be a member of the club, he became an education volunteer. He guided people around on Saturdays and Sundays and helped out with workshops, field trips and of course Nature Club. At the end of last year Glenn graduated from Beua University and he now has a Bsc in Sociology and Anthropology. For us this was the time to offer him a real job and Givskud Zoo made it possible.

meeting-cs-batoke.jpg

The first month has been a starting up month: finding space for an office, painting, putting a desk together, finding a computer to work on, etc. But at the same time Glenn has started the work with much enthusiasm. He is teaching in our School’s Outreach Program in a secondary school in Batoke. This is a 16 weeks program that is taught on a weekly basis. Glenn also started up a football project with a primary school in the same village. This is a PASA (Pan African Sanctuary Alliance) project that combines football with education. We will keep you informed about the progress on this. And last but not least, Glenn organised a mini-workshop on the theme: Climate Change, Consequences for Cameroon. Jane Boles, a volunteer from the neighbouring Botanic Garden, did one of the presentations and we all learned a lot about the carbon trade and how this can affect conservation in Cameroon.

glenn-groomed-by-student.jpg

I am confident that Glenn will turn out to be a great education officer and many students will learn a lot from him in the future.

Best wishes,
Simone de Vries
Assistant Project Manager

Gorilla stories

gorilla-stories.jpg

Yesterday LWC presented the book ‘Gorilla Stories’, which is going to be used in conservation education in all the schools in and around Limbe. The Cross river gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), that lives in the South West Province of Cameroon, is critically endangered, with only around 250 gorillas left in the wild. It is therefore very important to educate the people of this province about these gems in their forests. The book is a tool to discuss the Cross river gorilla, its needs and the threats it is facing.

‘Gorilla stories’ is developed by the Czech Radio, with money that came from their project Odhaleni (Revealed). This gorilla project, which started with a gorilla version of the television show ‘Big Brother’, filmed in Prague Zoo, is very popular in the Czech Republic. Now the Cameroonian students will meet with the Czech Zoo gorillas and will learn about the life of gorillas both in the wild and in the zoo.

The principles and teachers of fifteen schools were present for the book presentation, which was covered by the Cameroonian Radio and Television and some local radio stations. Miroslav Bobek, one of the writers of the stories, and Jana Jiritova, were over from the Czech Republic to assist with the presentation and start the distribution of the books. All school representatives were very pleased with the donated books, which are very nicely illustrated with lots of gorilla pictures. Like everybody in this country, the Cameroonian schools are always struggling to make ends meet, so it is very difficult for them to build up a library. This book donation is for most schools a valuable gift, that can be used in all sorts of classes, from conservation education to comprehensive reading, drawing, etc. The Limbe Wildlife Centre will use the books as well in both the outreach program and the Saturday Nature Club.

Best wishes,

Simone de Vries

Assistant Project Manager

The ‘witch bird’ at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon: Felix Lankester

The Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon, focuses predominantly on the rescue and rehabilitation of endangered primate species, like western lowland gorillas and the drill monkey.  However we also often rescue non-primate species, like reptiles and birds and other small mammal species.  Many of these species tend to be solitary animals whose behaviour is fairly instinctual and consequently returning them to the wild when they are healthy is less complicated than it is with primates.   In 2008 we have rescued and released dwarf crocodiles, African rock pythons, black kites, genet cats, palm civets and African civet cats, land tortoises, and 1227 African grey parrots to name a few.   

Earlier this year a fledgling owl was brought in to the LWC by members of the French Army who have a base nearby.  The owl was a Fraser’s eagle owl (Bubo poensis) and it’s left eye was extremely swollen, closed and bruised.  The army cadets had rescued the bird from some children who had been throwing stones at it.  Locally, and in many other parts of the world, owls are associated with witchcraft and as a consequence people are frightened of them and tend to try to kill them if they see one.   

We took the owl in and placed it on treatment and waited for the swelling in the eye to reduce.  After a few days the swelling had reduced sufficiently for the eyelids to open and at this point we could assess the damage to the eye.  Using an opthalmoscope it was clear that the damage was permanent as the retina had become detached from the back of the eye.  Owl’s hunt using their hearing but also rely on sight to guide them through the trees as they fly and only having one good eye would severely handicap this owl in the wild.  Consequently we decided that we would not be able to release it.   

This posed us with a dilemma of what to do with the young owl:  keep him in a cage for the rest of its life or euthanase it?  Not great choices.  Luckily, however, we came up with a third option:  to try to train the owl to fly to the fist in the hope that we could use him for displays whilst educating visitors about owls, how they live and hunt, and how they are not witches in disguise!  At this point, as the owl was to stay, we gave him a name and the obvious choice was Fraser.  

So for the past 5 months our quarantine keeper, Killi Matute and an English ornithologist, Robbie Whytock, have been working together to train Fraser.  The process is quite complicated but Robbie has a lot of experience training raptors and under his guidance Killi and Fraser have slowly developed a very intimate relationship.  Killi sets traps at night to catch mice and rats and then during the day he chops them in to bite sized pieces, weighs them, and at 1pm feeds approx. 25grams of meat to Fraser.  The amount fed each day has to be carefully calculated as if Killi feeds him too little he will lose weight, and if he feeds too much he will not want to fly the next day. It’s an interesting balance and its only through careful daily calculations made by weighing the food fed and judging how Fraser responds each day that Killi has been able to finally estimate what Fraser’s preferred daily ration should be.  Each day since the training began little by little Fraser has become more comfortable sitting on Killi’s fist, feeding from his hand, flying to his fist in a cage, flying to his fist outside with a string attached to his jesse (leather straps attached to his feet), to finally, this week, flying outside to Killi’s fist without a string attached.   

Killi Matute and the Fraser’s eagle owl he rehabilitated and trained

Last weekend Fraser and Kill had their first display in front of a crowd of local children and visiting government dignitaries.  The response that Killi received when he appeared with a ‘witch bird’ on his hand that flew at his command was quite incredible.  However before anybody began to think that Killi was himself a wizard, we described how and why Fraser came to be living at the LWC, how vulnerable owls are and how they deserve protection not persecution.   

The impact was remarkable and Fraser’s story really underlines how at the LWC we try to extract the maximum conservation value from each and every animal that is unfortunate enough to need rescuing.   I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Robbie Whytock for his expertise in training Killi and Fraser.  A great job well done! 

Felix Lankester