Yankari Collaring Season – Fall 2013
African Elephant research in Nigeria has, since 2013, been focused in Yankari Game Reserve. This project is a collaborative effort among the Bauchi State Government (which operates Yankari), the Nigerian State House (equivalent to the White House in the U.S.), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the North Carolina Zoological Park (NCZP). The Wildlife Conservation Society and NCZP have been involved in an anti-poaching program in Yankari for the past four years. This project will attempt to collar elephants in Yankari to increase the efficacy of anti-poaching activities, mitigate human/elephant conflict and improve ecotourism by increasing the likelihood of visitors seeing elephants.
Below is Dr Mike Loomis’s field diary for this research mission.
18 October 2013
I left Asheboro, North Carolina at 0700 and arrived at the Greensboro NC airport at 0800 and met Rich Bergl, my colleague at the North Carolina Zoological Park (NCZP). Rich will be doing Cross River Gorilla work as well as testing some new handheld computers for use in the field. We decided to travel together. We flew from GSO to Atlanta, Georgia and then caught our overnight flight to Paris.
We arrived in Paris on time. We had a five-hour layover in Paris. Our flight to Abuja, Nigeria was on time. We were met at the Abuja Airport by an officer from Dr. Aisha Abubarkar’s office. Dr. Aisha is one of very few Nigerian veterinarians with substantial wildlife experience.
The driver led us through the diplomatic line at passport control, then through customs. Everything went very smoothly. We met Andrew Dunn, the Nigerian Country Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, who was returning from a workshop in Europe. We were all driven to the Bolingo Hotel in Abuja by Dr. Aisha’s driver. We had dinner and went to bed.
20 October 2013
We got up at 0700 and had breakfast. A driver from Dr. Aisha’s office met us to drive our equipment to Yankari Game Reserve, about a seven-hour trip. Dr. Aisha met us at the hotel at 0900 and drove us to the Abuja Airport. Andrew, Aisha, Bitamine, one of Aisha’s staffmembers and I flew to Gombi, while Rich flew on to Calabar to set up his program.
We were met at Gombi by Gilbert, the WCS project manager for Yankari, who drove us to the Wikki Safari Resort at Yankari Reserve. We are staying in a very nice building called Marshal House. It has electricity, hot running water, a comfortable bed and air conditioning—all quite a change from my normal field accommodations while working in Africa. We also have a great cook who will be preparing all of our meals. Our equipment arrived from Abuja.
The Yankari Senior team members are:
- Dr. Aisha Abubakar, Assistant Commissioner of Police Assigned to the State House and Officer in Command of the Veterinary Unit of the State House
- Andrew Dunn, Wildlife Conservation Society Country Director for Nigeria
- Gilbert Nyanganji, WCS Yankari Project Manager
- Abidemi Kehinde, Wildlife Officer attached to the State House
- Nachmada Geoffroy, WCS Intern, Yankari Reserve
- Jonah Umaru, Acting Head of Department of Protection for Yankari Reserve
- Dr. Mike Loomis, Chief Veterinarian, North Carolina Zoologicall Park and technical advisor for elephant collaring