Anna Francis

Omo forest conservation project

Paignton Zoo has been supporting conservation in the Omo Forest Reserve since 1993.

This forest is home to endangered species such as chimpanzee, white-throated guenon and African forest elephant and is under threat from logging, poaching and illegal farming.

Paignton Zoo aims to conserve the forest by changing attitudes through an environmental education programme for school children and activities for the community. The project also includes a ranger who maintains a presence in the forest and reports on illegal activities. The Zoo is in regular communication with the project co-ordinator.

The environmental education programme involves two environmental education officers visiting six forest primary schools, raising the conservation awareness of approximately 1,000 children annually. A recent visit to the UK by the project co-ordinator provided motivation and professional development.

The local community is involved through a Conservation Club which currently has 72 members and is continuing to grow. Activities include meetings with local hunters, conservation seminars and field excursions.

The presence of the forest ranger has reduced illegal activities in the reserve. He also maintains the research camp and acts as a guide to visitors.

In the last 100 years, 95% of Nigeria’s tropical forest has been destroyed. Paignton Zoo has developed and directed this project in the Omo Forest Reserve and provided all of the funds since 2001. The long term commitment to this project shown by Paignton Zoo is of vital importance to the survival of the wildlife in this richly diverse part of the world.       

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