As part of Environment and Rural Development Foundation ERuDeF’s 2013 vision to plant 30.000 globally threatened trees on the Mt Cameroon forest, the organization has started working to conserve one of the trees which has been identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list of threatened species as Vulnerable, the Afrostyrax lepidophyllus. The seed of this tree commonly referred to as “country onions” is a rare gem of the natural evergreen forest with multiple uses. The seeds and bark of this threatened species are used as a condiment in cooking. They render a strong flavour and mouth watering aroma to traditional dishes of Cameroonian cuisine, most especially “ekwang”. The bark extract is resistant to pesticides nematodes and arthropods and insect resistant strains of lice. It is also believed that the strong scent of the species is repulsive to reptiles like snakes.
The species are currently being propagated at the organization’s project tree nursery. Wildings and seeds of the species are collected from the wild and raised at the nursery. These will be subsequently distributed to farmers in communities around the Mt Cameroon National Park who will plant them out in their farms. The aim of this initiative is also to reduce pressure on the Natural resources within the Mt Cameroon National Park. It would be recalled that Afrostyrax is one of the many species within the ERuDeF Project of conserving threatened trees within the Mt Cameroon area. The tree belongs to the family Huaceae and has the species which grows in areas of wet evergreen forest is found in the Mt Cameroon forest area.
Planting the species will help to increase the income levels of the local communities in a long run-when seeds will be harvested and sold. The presence of these trees will equally contribute to the Microclimate of the area and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere while enhancing carbon sequestration.
By Asa’a Lemawah
As one of efforts to valorize local plants in Cameroon Man and Nature and ERuDeF Present Echinops giganteus project to Magha Vast reforestation program also envisaged
Saturday, the 19th of January would go down in the history books for the inhabitants of Magha, South West Region, Cameroon, who form a significant portion of Cameroon’s 3rd highest, but fast degrading peak, Mt Bamboutos. On this day, the Executive Director of a French conservation organization, Man and Nature, Olivier Behra, with technical assistance of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF, officially presented to the natives the access benefit sharing Echinops giganteus project.
This was in a sensitization meeting which brought together over 50 natives of Magha including the chief’s reagent, administrative authorities and project managers. Speaking during the meeting, the Executive Director of Man and Nature, Olivier Behra, explained that the objective of this project was to find how to help the local population see more value in their resources. Mr. Olivier explained that it is evident that the Magha people are in need of economic income and of life improvement and they can only be more concerned about the conservation of nature if they see value in their natural resources. “We make survey of the plant and survey of the market and see what we can find that can give direct value to the people and we identified this plant as having a potential for the fragrance industry. We want to make value out of a plant which does not really seem to be of much commercial value to the people and help improve their livelihood. If we can manage to find a market for this plant, people can have more income. Echinops is growing everywhere in Magha so if the people have a market, they would be able to improve on the livelihood of the people” Olivier Behra explained.
The people of Magha on the other hand expressed their willingness to give full support to the project which to them would help improve their livelihood as a retired teacher, Tangong put it “We understand this is the first phase of the project. If the research proves successful, it means we would have the possibility of cultivating more of this plant and selling it abroad which would in turn fetch income for us” The chief of Magha’s impression was not different “We have so many plants growing in this area whose importance we do not know. If the researchers can carry out studies and come up with ways of adding value to these plants, it will be very much appreciated”
Speaking during the meeting, the CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi assured the people the execution of the project will not in any way tamper with existing traditions and that the people will retain their right as the sole custodian of the plant. The representative of the Delegate for environment, Tsala Tsala Emille on his part assured the people that the ministry of environment will remain the watchdog of their environment and make sure the parties involved respect the terms of reference.
Supported by French conservation organization, Man and Nature and executed with technical assistance of ERuDeF, the Echinops giganteus project it is worth noting is a component of the entire programme on the restoration of the degraded Mt Bamboutos. The root of the plant has essential oil potentials for the production of perfume and it is of interest to a French enterprise MANE.
Reacting to complain from the natives on their vulnerability to landslides, the Executive Director of Man and Nature asked the people if they are willing to plant trees to help curb landslides and the people overwhelmingly said yes. Olivier was overwhelmed in his words “It is wonderful for me to see the motivation of the local population who know that the environment has been destroyed and they want to do something about it. They are enthusiastic about reforestation. This is moving me to go back to Europe and the United states to say we need to help these people plant more trees and restore their degraded landscapes .We want to help these people to help themselves”
Magha natives say YES to the Echinops giganteus project
CEO ERuDeF, chief of Magha and Executive Director of Man and nature shaking hands to new friendship
THREATENED BIRD THOUGHT TO EXIST ONLY IN S.W NIGERIA AND GHANA DISCOVERED IN CAMEROON
The Ibadan Malimbe (Malimbus ibadanensis) hitherto thought to exist only in Nigeria and Ghana was recently captured in the Lebialem Mone forest in the South West region of Cameroon by the camera of a group of biologists from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF.
These researchers were accompanied by volunteers from USA, Germany and England. They went to the Tofala-Mone Corridor for monthly bio-monitoring activities and spotted this bird on a tree close to the banks of River Bokwa, located at longitude 571965 and latitude 630194 with an elevation of 165m above sea level. While at the camp site, the team of biologists plus the volunteers carefully identified the bird species from the Birds for West Africa guide book. They went ahead to compare the physical characteristics of the bird caught with the cameras, with that from the book. It was discovered that it was the Ibadan Malimbe. Even though photographs had been taken of the red-headed Malimbe (Malimbus rubricollis) and some other Malimbes, the team made sure that it was a different species from these Malimbes
First ever captured in the town of Ibadan Nigeria, the Ibadan malimbe is about 20 cm large, .Themales have scarlet head, neck, throat and breast and the red colour on breast extends onto belly. The rest of the feathers are black. The adult females have red confined to crown and nape with thin, red breast band. They produce a chup ee wurr followed by a wheez sound.
