The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has been crowned best environmental NGO for 2017. The leading conservation NGO received the award, Saturday February 17 2018, during the Guardian Post’s Annual Award. It took place at the Musango Beach Resort-Limbe.
To the organisers, ERuDeF was awarded for championing environmental protection advocacy in and beyond Cameroon. The NGO has carved its niche in biodiversity conservation, with facilitating the creation of a protected area, and many advocacy campaigns that have reshaped the conservation discuss in Cameroon.
According to The Guardian Post’s Publisher, Christian Ngah Mbipgo, the award is a token of encouragement to those, who have excelled in their respective fields of life thereby contributing to nation building and peace crusading.
Corroborating Mr. Ngah, the Chairman of the Award Committee Peterkins Manyong, said the choice of the laureates was not by luck or favour.
“They were voted by Cameroonians who identified the great work they have been doing. Such award is therefore an encouragement for others to work much harder. It is to inspire others by recognizing those who have done great work and have been recognised by their communities,” he clarified.
Though unexpected, the award was received with lots of joy by the President and the Chief Executive Officer of ERuDeF.
“It was a great surprise to me when a journalist from The Guardian Post Newspaper came to my office and informed me that ERuDeF has been nominated for this award. It’s really exciting to know that someone somewhere is seeing the great work we are doing in conserving biodiversity and protecting fragile environments in Cameroon. I am indeed grateful to The Guardian Post and to God for this award,” he added.
Mr. Nkembi, expressed profound gratitude to his staff and partners, for the great work and support that has earn the organisation such an award. He said the award is also coming as an encouragement to the organisation to continue to improve quality of lives by putting smiles on peoples’ faces through the implementation of integrated conservation and development programmes focused on species conservation.
ERuDeF is Cameroon’s leading conservation non-profit organisation created in 1999, with the mission of conserving and protecting fragile environments through research, education and community engagement.
Some 19 years down the lane, ERuDeF prides itself as the first ever national NGO to have facilitated the creation of a protected area in Cameroon, the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, with others underway.
The organisation is also credited, among others, for facilitating the launching of Cameroon’s pilot Access (ABS) and Benefit Sharing Initiative, which culminated in the signing of the first-ever Mutual Agreement Terms (MAT) in the Central African sub-region.
The Technical Committee charged with following up the elaboration of the Management Plan of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, has adopted the first draft of the Management Plan dubbed ‘Draft Zero’.
This draft was adopted last February 19, 2018 during the second technical committee meeting in Mbalmayo. Chaired by the Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas (DFAP) in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Mr. Joseph Lekealem, this second meeting sought to review the implementation of the recommendations of the first Technical Committee meeting, which took place last August 2017, in Buea. It was also organised to review the proposed Draft Management Plan, prepare the consultations and validations processes as well as update the roadmap for the elaboration of the management plan of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
In his introductory note, the President/Chief Executive Officer of the organisation facilitating the management plan elaboration process, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Louis Nkembi, thanked all stakeholders for their sacrifice and input in the elaboration process so far. Mr. Nkembi said he is anticipating that the entire elaboration process will be over by the close of June, 2018. The ERuDeF boss implored the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) to collaborate and put in all it takes for the realisation of this goal in a timely fashion.
On his part, MINFOF’s Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Mr. Joseph Lekealem, in his key note address, underscored the importance of the management plan elaboration in the conservation of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. “The work we are carry out here today is very important for the conservation and the sustainable management of this protected area, which is one of the newest protected area, small in size but very important and big in term of species composition. It is a Sanctuary with gorilla as its flagship species, a species, which moves even across to Nigerian as studies have indicated. So the elaboration of this plan is a very important initiative for us to conserve this gorilla and also look for a way to create a corridor linking this protected area and other parts of Cameroon right up to Nigeria,” he explained.
The Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas affirmed the commitment of his Ministry to ensure that the final management plan is validated by June, 2018. He accentuated the need for resources to be mobilised so the time line can be realised with ease.
