Friday, March 21, 2008

Drill Ranch at Afi Mountain

From Calabar we headed up to Afi Drill Ranch (~5 hour drive), one of the sites that Pandrillus operates in an effort to save the endangered drill monkey and chimpanzees that are orphaned. Pandrillus was started by Liza Gadsby and Peter Jenkins in 1988 and is a Nigerian-registered non-profit company and is also registered in the USA as a 501 c 3 non-profit organization. Donations are welcome.

There are three sites that are run in Nigeria and Cameroon; the Drill Rehab & Breeding Center (DRBC) or Drill Ranch in Calabar, Nigeria, the Drill Ranch at Afi Mountain, in Cross River State, Nigeria, and the Limbe Wildlife Center in Southwest Province, Cameroon. A great summary of Pandrillus’ activities can be found at this site along with contact info.

The accommodations at the Drill ranch are quite nice with screened in cabins, most having a view of the drills in an enclosure or you can camp if you choose (we did). There is a nice clean pit toilet and community shower. Here we are in the kitchen area of the Drill ranch where there is a stove, a refrigerator and electricity (110V), all powered by solar energy. We mostly ate back packing meals (freeze dried food) as they were easy and we did not have to shop en route to the Drill ranch.

Our first visit to the Drill monkeys with spectators on both sides of the electric fence (see pic below). There are five enclosures that house the 400+ monkeys, many which have been bred in captivity. They plan to reintroduce ~100 monkeys into the wild in the next year or so and their progress will be monitored.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the drills and chimps consists of plantains, bananas, avocados, ground nuts, and more. We enjoyed the avocados!

The Alpha Male with mother and child.

Just hanging out!

Showing some teeth!

There is one enclosure for the Chimps. Here are three adults and a baby chimp.

Munching on some sugar cane.

Pablo, a young chimp that looks old because he had a really high fever when we was rescued and the fever impacted his development.There is a variety of things to do from swim in the Bano stream, which was not flowing too strongly when we were there, or walk on the Kache BanoWalk-a-Way, Africa's second largest canopy walkway. The largest is in Ghana and was built by the same Canadian company.

On the advice of someone who has been to Afi Mountain area many times, we hiked up Afi Mountain and a few of us hiked over Afi Mountain into the next town. It was a VERY hot and humid day and like Mt. Cameroon the hike was straight up. The view from the top was not too spectacular because there was no peak, per se, therefore the view of the surrounding area was clouded by the trees. Once we reached the top we decided to go on to see the research facility where Kelley McFarland studied gorillas from about 1996 to 1999. Her goal was to determine the requirements needed to start a gorilla sanctuary similar to those created for the Drill monkeys and Chimpanzees.

We lost significant altitude on the hike to Kelly's camp so we decided to continue hiking down into the village of Boje where we met the Chief. We did not take pictures in the village because there was one villager who was strongly opposed (and maybe drunk) and therefore we were uncomfortable even after others said it was OK to "Snap". Hiking through the village put us on the opposite side of the mountain from where we wanted to be so we had to take an okada ride for about one hour on hilly dirt roads for the cost of 500 naira ($4.20) per person. After about 40 minutes on the bike, I had to make the driver stop so I could stretch my legs as my thighs/quads were cramping from holding on tight while going up the hills. Ouch!

Pictures are a compilation of those I took and those from Sharon, Jonathan, Kevin and Susan. Thanks!

1 comment:

Tamara said...

Thank you! I love it when I find fresh news/photos of Afi.

-Pandrillus Volunteer