The National Geographic Junior school diary 2017/2018 is out. It gives attention to our activities and 10 percent of the proceeds go to our foundation. Naturally, we are very grateful for this! We will use this money to buy new camera traps for our lion guards in Cameroon. The school diary is available at National Geographic, HEMA and Bruna.
The second Children’s Bushcamp of the Leo Foundation in Cameroon was a big success! This April 216 children and their teachers stayed one and a half day at Bénoué National Park. During an interactive program the children learned about the flora and fauna of the nature close to home. ‘Both the children as their teachers told us that they learned many new things regarding nature,’ reports Elise Bakker from the field.
Between 17 April and 24 April 2017, the second Childrens Bushcamp 2017 in Bénoué National Park, North Cameroon was held. It was a very successful activity in which local children and their teachers got the opportunity to get to know their national park where they are living close to, and often have never visited. During the week, we have received three groups of around 75 children and their teachers to stay one and a half day in Bénoué NP. In total, this means that 216 local pupils and 26 teachers have participated during the Childrens Bushcamp!
The children were picked up by busses at their schools early in the morning and brought inside Bénoué NP. After arrival, the day was started with a light breakfast. Then all children were again subdivided in three groups and received a name batch. Finally it was time to start the first lessons. During their stay the children received lessons in Herbivores/Carnivores, Botany and Ecosystem/Habitat. Lessons were both theoretical as well there was an outdoor activity and indoor practice. Over the one and a half day that the children were in the park, they attended classes in all three subjects.
Both the children as their teachers told us that they learned many new things regarding nature. Besides, they saw different types of wildlife (Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Kob, Buffalo etc.) for the first time in their life!
After dinner and a good shower, the evening was closed with a nature documentary about large carnivores in a real bush cinema atmosphere. Children and the teachers slept in the touristic camp of Bénoué NP. Everybody was honoured to get the chance to sleep in the famous camp of which they had heard so much about in the villages. The next day, again one course was given and before the children would head back home, a game of Bingo was played, and all children received a diploma and photos were taken as a reminder of a wonderful time.
Courses were given by experienced teachers from Ecole de Faune Garoua. For the bush activities and practices, they were assisted by 16 Eco-guards from Bénoué NP and 6 Lion guards. They were important to tell about their bush experiences, but also to safeguard the security of all visitors. Moreover, we were blessed with well-oiled machine in the kitchen which served three meals per day on time. Two drivers from Ecole de Faune, Garoua were indispensable for bringing the pupils to and back school driving through rough terrain. Last, personnel of the Camp of Bénoué NP was kindly available for extra supporting activities such as pumping water, or helping in the kitchen.
The protected areas in the Bénoué complex are currently heavily under threat by different types of human encroachments. It is important to teach the local communities about the importance of their ecosystem and why and how to protect it for future generations. In this project we are aiming for the young generations, since they are still open to learn and are often not fixed in old habits.
More pictures can be found on our Facebook page.
WWF funds the Leo Foundation with 10,000 euros for a project in Waza National Park. This park is situated in the extreme Northern region of Cameroon and has suffered severely under the presence of Boko Haram in the area. We will use the money to assess the condition of the parks biodiversity and support park management in its job to strengthen the protection of the park now that Boko Haram has left.
Waza National Park is a unique park in the extreme north of Cameroon. It was a popular tourism destination, especially for bird watchers. Because of its diverse landscapes the park has a rich diversity of bird species. It is also home to lions, elephants and giraffes. The park is not fenced and is located in a densely populated area. This often leads to conflicts between lions and nomadic herders. For example, when the herders access the park to let their cattle drink at the water holes of wild animals.
With the arrival of Boko Haram from Nigeria tourism in the area came to a halt, as well as scientific research. Resulting in outdated estimates for surviving lions and herbivores. Now that the Cameroonian army expelled Boko Haram from the area, scientific research is again possible.
With the money of WWF’s INNO-fund we are starting anew with estimating population densities of lions and their prey species. This knowledge is of great importance to protect the parks nature and provides park management with much needed information on how to strengthen the protection of the park. We also use camera traps that can be remotely accessed with a smartphone. Almost half the park has GSM network coverage. This means that cameras no longer have to be checked manually, saving both time and fuel enabling us to work cheaper and more efficiently.
The INNO-fund of WWF supports small Dutch organisations with projects that boost international nature conservation using innovative methods.
One of our most important projects is the organisation of Children’s Bushcamps in the Bénoué complex in Cameroon. We give local pupils a first opportunity to experience nature and wildlife. In this way, we teach a new generation the importance of nature in their neighbourhood and conservation of it.
Sponsor our project
However, for the organisation of a Children’s Bushcamp, a lot of money is needed. We develop education materials, pay teacher salaries, costs for transport, accommodation and food for all contributors and pupils that visit the Children’s Bushcamp. Therefore, we need your help! Sponsor our project through our crowdfunding page, and give a pupil in the Bénoué complex a unique experience.
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Hans de Iongh, chair of the Leo Foundation, received a royal decoration during his fare-well symposium ‘Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Africa’. Mayor Henri Lenferink appointed him as Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. Read more about this on the website of Leiden University: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/news/2016/10/royal-decoration-for-hans-de-iongh
Every four years the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) organises the World Conservation Congress (WCC). This year it was in September and took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. For 10 days, more than 10,000 participants participated in various events, such as central meetings, discussion groups and workshops. Topics varied from organised poaching to educational models and opportunities for involvement for indigenous people.