The key note address paved the way for technical presentations and deliberations by the Technical Committee, which culminated in the adoption of the first draft management plan for Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. It was however recommended that the scientific names of ethno-botanic species and vernacular names of animals identified be included; that the migratory corridors be portrayed on the landscape map showing the connectivity of different land uses in the area; and that the zoning map be improved on to show the different zones and the distribution of biological resources. Meanwhile the facilitating organisation was implored to produce report of updated socio-economic studies, wildlife surveys carried out during the preliminary phase.
The Technical Committee members also use the meeting to update a roadmap to guide the elaboration process of the management plan of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and its peripheral zone was also updated.
The Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Cameroon’s newest protected areas created in 2014 by a Prime Ministerial Decree for the conservation of some close to 40 Cross River Gorillas, over 150 Nigerian Cameroon Chimpanzees, unknown population Drills and other biodiversity species. Last August 2017, the Cameroon Government through the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), constituted a Technical Committee, which has been engaged in the development of a management plan for this protected area.
Some 30 reporters drawn from media organs across different communities of the Northwest and Southwest Regions, have strengthened their resolve, to drive biodiversity conservation advocacy to the grassroots.
Yanick Fonki Ndeley
Inspired by a 3 days capacity workshop on biodiversity conservation, organised recently by a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), AfricaPhonie, the reporters are using local tools and illustrations, to pass their conservation message.
According to the reporters, they bridge the communication gab by breaking down to the simplest forms, the importance of protecting plants and animals. They added that, they capture the interest of the community by making their programmes lively and participative, while passing out their biodiversity conservation message.
“I run a call-in programme call Cultural Roundabout. While I bring up a topic for discussion, I also seize the huge participation of the common man, to give them tips on how they can contribute their own quota, in conservation biodiversity. I breakdown the information to the lingua franca of the community, which is pidgin-English,” highlighted Imma Nkong, a reporter with MediAfrik radio in Buea.
Others go as far as bringing together community members who have been affected in one way or the war by the fluctuation of weather, to discuss their challenges on live radio, so others can identify themselves in the problem. The reporters then bring in experts in the environment challenges, who give practical tips on mitigating the challenges.
“In my programme, You and Your Environment, I invite farmers, who are facing problems of fluctuation of weather, and then bring in resource persons, who tell the communities that if they abandon their traditional practises like bush burning, and felling down of trees, they shall have the weather be fixed to its normal rotations. Through the interactions I get from callers, and in the community, I believe there is some kind on mentality change. Farmers’ area now looking for the best farming techniques, which will prevent them from burning or felling down trees. Thanks to God, an agronomists introduced the agroforestry farming system in my community. That Is the modern farming system the farmers are now adapting to,” Eric Mbiamy, a reporter from the Boyo Community Radio, Northwest Region.
The journalists are striving to change mind-set through practical illustrations during their local programmes on radio. According to them, the move will bring the communities in the management and control of biodiversity, such that every action carried, would have sustainable development captured.
AfricaPhonie Trains Conservation Reporters
In a bid to facilitate the reporters acquire the necessary skills in reporting conservation issues in local languages, the Africa Phone CSO, trained the 30 journalists on the laws, policy, and governance issues, surrounding conservation in Cameroon.
Facilitators used the opportunity to empower the reporters with rights and obligations of every community member, in the conservation of biodiversity. They build the capacity of the reporters on what communities stand to benefit, if they break away from their traditional norms and believes towards biodiversity, and instead embrace modern methods of sustainable development.
“With the agroforestry system of farming, farmers can use one piece of land for several years, simply by planting trees that improve on soil fertility. In that way, we can avoid this issue of bush fires and deforestation, as farmers indulge in farming mobility when they realise that their old farms no longer yield much as before. That also contribute to deforestation,” elucidated Besong Simon, Conservator of Mt Cameroon National Park.
The organiser of the workshop, Mwalimu George Ngwane, said the work was timely. According to him, communities need to be sensitised on the dangers pose to the environment, by the little decisions they take from their various homes. He beckoned on the journalists to use all methods at their disposal to drive the biodiversity conservation message to the grassroots.
