ERuDeF mourns victims of Kumba massacre, institutes Black Friday

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation dedicated Friday 30th October, 2020 to 7 school children that were brutally murdered on Saturday 24 October 2020 at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, Kumba, Cameroon by armed men. “Black Friday for Victims of the Kumba School Massacre” as the days was christened, ERuDeF staff, dressed in black outfits, paid homage to the slain children.

In a press conference held at the Head Office of ERuDeF in Buea, Southwest, Cameroon, the chief executive officer of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi condemned the killings that took place at Mother Francisca international Bilingual Academy in Kumba, terming it barbaric and inhumane. The CEO of ERuDeF used the opportunity to call on the national and international communities to put hands on deck to solve the rather overdue crisis. “we see the dead of these children as ours. we condemn in the strongest words such barbaric acts from whatever side they are coming from. We are asking the government to come out strongly not just to look for those who are behind this act but to end the conflict throughout the entire Anglophone Regions”, Mr Nkembi Said.

He recounted instances where innocents people had lost their lives as the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon keep escalating.  To him, the government has all it takes to end the crisis once and for all. Hear him “The government has the knife and the yam. The killings that happened in Kumba are just a symptom of a bigger problem. Even if we succeed to fish out those who are behind the killings, it wouldn’t prevent another one from surfacing in Mamfe, Nkambe or Mankon. This means that there is a root cause and the government of Cameroon is at the center of this. The government has the power, the political will together with all her partners around the globe to end this crisis.”

Mr. Louis Nkembi warned that if the root causes of this crisis are not tackled there will be more bloodshed in the future “If the problem is not tackled from the root cause we should be expecting more killings in the months and years ahead” He regrets the fact that the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya has chosen to manage the crisis from the background. To him the president should always be on the ground when incidents like the killing of school children in Kumba happens. “I think this is the time for our leaders to stand up and say enough is enough; not by using a military solution, not by making speeches but by sitting on the table and talking with those who are involved. He regrets the fact that the United Nations and other international bodies are not doing enough to solve the crisis.  “Like the government of Cameroon”, the CEO of ERuDeF   laments, “these international bodies keep focusing rather on the symptoms than the real problem”.

He further proposed that
the entire Civil Society in the two Anglophone regions should come together as
a unit and make a peaceful protest match to pressurize the government of
Cameroon to go back to the dialogue table with Anglophone leadership.

The Mr. Nkembi used this opportunity
to announce the institution of Black Friday that will hence forth be observed
by all ERuDeF staff members and friends on every Fridays of the week in memory
of the all those killed during the Anglophone crisis.

Why Tchabal Mabo needs urgent conservation action

 The Adamawa Plateau named after Modibbo Adama, the founder of a Fulani emirate, is 1100m in altitude. There are also clearly defined mountains with summits over 1800m, the most elevated being occupied by the grassland vegetation (Sporobolus africanus) much grazed by herds of the Mbororo. It’s highest elevation peaks over 2650 meters. The vegetation of Adamawa Plateau is made up mostly of savannah and some part of montane forest. The plateau is the source of almost all water basins in the Cameroon, such as the Benue River, River Sanaga, Logone River, Djerem, and the Lom river. This plateau has key biodiversity hotspots such as Tchabal Mbabo Mountains. Tchabal Mbabo Mountains range on the western border of the Adamoua Plateau is the highest peak on Adamawa Plateau. 

The Tchabal Mbabo Mountains represent the last segment in the chain of mountains known as the Cameroon Volcanic Line, which extends northeasterly from the island of Bioko continuing inland with Mt. Cameroon, Mt. Kupe, the Manengouba Mountains, Mt. Lefo and Mt. Oku. Tchabal Mbabo is a broad horseshoe-shaped mountain massif with a west-eastern orientation and altitudes of up to 2,400 m. Above 1,600 m covers 79,000 ha with 4,900 ha of relict montane forest along the steep northern slopes, adjacent to the rim which represents the northernmost occurrence of this forest type in Cameroon. The montane ecosystem is the most botanically rare and the most interesting ecosystem on the Tchabal Mbabo Mountains.

 A survey by Matt Walters University of
Canterbury, NZ 2004 identified ten IUCN globally threatened montane plant
species on Tchabal Mbabo. Locally these forests are crucial for maintaining a
year round water supply for local communities and are the headwaters of several
major rivers. They are also habitat for wildlife.
The montane-savannah
ecosystems of Tchabal Mbabo are globally recognized for their conservation
importance due to their richness in birds (Tchabal Mbabo was designated by
Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) harbouring more than 86
species of birds. six of these bird species are endemic to montane areas of
western Cameroon and Nigeria), reptiles, amphibians and large mammals. The
mammalian species include large predators such as the near threatened African  golden cat (Felis aurata), leopard (Panthera
pardus)
and spotted hyena (Crocuta
crocuta).
Following biological reconnaissance surveys conducted by a team
of Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society scientists (CWCS), the African wild
dog (Lycaon pictus) reported extinct
in the area by IUCN was recently confirmed by local hunters to still be
present. However, a total of 30 herpetological species (one caecilian, 14 anurans,
nine lizard and six snake species) are recorded from the Tchabal Mbabo Mountains. In this light, thoroughly surveyed
savanna forest areas in West Africa suggest amphibian species counts of
at least twice of those present here. Efforts to preserve the unique montane
forests on the northern slopes as well as the semi-deciduous and gallery
forests are warranted to ensure their welfare in the future.

The
montane forests on the north-facing slopes are relatively secure due to their
extreme topography. The gallery forests on the southern slopes however, are
accessible to the Fulani cattle and are increasingly degraded by husbandry
practices. Threats to the vegetation of Tchabal Mbabo come from the local
Fulbe in terms of overgrazing, burning and wood collection. Particular species
which are exploited include the timber trees (Hallea stipulosa), and Prunus
africana.
The latter is commercially valuable for its medicinal purposes as
the bark contains a complex of compounds used in the treatment of prostate
cancer. Trees are completely stripped off their bark and consequently die. Though
rich in biodiversity, no major conservation work has been carried out in Tchabal
Mbabo.

Recommendations for conservation and
management support the idea of creating a National Park incorporating the whole
of Tchabal  Mbabo  with 
different management  zones:

1) Total protection of the forest, that is
escarpment forests and some areas of the plateau with representative types of
stream fringing forests

2) Rural development on the plateau with the
introduction of alternative grazing and wood Sources or the reintroduction of
floristic diversity. Eucalyptus species have proved very effective on
neighboring Mambilla Plateau in Nigeria, but fast growing native species such
as Croton macrostachyus and Hallea stipulosa could be trialed.

3) Rural development on the Dodeo plain with a
wide buffer zone between it and the bottom of the escarpment forests.

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation(ERuDeF)
with over 20yrs experience in conservation activities, restoration of fragile
ecosystems, will be contributing to the conservation of Tchabal Mbabo Mountains
in the Adamawa Plateau. ERuDeF will equally be planting over 10 million trees
in the degraded Adamawa plateau to restore its ecosystem functions. The project
doped Tchabal Mabo Mountains-Ghasaka Ngumti trans-frontier project would help
create the Tchabal Mabo Mountains National Park and a series of community
forests. The project will also collaborate with the neighboring Ghasaka Ngumti
National Park in Nigeria to create a transfrontier programme to support the
conservation of elephants, baboons, chimpanzees, large cats in the conservation
areas.