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General News of Saturday, 12 December 2015

Source: erudef.org

Mount Kupe: Conservation groups to protect integral ecological reserve

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The Proposed Mount Kupe Integral Ecological Reserve in the Southwest and Littoral Regions of Cameroon is covered with a pristine forest, and home to many rare and unique species of plants and animals.

The mountain is home of many birds, reptiles, amphibians, plants, insects and mammals endemic to the area. Amongst which are the famous Mount Kupe Bush shrike, spectacular chameleons, and frogs.

The area is the main source of food, water, medicine and building materials for the local Bakossi and Manahas people. It is sacred and considered the home of their ancestors, hence well taken care of.

However, its proposed Integral Ecological Reserve status proposed by adjacent communities through their chiefs’ association is yet to be endorsed by the government.

The delay in granting this area full protection status has frustrated the conservation efforts of non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders in the area; rendering species more vulnerable.

For the past two decades, NGOs like Birdlife International and WWF- Coastal Forests Program have worked with different community associations in the area to put up structures and measures for the conservation of the Reserve.

The recent exit of these organizations from the area has left these conservation groups on their own with little or no funds to implement conservation work.

As a result, structures that were responsible for the implementation of conservation measures left behind by the NGOs have become inactive. The chiefs’ association that was responsible for following up with the classification process of the mountain is now dormant; the Eco-tourism and the Hunters’ association that carried out community oriented patrols up the mountain has been confounded.

The demarcation line done by the different communities to protect the water catchment for 20 villages is now seriously being encroached due to unsustainable farming activities around watersheds.

Despite the traditional ban of 1994 on hunting in the area, bush meat is constantly available in the local markets. This was not the case when the NGOs were in place.

There is an urgent need to revamp existing conservation groups, technically and materially to continue conservation efforts put in place by NGOs in the area. This will place a check on the over exploitation of the Reserve’s resources while advocating for full protection status from government
The proposed project will cost $50000USD. It’s our time and opportunity to invest in nature and safe this rich biodiversity hotspot for posterity.

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