By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in collaborating with Nigeria National Park Service, Cross River State Forestry Commission, and the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains (CAMM), has trained 60 forest rangers and guards to strengthen the protection of the Cross River National Park, Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Mbe Mountains Community Forest.
Cross River State hosts about 50 percent of the remaining tropical rainforest in Nigeria and recognized as a biodiversity hotspot, the forests of the state are home to a number of rare and endangered wildlife including the Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, drill, forest elephant and pangolins but due to weak law enforcement, these forests and valuable wildlife are declining rapidly hence improving the protection of these protected areas is critical to critical to halting biodiversity decline in the region, mitigating climate change and safeguarding the ecosystem services that they provide.
In view of this, the WCS Country Director, Mr. Andrew Dunn in a press statement made available to some newsmen in Calabar yesterday, said from November 3 to December 16, 2021, the WCS in collaboration with others organized a refresher ranger training course for the rangers at the Erokut Gate Park Entry for Cross River National Park and Cross River State Forestry Commission rangers as well as CAMM eco-guards which was funded by the European Union, Rainforest Trust and JRS Biodiversity Foundation as regular refresher ranger training is important to enhance ranger performance and improve park protection.
Dunn said the training was conducted by the South Africa based specialist ranger training company “Conservation Outcomes” that had previously trained rangers in Cross River State and in Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State.
He said that the training “covered physical fitness, first aid, patrol techniques, drill, discipline, human rights and self-defence. The training lasted a total of 42 days and was divided into two courses, each lasting 21 days (and) 30 rangers drawn from Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Mbe Mountains, and Cross River National participated in each course totaling 60.
In addition to providing essential patrol equipment and logistical support to ranger teams in the field, he stated that “WCS supports regular training of rangers and eco-guards to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills that they require to effectively patrol their protected areas”.
Besides increasing their knowledge and skills, he stated that, “the refresher training has raised morale among the rangers who are also motivated to perform their duties and better protect forest and wildlife at their sites…WCS is planning additional training for 60 rangers from Cross River National Park in January 2022”.
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature and it work in 60 countries across the globe to support conservation with local, national, and international stakeholders, undertaking management and conservation of a network of key protected area strongholds across the Central Africa and Gulf of Guinea Region.