Our educational project is aimed at school-aged children and youths in key areas and strives to create understanding and appreciation of the life and importance of gorillas. The project is carried out by teachers from the region who have been trained by the AWP.
In the Takamanda National Park we aid cooperatives in growing organic cocoa beans and sell them at fair trade prices so as to help create viable alternative sources of income. In return, commitment is gained from local inhabitants to protect the highly endangered cross river gorillas, which means refraining from poaching and overexploitation of the forest. We also use the proceeds from the sale of the cocoa to further develop our Cameroon projects in order to continue our work on the protection of endangered species.
Great Apes Education Program
Across primary schools and colleges in Cameroon, the AWP is involved in the Great Apes Education Program, whose aim is to protect the endangered cross river gorillas – the rarest gorilla species on our planet. The deforestation of the rainforest, in particular, has led to its near extinction – there are only about 250 left in the world. This makes the Gorilla gorilla diehli even more at risk than the mountain gorilla.
Through the training of local teachers as gorilla ambassadors and the implementation of project days at schools, children aged between 7 and 18 are sensitized to the need of protecting gorillas. They are shown concrete courses of action for the protection of animals. Often there is a lack of basic knowledge about the animals, their way of life and conservation status. We strive to impart the necessary knowledge and skill sets, dismantle barriers and, thus, with the cooperation of the inhabitants of Takamanda, save the fascinating cross river gorillas from extinction while promoting peaceful coexistence between humans and gorillas.
Our 5-day program was recognized by the Cameroonian Ministry of Education (MINEDAD) in 2017 and incorporated into the school curriculum along with modern teaching methods. Amongst other benefits, motor, linguistic and cognitive skills of the children are bolstered. The teaching materials were jointly developed by specialized teachers from Germany and Cameroon. The species conservation content was prepared with experts from the WWF and the WCS.
The Great Apes Education Program can be launched and implemented on an ongoing basis. Sponsors of the project are Wilhelma Stuttgart and Regenwald & Berggorilla Direkthilfe.
Takamanda is quite a new national park in western Cameroon along the Nigerian border. Within it live the cross river gorillas. The goal in establishing the Takamanda National Park is to end poaching and deforestation and to save the remaining population. What is supposed to protect the cross river gorillas, however, has turned out to mean the loss of the only source of income for most of the local inhabitants. One possible solution was agriculture. Cocoa cultivation has a long tradition in Cameroon, which is why a large part of the populace has turned to this alternative.
The cocoa growing areas often overlap with the habitat of the cross river gorillas. The few remaining gorillas are mostly found living alone or in pairs. In order to find mating partners, they must often travel along distant, dangerous routes. They can only do this if people respect their trails and stay away from them.
In Takamanda National Park, around 16,000 people in 18 villages share their lives with the gorillas. They are indigenous peoples representing various ethnic groups, including the Anyang, Boki, Asumbo, Bascho and Belegete. Traditionally, they live on hunting. In recent decades, however, they have come to terms with life as farmers. Their main source of income today is cocoa farming.
The AWP strives to improve the living conditions of local farmers and create synergetic opportunities that will have a long-term, positive impact on the protection of the cross river gorillas. Proceeds from the fair cocoa trade provides local farmers with a secure source of income so that they no longer need to depend on hunting. Illegal poaching can, thus, be regulated and pressure relieved from the great apes’ habitats. Through cooperation with the local populace, an agreement has also been reached: the inhabitants of Takamanda will in future play an active role in the conservation of cross river gorillas and their habitat.
With the construction of a solar dryer and fermentation boxes in 2018/19, we were able to bolster the cocoa producers in the Kekpani community. Tests have shown the cocoa beans grown in the Takamanda region to be of very high quality. Our goal is to win over customers in Germany and Europe at fair trade prices. Part of the proceeds will be used to support AWP projects in Cameroon.
The project Takamanda Cocoa, with which we are supporting the efforts of the GIZ in this area, is backed by the WP Schmitz Foundation.
The aim of the educational game Wildlife Run is to make the local population aware of the plight of the endangered apes. The Wildlife Run is an fun jump-and-run game in which participants collect points that will allow them to protect a gorilla, chimpanzee or elephant from poachers and other dangers. To get to the next level, participants must answer knowledge questions posed by forest rangers. We hope this will lead to an increased awareness for the protection of animals and a more positive view of the profession of a ranger.
The game provides an interactive experience and is intended to expand our educational program at schools in Cameroon. It takes place in the final phase of the program; upon its completion it can be played on site in teams as a friendly competition.