The striking colours of adult male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) makes them a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts visiting Central Africa. They are, however, threatened by hunting for bushmeat, and habitat loss and fragmentation, and are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species. WCS’ mandrill conservation efforts are based at Lopé National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where hordes of more than 800 individuals can be seen traversing the forest-savanna mosaic.
Here we work with the National Parks Authority (ANPN) and the local community to develop mandrill-based tourism. This includes training and recruitment of ecoguides from the local villages, and radio collaring individual mandrills to help locate the groups. We deploy camera traps in the forest and savanna to give us more information on the mandrill groups that we are studying. Environmental education has also been an important component of this program. To reduce the threat of poaching, WCS provides assistance in anti-poaching and surveillance monitoring to staff of Lopé National Park, the Ministry for Water and Forest (MinEF) and nearby forestry companies.