Field Ecological Survey

Field Ecological Survey

Field Ecological surveys identify the habitats and/or species that exist within an area at the time of the survey. Most of our development proposals will have the potential to impact on the local biodiversity of the development site either through the direct loss of habitats, the reduction in the value of the habitat or the ability of the habitat to support the species that depend on them.

Early identification of any ecological constraints ensures that development proposals are not delayed and appropriate mitigation or compensation is incorporated into the design phase. Based on the above principle, BPC has blazed the trail by helping interested clients to conduct Baseline Studies, Environmental Impact Assessments, Post Impact Assessment, Environmental and Social Impact Assessments amongst others. Other such activities are wildlife surveys in key habitats and on key species.

Nigeria’s newly discovered animal ‘West African Zebra Gecko’ (Hemidactylus eniangii), named in honour of BPC’s Director of Research Dr. Edem Eniang in June 2010.
Tortoise bushmeat survey yields evidence of the continued existence of Sitatunga in Mbiakong forest of Uruan. 
Juvenile tortoises rescued from the bushmeat trade along Osomba/Oban corridor
Freshly killed African manatee by the fishermen at Itu wetlands
Manatee bones
Field survey at Oban forest corridor

 

Thus on the  on the 30th day of September 2016, the Biodiversity Preservation Center (BPC) Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria embarked on a project entitled ‘’In search of the forgotten wildlife species of Nigeria’’ otherwise generally referred to as ‘Voyage of Discovery’ led by Dr. Edem A. Eniang of the University of Uyo, Nigeria. The project employed many ingenious methods to work with local communities to trace and track the endemic, endangered and critically endangered species of wildlife that were once known for the country but are no longer found. The team in the project focused particular attention on Mecistops cataphractus which was last seen in 2006 in a bushmeat market in Calabar, Cross River State. To date, the team has surveyed six (6) states of the nation namely; Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Rivers and Ogun, but could not find a single specimen of Mecistops cataphractus.

In June 2017, BPC Nigeria received a small grant from Critical Ecosystems Partnership Funds (CEPF) and Birdlife International under their Guinean Forest of West Africa (GFWA) program to conduct a project ‘’Determining distribution, density and connectivity of threatened tortoises in Nigeria’’. The project enabled BPC to carry out intensive field ecological and market surveys for tortoises but the team did not fail to keep an eye open for Mecistops cataphractus throughout its surveys for tortoises which share the same habitat.

In the process, BPC identified Mbiakong Community in Uruan Local Government Area (LGA) Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria where the people generally can describe three different crocodiles and agree that they still have Mecistops cataphractus in their swamp forests. The swamp forest of Uruan LGA is about the largest semi intact swamp forest left in Akwa Ibom state. Being unable to trace a specimen of the Mecistops cataphractus till date, BPC tortoise project team decided to use the tortoise conservation project to cause the Mbiakong people to establish a Community Wildlife sanctuary targeting the in-situ conservation of the three endangered tortoises of Nigeria and the critically endangered Mecistops cataphractus.

Overview of Mbiakong sanctuary

The sanctuary is now operated and managed by BPC Nigeria in conjunction with IDECC an NGO based in Rome, Italy and other Nigerian NGOs eg TRCC. Also, the people of Esuk Mbat community, Akpabuyo Local Government Area (LGA) who were also recipient of the tortoise project reported the sighting of Mecistops cataprhactus in their ancestral swamp forest in October 2017 after a hunter killed an individual that they considered an abnormal crocodile because of its unique snout and BPC Tortoise project team members embarked on intensive survey of the said forest but are yet to find a specimen to put on record. Rather, the team realized that 70% of elders of the community could describe M. catapractus correctly and the native name is Aniong Inua Offiom (Efik language meaning ‘the crocodile with a long mouth). Based on several unconfirmed reports of recent sightings of M. cataphratus  by some hunters and the on-going Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund/Birdlife International funded tortoises conservation project which seeks to promote the in-situ conservation of the three endangered tortoises of Nigeria namely Kinixys erosa, Kinixys homena and Pelusius niger in the same habitat, the Biodiversity Preservation Center (BPC) has signed and MOU with Esuk Mbat community to establish and manage an Esuk Mbat Community Wildlife Sanctuary with effect from January 2018. It must be noted that community conserved areas are not common in any parts of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the tortoise project has led to a sustained monitoring of crocodiles in the affected states of Nigeria leading to the discovery of new localities with good populations of Crocodilus niloticus sochus and Osteolaemus tetraspis in southern Nigeria.

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Field Ecological Survey

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