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Sclater's monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 182518006

Conservation of a Sacred Population of the Endangered Sclater’s Monkey in Nigeria: Protected Area Feasibility Study and Forest Monitoring

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 182518006) - Sclater's monkey - Awarded $7,000 on June 07, 2018

Sclater’s monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri), classified by the IUCN as Endangered, occurs only in fragmented populations in degraded habitats in southeastern Nigeria. The species does not occur in any official protected areas. The only protection it receives is cultural, via informal institutions in local communities. Sclater’s monkey faces many threats, notably habitat loss and degradation, driven by rapid human population growth and unsustainable development. 

This project focused on the largest culturally protected (sacred) population of Sclater’s monkey across its range, which occurs in the Akpugoeze community complex, Enugu State, southeastern Nigeria. The objectives of this project were to identify sites within Akpugoeze as potential protected areas, identify and prioritize sites that would benefit from restoration, and determine degree of human impact in monitored forests. Such action is needed to improve an increasingly hostile environment for the local Sclater’s monkey population. 

This study found widespread tree cutting across Akpugoeze, with logging activity ranging from a few days to a few decades old. Forest monitors recorded thousands of cut trees, including pole-timber and saw-timber. Even relatively small trees were targeted, owing to the absence of larger trees. Local reports indicated that because of the poor economy and rapid population growth in Nigeria, youth members of the community, who had left years before to work in one of Nigeria’s larger cities, returned to the village and took up timber cutting as an easy, quick way to make money. Other observed human activities affecting forests included farm encroachment, firewood collection, and hunting (notably animal traps). 

Even with the observed forest degradation and loss across the community complex, this project also affirmed that Akpugoeze is of vital importance for Sclater’s monkey, given the species’ widespread occurrence. Monkeys persist in the degraded forests, with forest monitors unable to detect monkeys in only a few monitored forests. Monkey densities, however, vary, with most observations occurring in the human-dense central part of the community where local protection has historically been the strictest. 

Contact: Lynne Baker (lynnerbaker@yahoo.com)

Project 182518006 location - Nigeria, Africa