Wilder Institute, NCF Award Scholarships for Cross River Gorillas’ Conservation

Bennett Oghifo

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in collaboration with the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo and the Center for Biodiversity Conservation Research (CBCR) in Ghana, has awarded scholarships to three postgraduate students of the University of Calabar to strengthen capacity for gorilla conservation in Cross River State.

The award is a form of community conservation initiative to protect the endangered Cross River gorilla which will bring enormous ecotourism benefits to the people of Cross River through preservation and conservation efforts of these species.

The beneficiaries who were awarded scholarships in environmental sciences are: David Agabi-Eneji and Adekanmbi Adeyinka who were awarded with an M.Sc. scholarship for two years; and Wilfred Ayambem who was awarded a Ph.D scholarship for three years. These are the first set of recipients out of the five students that will be beneficiaries from the 5-year community conservation graduate student scholarship programme.

The scholarship covers registration and tuition fees, operating and living expenses, accommodation, field research expenses, study materials and equipment. The programme which is full-time. involves a mandatory paid six-month internship at the NCF and a compulsory one-month hands-on training during an exchange visit to CBCR Ghana.

In 1987, NCF led a team to Afi Mountain in Cross River which led to the rediscovery of the Cross River gorilla which was hitherto considered extinct. Currently, NCF is working with Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, Canada; the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research, Ghana; and the University of Calabar on research that promotes the conservation of the Cross River gorilla. Other partners providing technical support for this project are the Cross River National Park and the Cross River Forestry Commission.

“As a leading conservation organisation in Nigeria who understands the implication of losing biodiversity at a rapid rate, NCF sourced funds to address the challenge by engaging experts and consultants in conducting result-oriented research that will promote the conservation of endemic Cross River gorilla,” Dr. Joseph Onoja, DG, NCF.

NCF is the foremost environmental NGO in Nigeria dedicated to nature conservation and biodiversity resources management. A key pillar in the 2021-2025 NCF Strategic Action Pillar (SAP) is “Saving Species in Peril”, designed to rescue and conserve species, especially those endemic to Nigeria such as Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, Ibadan Malimbe and many others.

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