Hellabrunn Zoo supports initiative to protect drills in Cameroon
The Limbe Wildlife Centre, a rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction sanctuary for drills in Cameroon, has launched an initiative called Green Project. The project engages local inhabitants from the surrounding villages to supply a significant amount of the food required for the endangered drill, thus providing new employment opportunities.
The drill is one of the most endangered primate species in Africa. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the drill ranks among the most endangered species on the planet. Only about 3,500 individuals still survive in their natural habitat, an area of merely 40,000 km2, stretching across Cameroon and Nigeria to the island of Bioko.
Hellabrunn Zoo has been a member of Save the Drill, an association committed to the protection of the drill in their natural habitat in West Africa, since 2011. The Save the Drill association supports the Pandrillus Foundation, which operates the Limbe Wildlife Centre together with the Ministry of Forestry in Cameroon. Limbe Wildlife Centre is a highly respected rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction sanctuary for rescued drills and other primates, which re-releases the rescued animals into the wild - where possible - after an appropriate period of rehabilitation. The wildlife centre also runs a local outreach and education programme in the region.
For the past ten years, the drills at Limbe Wildlife Centre have been fed mainly two types of plants: wild ginger (aframomum) and a specific species of sugar cane (costus). This diet ensures the animals are healthy, rehabilitated and optimally prepared before being released into the wild. The plants are grown and harvested by farmers from the surrounding villages and purchased by the Limbe Wildlife Centre as part of the wildlife centre's Green Project. The project not only provides the drills with a natural balanced diet, but also offers an alternative source of income for former poachers. Thanks to the Green Project, the drills are now protected from persistent poaching, while the villagers are supported in their efforts to achieve self-sufficiency.
"This is a impressive project, because the valuable work carried out by the Limbe Wildlife Centre not only benefits the drills, but also the local people, who have been shown ways to make a living without poaching," says zoo director Rasem Baban. "Projects like this allow us to support the protection of the drill in their natural habitat as well as make an important contribution to the conservation of endangered species." Hellabrunn Zoo has therefore decided to cover 12 per cent of the project costs for the Green Project for 2017.
As coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the International Studbook (ISB) for the drill, Hellabrunn Zoo assumes great responsibility for the zoo population of this endangered West African primate species. This includes its role as ambassador for the species as well as for conservation projects in the primate's natural habitat. Over the years, Hellabrunn Zoo has demonstrated its long-standing commitment to the conservation of the drill with its membership of the Save the Drill association, which supports the PANDRILLUS project in Nigeria and Cameroon.