Calabar Drill Monkey Ranch

Calabar Drill Monkey Ranch


The drill, a short-tailed monkey is among Africa’s most endangered mammals. At the Drill Rehab and Breeding Centre, otherwise called Drill Ranch in Calabar, Cross River State, such mammals and other animals are given a habitat to make sure they don’t go extinct.

In a quiet neighbourhood in the heart of Calabar, an artificial forest has been established on a land not up to a football field. It was started in Nigeria and Cameroon in 1988 by Pandrillus, an NGO founded and directed by two Americans, Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby, to prevent the extinction of the highly endangered drill monkey Mandrillus leucophaeus.

In the make-believe habitat for endangered species of animals are Tropical Rainforest Drill Monkeys, Chimpanzees and a handful of other smaller, crawling animals and assorted birds. In this ranch, there is the only bungalow which serves as administrative blocks for the several White volunteers, some of them from Canada. There is also a forest Land Rover jeep with American flag hoisted on it, to show its American influence.

Much human activity is not pronounced except for the stream of visitors who come singly, in twos and in groups every now and again from distant places and states, according to the manager of the place, Mrs Irene Edem, who is the first female and fifth president of the Calabar Paradise City Lions Club.

Drills are one of Africa’s most endangered primates, and here is the only place in the world to see natural-sized captive drill groups in natural habitat. The founders of our drill groups were recovered as orphans after their nursing mothers were illegally shot for bushmeat. We have rehabilitated over 85 lone drills into 6 social groups, now bearing a new generation; over 450 drills have been born at the project. There are 5 drill groups, each in their own electric fenced enclosure, powered by our solar energy system. The enclosures can be reached down different winding paths through the forest; the largest enclosure perimeter is nearly a kilometer around.

Drill Ranch also provides a lifelong home for orphan chimpanzees, and our busy chimpanzee group can be seen in their forest enclosure. Please keep in mind when you visit the chimps’ enclosure that you are not only coming to see them but, more importantly, you are coming for them to have a look at you! Chimpanzees can be excitable and great care must be taken near their enclosure: all visitors must be accompanied by a staff member when visiting the chimpanzees and comply with their instructions for their own security and that of the animals.


There is plenty to keep you busy at Drill Ranch. In addition to seeing the animals there are beautiful walks in the rain forest to the canopy walkway (see below), and beyond to the pools and waterfalls of the Bano River coming straight off the mountain, making a very refreshing dip. Our demonstration tree nursery was heavily damaged in the landslides of 2012 and we are hoping to find funds to rehabilitate it. The cultivated ‘afang’ beds survived and illustrate agroforestry techniques.

Some of our guests enjoy visiting our nearest villages – Buanchor and Katabang – each just about 5 km from camp. Visitors will find the villages very friendly and excellent palm wine is available at the right time of year.There are 6 guest cabins at Drill Ranch, each with a private deck and view of the mountain, looming above the largest drill enclosure.

The cabins are fully screened but open to the air on all four sides. From your comfortable bed you can watch the drills climbing up to 35 meters in the trees. Guests are charged on a per person, per night basis, regardless of the number of cabins or beds used. There are rollaway beds for children which can be prepared in any cabin. Bedding and towels are provided.

Cooking is in a shared facility with Drill Ranch senior staff that live in camp. All cooking utensils are provided, and all guests must bring their own food and drinking water. Warm beer and soft drinks are available from the nearby villages. There is also a place to camp and we are developing a site for overland trucks to set up.