It started in 2010 with an acre of land in the lowlands of Ikot Uso Akpan and Obong villages of Itam clan, Itu L.G.A of Akwa Ibom State Nigeria when a relic population of Sclater’s Monkeys residing within a tiny patch of tropical rainforest over-shadowing the Okuku stream waterfall (the only source of water for both communities). The teaming population of community members had left off this patch of forest to shade their water source from expanding subsistence farms shrinking off the forest from all sides. The Okuku stream water shade was the only sleeping place for the critically endangered Sclater’s guenons (Cercopithecus sclateri).
The members of BPC following on their persistent pursuits of Biodiversity Conservation across Itu wetlands continued to rally support for the betterment of the acclaimed 4th most important monkey species on earth. BPC made stringent efforts to secure larger habitat for the monkeys from the year 2006 to 2009, all those efforts could not yield sufficient fruit. Worried by this perilous situation, BPC members identified the Small Grant Programme (SGP) of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and applied for a small grant in pursuant of a community based conservation of the critically endangered monkeys.
In 2010, SGP grant was awarded for the said project and today, the monkey has a better and more secured habitat http://www.bpc.org.ng/our-programmes/biodiversity-conservation .Many thanks to GEF (SGP). The story of Itam monkey and their long term survival will never be complete without the mention of GEF (SGP) intervention. The goal of Itam Monkey Project which received funding from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) under its Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was to help Itam people conserve the critically endangered primate Cercopithecus sclateri in their community by conducting community conservation education and tree planting of indigenous multipurpose trees, train community members to conduct community based eco- tourism while building forest resilience against global climate change.
This project was designed to ensure the regeneration and preservation of representative floral and possibly faunal species that are threatened with extinction and directed towards the in-situ community conservation of the critically endangered Sclater’s guenon monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri) which is endemic to Southern Nigeria and Listed in Appendix 1/Priority 1 in the Nigeria Conservation strategy while internationally recognized and rated No. 4 in the 2006 IUCN global Red Data list of endangered species of fauna.