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28 April 2017

Creation of Mt. Muanenguba IER:

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Bangem Chiefs, Elites… Pour Blessings On Project

Creation of Mt. Muanenguba IER:

Chiefs and elites from seven villages in Bangem, Kupe-Muanenguba Division of Southwest Cameroon, have unanimously agreed to collaborate with government for the creation of the proposed Mount Muanenguba Integral Ecological Reserve (IER). Their poured their blessings, Tuesday March 28, 2017 during a meeting to sensitise villages adjacent to the proposed protected area. The meeting took place at the Bangem credit union hall. The villages included Mbat, Nkack, Poala, Muelong, Muabi, Ebonimin and Muabah.

According to the chiefs, the people of Bangem are very committed to seeing the project being realised. They indicated conservation is a prerogative for everyone to be devoted to.

“Conservation is wealth which you can’t recreate, I have personally understood the importance of keeping what you have, and one must therefore do everything possible to keep it in tact. My people and I are very committed and are available at any time if our services are needed,” Nhon Ngwese Michael Same, chief of Mbat village said.

The chiefs acknowledged the fact that creating an integral Ecological Reserve at Mt. Muanenguba will bring in a lot of bounties to the Bangem people. They intimated that the villagers living adjacent to the biodiversity hotspot will benefit a lot from it.

“Our youths and women, including our men will work in the Reserve. We shall have alternative sources of income that will boost the economy of our villagers. I stand here on behalf of my people to say, we give our full support to the project,” Nhon Ekwenongene Alexis, chief of Muebah village said.

For the elites, the project will bring a lot of remuneration. According to them, besides the beauty the emblematic mountain will bring, lots of employment opportunities will also be born from the realisation of the project.

“I think this project will add up to the beauty of Mount Muanenguba, thus more tourists will visit the area. It will not only provide employment opportunities to our children but also boost our economy. We support this project and we are ready at any time whenever our services are needed,” Ngwese Samuel, Elite from Nkack.

They indicated the project will bring many other developmental activities in the Bangem community. For them, having an Integral Ecological Reserve is welcoming progress.

“This project will give birth to many other projects like development of roads, and portable water. It will not only bring our communities to the lamplight, but it will also conserve the flora and fauna of the area,” Ntungwa Gideon, an elite from Muebah village stated.

Addressing participants, the Mayor of Bangem council, Mr Ekuh Ojeh Simon, lauded this initiative to transform Mt Muanenguba into an Integral Ecological Reserve. He urged participants to embrace the project whole heartedly for their own benefits.

“These stakeholders facilitating the creation of an Integral Ecological Reserve of our mountain, are not taking anything away from us. They are rather coming to ensure that everything that is on that mountain is preserved for present and future generations. Since Mt. Muanenguba is already a touristic site, these conservation activities will only add more meaning to the benefits the mountain already brings,” Mayor Ojeh stated.

Mount Muanenguba which cuts across the Southwest and Littoral Regions of Cameroon is said to have a heterogeneous Ecosystem, harbouring 100 species of amphibians, 89 species of reptiles and 270 bird species amongst which 60% of them are endemic. The mountain with height of 2411 meters above sea level, suffers chronic threats from communities living adjacent to the mountain. Habitat degradation, which involves conversion of natural land for agricultural land through shifting cultivation, destruction of trees for commercial purposes, overgrazing and trespassing of cattle in streams and water ponds, collection of amphibian and reptile species, amongst others, are the main threats rocking the mountain.

Faced with all of these challenges, Cameroon’s leading conservation NGO, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), joined forces with the Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF) to conserve the rich biodiversity and Ecosystem of Mount Muanenguba with focus on Amphibians and Reptiles.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CAMHERP-CBF, Dr Nono Gonwouo, the creation of the Integral Ecological Reserve would not only conserve this rich biodiversity and ecosystem, but will equally protect and preserve their cultural heritage found on the mountain. To him, if the project is effectively realised, the mountain will serve as a touristic site, hence, creating employment opportunities for the local communities. The adjacent population would also benefit from alternative sources of livelihood to distract them from activities that deplete the forest.

Participants raised concerns on the activities carried out by the Mbororos, an indigenous group living adjacent to the mountain. According to them, the Mbororo people are the ones exerting pressure on the mountain.