Mount Nlonako is a key melting pot for Cameroon’s exceptional herptofauna species. Located in the Littoral Region of Cameroon, this Mountain harbours over 93 amphibians’ species, 10 of which are endemic to the area. There are also 89 reptile species with three endemic to the Mountain and 267 bird species, four of which are also endemic.
B. Shancho Ndimuh
The over 30 adjacent communities to this hotspot have for time immemorial depended on this mountain’s biodiversity for their livelihood. Over 90% of these adjacent communities involved agricultural activities clear vast hectares of the Mount Nlonak each day for agriculture and human settlement. Overexploitation of wild species such as the Goliath frog and other mammal species like the Pangolin to meet consumers’ demand is threatening the biodiversity on Mt Nlonako to local extinction. Meanwhile parts of the lowland forest of Mt Nlonako have been selectively logged in the past and new concessions are nibbling the reserve along the Nkébé River.
Survey & Key Discoveries
After reading several literature and field reports about the increasing depletion of amphibians and other biodiversity species on Mount Nlonako, the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies took interest in Mount Nlonako. With the support of Helsinki Zoo, the Institute conducted a baseline survey on the distribution of Goliath frog and other amphibians species on Mt Nlonako between January and March, 2016 to establish priority sites for conservation of these species
After the survey, it was discovered that about 19,440 frogs are harvested from this mountain area every peak season with habitat loss and fragmentation on a high gear due to deforestation. This discovery underscored the urgent gazetting of this biodiversity hot spot and the provision of alternative livelihood sources to adjacent communities to Mount Nlonako as the only remedy to the depletion of the Mountain and its rich biodiversity species.
As an institution focused on setting the pace in biodiversity management in Cameroon, the ERuDeF Institute is developing a technical report for the creation of the “proposed mt. Nlonako Herpetological Sanctuary”
Difference Gazetting Mt Nllonako Will Make
The successful gazetting of the proposed site will aid in the conservation of the world largest frog species (Conraua goliath) and some 93 amphibians including endemic species like Werneria mertensiana, Petropedetes perreti, Conraua robusta,Cardioglossa melanogaster, Cardioglossa venusta, Astylosternus fallax,Leptodactylodon mertensi, Leptodactylodon ornatus, Leptodactylodon ovatus orientalis. It will equally provide a safe haven to 89 reptile and 267 bird species.
Transforming Mt Nlonako into a protected area will equally aid in the conservation of key medicinal plants species like Azadirachta indica, Baillonella toxisperma, Dosternia mannii, Enantia chlorantha, Garcinia cola, Garcinia lucida, Newbouldia laevis, Pausinystalia johimbe and Prunus Africana,Carapa procera and many others.
Mt Nlonako equally prides itself as the source of River Mungo, River Wouri, River Dibombari, and many other tributaries which the population of the area and its environs depends on for household, industrial and agricultural activities. So gazetting this area will be very instrumental in the conservation of this water source.
The biodiversity hotspot will equally serve as a laboratory for scientific research in the domain of Forestry and Wildlife, Water, Landscape, etc that will generate income for the population. The Protected Area will also help in the development of this area through the construction of research centres around the Protected Area.
Protecting Mt Nlonako will help prevent or reduce damage from many natural hazards such as landslide, erosion and land fragmentation which is destroying the habitat of Cameroon wildlife species.
Besides being the lone protected area that will be dedicated to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles species in Cameroon, the protection of this side will be very instrumental in the realisation of Cameroon Government’s policy of placing at least 30% of the national territory under permanent protection.
The transformation of Mt Nlonako into a protected area will be a bold step towards ecotourism development in Cameroon, which will go a long way to generate jobs for the locals like tourist guide and bio-monitors and in others. It will equally contribute to the sustainable management of Non-Timber Forest Product as well as supported Agro-forestry systems. Pig rearing, beekeeping and aquaculture will contribute to local economic development.
It is therefore incumbent on the Cameroon Government and the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit Studies collaborate in raising funds and putting together everything necessary for the speedy gazettment of this emblematic site, if its biodiversity must be conserved.