Two representatives of the Leo Foundation co-organised a side event that called for attention for the lion and other West- and Central African biodiversity. At the WCC in 2012 a motion on this topic was accepted at the WCC in 2012, resulting in the preparation of a “situational analysis” for this region, which confirmed that the region is not only home to a unique biodiversity, but that the numbers of species is rapidly declining in many areas. To bring this decline to a halt, a session was organised in which was called for a “Species Action Plan” for West and Central Africa. Through this platform activities in the region can more easily be coordinated and fundraising better streamlined. This initiative was fully supported by all participants and the first steps for a follow-up have already been set.
Besides this event, lions were also mentioned in a session on the use of genetic data in nature conservation. Showing that lions and other savannah species in West and Central Africa form a unique group, thus enhancing the need for their conservation. Finally, there was attention for lions in sessions that our foundation was not actively involved in, such as the role on trophy hunting in southern Africa and the increase in illegally traded lion bones.
After an inspiring congress, we hope to take further steps to preserve stable lion populations in the whole of Africa.
In October, as part of one of our projects in Cameroon and neighbouring countries, supported by the German developmental organisation GIZ, we welcomed a delegation from Cameroon to the Netherlands. Participants were Michel Babale, director of Garoua Wildlife College and two teachers of the school, Iyag Emmanuel and Bouba Hotta. Garoua Wildlife College is our local partner. At the College, students from all over West- and Central Africa are taught in wildlife management.
The two teachers followed an ArcGIS course at the Institute for Environmental Sciences (CML, Leiden University). ArcGIS is an information system with which spatial data, such as habitat and population densities, can be stored, managed and analysed. Michel Babale has spoken with Burgers’ Zoo, WWF Netherlands and IUCN Netherlands amongst others, to explore possible future collaborations. On the last day a visit to the Oostvaardersplassen was planned. The visitors got an explanation on the management of the Oostvaardersplassen by Mr. Perry Cornelissen, ecologist of Staatsbosbeheer.
We hope that the programme ArcGIS in the future can be incorporated in the curriculum of Garoua Wildlife College, and that this visit has inspired a new joint project. This way our ongoing project in Cameroon can get a follow-up and we can help keep making a difference in the region.
As is tradition on October 4th, the Day of Nature took place in Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem. The organisation of the event is in the hands of Globe Guards, a partnership between 16 organisations active in international nature conservation. The Leo Foundation is also a participant. The Day of Nature is a festive evening at which nature experiences are being auctioned. The total proceeds for all participants is 80,000 euros! Of which 3,600 euros is intended for us.
The Leo Foundation, in cooperation with Royal Burgers’ Zoo, auctioned a day at the zoo including an exclusive tour behind the scenes. The proceeds of this item go to our lion guards project. They are active in Cameroon to monitor wildlife and to educate local communities about the importance of large carnivores. Our second item was the adoption of a student, to raise a budget for a new bushcamp in Cameroon. Last year, 240 children got acquainted with nature conservation this way. As many as 8 students were “adopted”, giving us good hope that we will be able to organise a bushcamp this year as well.
Are you interested in taking part of next year’s Day of Nature? Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow the movements of lions in and outside Nairobi National Park we have fitted some animals with satellite collars. In July 2016 a new successful collaring took place. Quite special as our partner Kenya Wildlife Service requested the collaring of one specific lioness. A real challenge to locate, sedate and collar her. Luckily we had her full cooperation.
Since 2014 Francis Lesilau, employee of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and PhD candidate at Leiden University the Netherlands, does research on conflicts between lions and cattle herders around the park that borders Nairobi. The park is only 117 square kilometres large, with about 30-40 lions living in the park. These lions regularly leave the park and move into human populated areas; the suburbs of Nairobi and the surrounding agricultural and grazing areas. Here they cause unrest and problems; killing cows, sheep and goats and even attack people. To gain insight in these human-lion conflicts, we aim to fit lions that cause conflicts (so-called “problem lions”) with collars that have a satellite connection. Real-time data on the movement of these lions is used as an early-warning-system. KWS sends its rangers to prevent attacks of lions or handle the consequences of an attack.
A generous offer from Chasin’ Group made it possible to collar one new lion in Nairobi National Park in the second week of July 2016. KWS requested the collaring of one specific individual as she was identified as a problem animal. Her sister was already fitted with a collar for this same reason. As the lioness has four ‘teenagers’ (cubs of about two years old) which might copy their mothers behaviour she seemed a good candidate indeed. Quite a challenge as not earlier the options were limited to one specific individual with no back-up plan.
Beforehand, it took a lot of time to locate the lioness. She was observed in one area of the park since a few days. The question remains if she would cooperate. To lure her to us we played the distress call of a buffalo calf. To our surprise and relieve she showed up at our car within 15 minutes! She proved also relatively easy to dart. The job was thus done on the first day. The sponsor named her Nina, after his daughter.
The next day we returned to the capture site. Again we played the distress call of a buffalo calf. And again she almost immediately showed up at the car. The sedative makes her forget the whole capturing experience as her response suggests. Her four teenagers also showed up. Nina is very healthy and it seems she has already adjusted to a life with collar.
In the past few weeks she behaved very well. She stayed –besides one minor trip- within the parks boundaries. This fits with our expectations. Right now there is a sufficient food supply in the park. Only when prey becomes scarce(r) they venture outside the park in search for food. Where cows, goats and sheep are much more common and easier to prey on than antilopes.