Project Mecistops develops research and volunteer teams in West Africa
Species conservation projects such as ours would not be possible without the participation and support of passionate volunteers, researchers, educators, and donors.
Boots on the Ground
Matt has been studying crocodiles throughout West and Central Africa for over a decade. He has surveyed crocodiles in 13 different African countries, many of which had either never been surveyed for crocodiles previously or hadn’t been surveyed in over 20 years. Throughout these surveys he collected the genetic material needed to conduct studies on the systematics and molecular ecology of African crocodiles, including providing the critical evidence for recognition of highly divergent species within each of Africa’s three crocodile genera (Mecistops , Osteolaemus, and Crocodylus ). Dr. Shirley is the Chairman for the West and Central Africa region of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, of which he is a member since 2008.
She has been a member of the FAO Working Group for the Development of the Toolkit for Human-Wildlife Conflict Management in Central Africa and has a particular interest in socio-ecological approaches to biodiversity conservation. Apart from the Project Mecistops, she is coordinator of the WCS program in Congo Brazzaville since 2017.
After 20 years working with the three crocodile species in the Zoo, Zoh says with a smile that, despite having a healthy dose of fear initially, they have become his passion. And, especially after working with the many captive crocodile professionals that have come to Côte d’Ivoire, he’s been inspired by the passion in these people and is happy to be part of the crocodile community!
He originally started as an elephant keeper, though after 1 year he became a member of the crocodile team. When asked what he likes most about the crocodiles, he claims it is watching them eat! He is fascinated by the loud, effective violence. He says that after nearly a decade with these animals they have truly become a part of who he is and, finally, he appreciates knowing how to work with the crocodiles safely and securely. Monin looks forward to further station training and controlled feeding as part of educational displays at the Zoo!
He joined the crocodile team in 2013. Since joining the project he says he has developed a real connection with the animals and has really appreciated learning how to work with them in a way that minimizes their, and his, stress (see photo). When asked one thing he finds most impressive about crocodiles he quickly replies their dominance displays, like jaw clapping and head slaps – which he says both inspires fear and awe in these wondrous creatures!
Digbé is a water and forestry engineer for the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests. Prior to working at the zoo he was a forestry police in the region of Taï National Park. Digbé joined the Abidjan National Zoo team in 2011. In 2014 he became the first African recipient of the Behler Scholarship and attended the AZA’s Crocodilian Biology and Captive Management school at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. While in the USA, Digbé had the opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo and experience the great potential for what the Abidjan National Zoo could become.
This work forms the basis of his PhD research at the Université de Nangui-Abrogoua. Michel is very interested in a diversity of research topics, including conservation planning, endangered species, impacts of human activities on fish and wildlife resources, landscape ecology, and environmental education.
Christine is very interested in a diversity of research topics, including conservation biology, sustainable use and human-wildlife interactions, crocodilians, tortoises & turtles, and conflict resolution in wildlife conservation.
The goal of our project is to ensure the future of the West African slender-snouted crocodile, and other rare and threatened species, in the wild by driving in-situ and iex-situ conservation efforts throughout their distributions.
Join Project Mecistops
We thank the people and organizations dedicated to crocodile conservation in West and Central Africa without whose support species conservation projects such as ours would not be possible. Join us!
Research in Action to Take on Today’s Biggest Environmental Threats in West Africa
We invite students and established researchers alike to collaborate with us for the better understanding of crocodilians and other species in this region. The crocodiles, pangolins, turtles, tortoises, duikers, and pygmy hippos of West and Central Africa are some of the least known species in the world. We know so little of their ecology, evolution, interactions with humans and their importance to local people’s that protecting them is often a challenge. Come help us change that!
- West African slender-snouted crocodile
- Central African slender-snouted crocodile
- West African dwarf crocodile
- Congo dwarf crocodile
- African dwarf crocodile
- West African crocodile
- Nile crocodile
- Black-bellied pangolin
- Giant pangolin
- White-bellied pangolin
- Kinixys tortoises
- Freshwater turtles
- Pygmy hippo
- West African manatee
- Zebra duiker
- Jentink’s duiker
- Freshwater fish communities and fisheries
Volunteering in Action to Take on Today’s Biggest Environmental Threats in West Africa
If you’re a zoo professional and you’ve always wanted an excuse to come to Africa – our captive breeding program needs your help! Work with our Ivorian zookeepers to not only care for our breeding colony and baby crocodiles, but ensure the sustainability of this program by developing their skills as zoo professionals.
Are you a college student, zoo professional, or otherwise competent field person who always wanted to help on-going species research programs in Africa? Come help our Ivorian students and other field staff implement their projects!
Are you good with your hands? Can you help us build enclosures, fix plumbing, construct insect traps, rewire our incubators? Come work with our Ivorian zookeepers to improve not only our crocodile breeding facilities, but help develop the Abidjan National Zoo into West Africa’s first and only endangered species breeding facility!
Are you a photographer or videographer with media editing skills who always dreamed of helping publicize endangered species conservation efforts? Join us at the Zoo and in the field to help us make promotional materials and in return see wild Africa as only seen through the eyes of David Attenborough and the like!
Are you crazy about social media, blogging, and websites? We’re conservationists – not publicists – help us reach out to the world using all these technologies that, quite frankly, our grandparents understand better than we do!
Penny for our Crocs
We know it’s unbecoming to beg – but even still these baby crocs have got to eat! So, if you don’t have the time or means to lend us a hand in Côte d’Ivoire, but you still want to support any of the amazing animals with which we work!