Wildlife at the Drill Ranch, Calabar

One of the most endangered species and primates in Africa is Mandrillus leucophaeus (Drills), a short-tailed monkey.

The Drill Center is part of the Pandrillus Foundation, an NGO founded and run by two Americans, Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby, in Calabar, Nigeria and Cameroon in 1988 to avoid the extinction of these Mandrillus leucophaeus, a very endangered Drill monkey. The center has an artificial forest which was built in a quiet neighborhood less than the size of a football field to ensure they are not extinct.

After reporting over 250 births, the Drill Rehabilitation Center is the world’s most active captive breeding of this endangered primate. In this ranch, there are over 85 lone drills rehabilitated into six social groups, now bearing a new generation of drills. You will probably see first Drill monkey, named “Calabar”, now a great grandmother!

Each group of Drill monkeys stays in its own electric fenced enclosure, powered by a solar energy system and these enclosures can be accessed through several winding roads through the forest.

Two sites exists for the project. The first began at the original site in Calabar, Cross River State capital and this “Drill Ranch Calabar” today serves as project headquarters, office, quarantine facility for new animals and a veterinary surgery, with accommodation for managers and rotating volunteers.

The ranch serves as an ecotourism haven and the government of Cross River state partnered with Pandrillus to support the construction of guest cabins and installed a rainforest canopy walkway nearby.

When entering the center, every visitor coming in either as an individual, in tows or in groups from various locations, receives a guided tour by a staff member. At the ranch, you will find a lovely and simple bungalow in the which houses several Canadian nationals who volunteer in the ranch. As a result, in a show of pride of the nationalities who founded the ranch, there’s a forest land rover jeep with an American flag to display its American influence.

Back at the Drill Ranch, you can take a walk in the canopy walkway or take a refreshing dip in the pools and waterfalls of the Bano River from the mountain. You will also find cultivated ‘afang’ beds which is a show of agroforesty typical in that region.  

The six guest cabins at the Drill ranch each have a private deck and view of the mountain where you can watch the drills climbing up to 35 meters in the trees. Shared cooking facilities are available but guests may bring their own food and water. The nearest villages Buanchor and Katabang are 5km from the camp and they are known for producing good and fresh palm wine. In addition, beer and soft drinks can be bought from these nearby villages.

The Drill Ranch also offers a lifetime habitat for orphan chimpanzees.

These chimpanzees are always excited and any visitor must be accompanied by a member of staff to ensure compliance to instructions on safety.

However, the irony is that when you come to the range, you are actually coming for the chimpanzees to look at you and not the other way round!

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