Ekwoge Enang Abwe
Dugout Canoe travel on Djerem River to Ganga Camp Author: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
2022

Ekwoge Enang Abwe

Conservation Biologist

Deep in the Ebo Forest

meet ekwoge

Ekwoge Abwe is a primatologist and manager of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s (SDZWA) African Forest Program. He holds a BA in geography from the University of Yaounde I, an MSc in primate conservation from Oxford Brookes University, and a PhD in biology from Drexel University. Ekwoge serves as secretary general of the African Primatological Society. He is co-vice chair of the Section on Great Apes of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, and an active member of the IUCN-SSC Primate Specialist Group ARRC Task Force and the Working Group on Chimpanzee Cultures.

Deep in the Ebo Forest
Nominated by: Joe Rohde, FN'10
Class of 2022 Location Cameroon
Teaching data-gathering to the next generation in Mbam & Djerem National Park
Teaching data-gathering to the next generation in Mbam & Djerem National Park Author: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

My research has made significant contributions to science and biodiversity conservation in Cameroon.

In 2005, I observed chimpanzees cracking African walnuts with stone hammers in the Ebo forest, a subsistence tool-use behavior hitherto thought to be limited to the western chimpanzee in West Africa. I studied Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee habitats and behavioral ecology, and found that rainforest and savanna-woodland-forest mosaics were significantly different and that the behavioral ecology of chimpanzee populations was also distinct, linked to local adaptation.

“My dream is to see grassroots communities and their partners actively work together towards a better future for wildlife, forest and communities alike.”

- Ekwoge Abwe

With long-term institutional support from SDZWA, I have used this scientific knowledge to promote biodiversity research and conservation outreach among grassroots communities, civil society organizations, academic and, research institutions, and government agencies across Cameroon. In 2012, based on the knowledge that the Ebo gorillas are an isolated population within the western gorilla range, I initiated an ongoing community-led Ebo gorilla conservation initiative, Gorilla Guardian Clubs, in three communities adjacent to the gorilla habitat.

In 2020, I led a fervent campaign to save the Ebo forest following the government of Cameroon’s classification of this culturally rich landscape into logging concessions. The logging concessions were suspended in August 2020 by direct order from the President of Cameroon. Today, the government is pursuing the option of an inclusive land use planning process which we proposed as a way forward for the sustainable management of the area. I am at the forefront of coordination efforts for the land-use planning process, which is now supported by many international donors and partners, the government of Cameroon, civil society organizations and grassroots communities.

 

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