From 1980 when the 1st Forestry policy was enacted, through 1994 and 1996 respectively, when the Forestry and Environment Policies were legislated, to the most recent movement to rewrite a new and more dynamic forest policy, there has been a consistent effort by the government of Cameroon to improve on the management of forestry and biodiversity resources.
Currently, there are over twenty protected areas in Cameroon (representing about 23% of the estimated 30% forest), over 10 forest reserves or production reserves, and a number of Botanic and Zoological Reserves.
In spite of this huge impressive number of protected areas, biodiversity species in Cameroon over the next decades, seem to be moving towards extinction levels. Wildlife hunting (poaching), still continues unabated, pet trade and wildlife trafficking on the continued rise, as well as forest conversion into farmlands and/or development purposes, in many protected areas.
Protected areas still remain largely underfunded by the government of Cameroon, with a law enforcement system that is fraud with corruption. Some, if not, all managers of protected areas in Cameroon do only law enforcement and none is focused on research and policy development.
From all scientific hypothesis, the Cameroon wildlife simulations in protected areas may go extinct in the next 30 years, if relevant and urgent solution are not found.
In 2011 Rhino was declared extinct in Cameroon by WWF. The Giant pangolins are also in the process of becoming extinct following the research being conducted by the Zoological Society of London with support from the USFWS. The Cross River gorillas now numbered less than 300 in the whole world as well as many other critically endangered species of biodiversity are also on the brink of extinction in Cameroon.
The increasing human pressure, the authorization of bush meat markets in the metropolitan cities of Douala and Yaounde, as well in other regional towns such as Bertoua, Ebolowa, Sangmelima, Buea and Bamenda, are a serious setback to conservation and undesired consequences towards moving critical endangered species towards extinction
To manage the Cameroon biodiversity, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) was created in 2004. Alongside MINFOF, there are several international organizations (INGOs) such as WWF, IUCN, ZSL, AWF and GIZ as well as a number of prominent national organizations (NGOs) such as ERuDeF, CBCS, CWCS and AMMCO. A number of conservation networks have also been put in place such as the coalition of the natural resources management organizations (WWF), Cameroon Mountains Conservation Network (ERuDeF), African Marine Network (AMCO) and Alliance for great apes’ conservation in Central Africa(IUCN). Without the pressure of INGOS and national NGOs, that continue to protect and assist the state to manage this dwindling biodiversity, the state of the biodiversity in Cameroon will simply be described as being too precarious.
The increasing human population and the allocation of exploitation permits are further helping in isolating protected areas and biodiversity hotspots. This increased isolation also implies biological gene pools contained in the different protected areas will no longer flow again.
Who is thinking about the future of the isolated elephants in the Mt Cameroon National Park, the gorillas in the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, the gorillas in the Deng Deng National Park, the elephant populations in the North, etc.
Continuous blocks such as the Congo basin forest blocks are becoming too rare. Yet effective biodiversity and protected areas management is at the centre of rapidly growing economies in Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia and United States, where at least a third of their foreign exchange is generated from environmental conservation. Given the paramount importance of biodiversity and protected areas in promoting economic development, it goes without saying that, if Cameroon does not save her wildlife diversity and protected areas from going into extinction, the attainment of her 2035 Vision may simply be illusionary
At the doldrums of this pending extinction crisis in Cameroon, there may still be hopes if Cameroon acts urgently. Among the actions include promoting and funding biodiversity science and research through institutions such as the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity in Buea, and the Higher Institute for the Study of Climate Change and Environment in Yaounde.
The creation of wildlife corridors between protected areas, new montane, and marine protected areas, would be additional incentives to reduce the risk of extinction of what Cameroon still has as biodiversity.
The current level of Cameroon government’s investment in biodiversity and protected area management is just about 1% and considered considerably insignificant to incite to reasonable levels of economic development emanating from this type of state investment. If the government wants to attract a million tourist annually, it becomes of paramount importance for the state to significantly increase the level of investments in biodiversity and protected areas management with at least 10% of her state budget allocated to managing biodiversity in Cameroon.
Promoting protected areas alone without wildlife corridors may also lead to the extinction of local species as excessive inbreeding will set in. The rising land grabbing by the civil and political elites as well as the corporate executives are further helping to exacerbate the biodiversity extinction crisis in Cameron.
In order to stem this tide of biodiversity extinction, the government of Cameroon needs not only increase her investment above 10% of the state budget but also strongly support the work of the INGOs and National NGOs involved in the research and conservation of biodiversity in Cameroon.