Current IUCN red list has categorized this bird as Endangered. It is in the Family of Ploceidae (Weaver allies). It has a population size range of 930-2900 mature individuals and the distribution size (breeding/resident) is 13,200 kilometer square.
The species name was given by Elgood. According to Elgood et al. 1994, Malimbus ibadanensis was known only in South Western Nigeria in the following sites; Ibadan, Ife, Iperu and Ilaro. This bird was also spotted in Kakum National park in Ghana but records are yet to be confirmed. Thus it was thought that the home range of Ibadan Malimbe was limited to South-West Nigeria and the Kakum National Park of Ghana.
Malimbus ibadanensis is known to inhabit forest patches, forest edges, secondary woodland and even highly degraded farmland and gardens. According to Manu et al.2005, the species abundance in the forest patches decreases with increased isolation, although it seem to be unaffected by the area of forest fragments and can persist in patches as small as 0.2 kilometer square.
With widespread forest clearing for cocoa plantations in the Tofala-Mone forest corridor and the lack of knowledge regarding the status of Malimbus ibadanesis in Cameroon, the researchers are calling for an urgent need for further research to determine the conservation status of this colorful bird in the Tofala area and give it the protection it deserves.
By Allen Enokenwa Tabi
As part of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation’s goal to restore Cameroons Mountains and watersheds, the organization and her partner Fauna Flora International (FFI) are working to ensure the restoration of some of the threatened species back in West Africa’s highest peak, the Mt Cameroon National park and environs. To this effect, ERuDeF intends raising some 30,000 seedlings this 2013 which would be planted out in the wild. This was disclosed by the project coordinator for the Mt Cameroon threatened trees, Ms Asa’a Lemawah during the planning meeting of ERuDeF which held from the 7th -11th of January in Buea. Already, the organization has raised over 9,000 seedlings at the Buea central tree nursery and 2,000 at a temporal nursery in the Mokoko area.
Speaking shortly after the meeting, Ms Asa’a explained that the initiative to double their efforts this 2013 is resulting from biodiversity loss on Mount Cameroon due to over-hunting and deforestation. She said indiscriminate logging of the species like the critically endangered Microberlinia bisulcata by illegal operators especially in the Mokoko and southern Bakundu reserves makes the conservation of the species a difficult task. “Farmers have also put down trees to grow their crops and this process of deforestation has had a heavy toll on the local population of Buea. With the disappearance of forests, many water bodies which derive their source from the Mountains are tampered with and the effect is evident with the sustained increase in water shortage within the Buea municipality and beyond” Ms Asa’a cried foul.
She explained that the tree planting would be done together with some communities around the Mt Cameroon National Park, hear her “Nurseries are being established at the premises of the Delegation for Forestry, Buea, and subsequently in some four communities around the Park, Bova I, Bafia, Bakingili and Bomana. These threatened species would be raised would subsequently be planted out in the wild. This would build the capacities of the communities on tree nursery establishment and management instill tree planting attitudes and commitment in them” Ms Asa’a however identified some challenges such as slow adaptability of some of the species being raised at the nursery and the nursery in Buea has attained full capacity of plants and now requires expansion.
IBiNS matriculates pioneer batch of conservation leaders
Be conservation ambassadors of change! young trainees told
The Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit Studies, IBiNS has sworn in its first batch of trainees in a formal ceremony that took place at the Institute’s Campus in Buea on the 30thJanuary, 2013. Delivering the academic discourse, the Chair of scientific committee of the Institute, Dr. Chuyong George lauded the students for making the brilliant choice of doing research on the environment and called on them to be ambassadors of the biodiversity. Dr. Chuyong explained that the biodiversity provides goods and services for the most fundamental of human needs ranging from food, medicine, with 80% of the world’s population still using plants as medicine based on ancestral knowledge and close to 30% of all pharmaceuticals developed from plants and animals. He called on the matriculating students to therefore champion the conservation struggle by living a more sustainable life and influencing others around them to conserve the biodiversity.
A cross section of trainees taking the matriculation oath
The Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit studies, IBiNS it would be recalled is the capacity and scientific building division of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF. The Institute has as goal to train the next generation of conservation leaders as well as serve as a center for excellence for Biodiversity Research and Non-profit studies in Cameroon, the Central African Region and Africa.
Officially opening the occasion, the Board chair of ERuDeF, Eric Akemnda could hardly hide his excitement on the realization of a dream “ I am full of excitement as we all gather here today to celebrate the first matriculation of IBiNS” Mr. Akemnda was quick to remind the audience that it was exactly one year since the Institute was launched and he was proud to say the Institute is not just out to train environmental researchers, but employers and the next generation of Chief Executive Officers given that the courses are tailored to make the trainees self-employed, not job seekers. He urged the students to work hard and keep the flag of the Institute flying. Mr. Akemnda went on to say the training was one of its kind given that upon completion of studies, 95% of the graduates would be absorbed by the mother organization, ERuDeF. “At IBiNS, we intend to set the pace in conservation science development in Cameroon. Some of the specialized programmes offered amongst others include Certificate Diploma, Postgraduate and Master Programmes in Mountain Studies, Water Resource Management, Environmental Journalism, Fundraising, NGO studies, Applied social Research and Forestry and Climate Change” Mr. Akemnda added.
On his part, the pioneer Director of the Institute, Dr. Okolle Justin stressed that the Institute will go a long way in supporting the development of environmental reporting which has hitherto been neglected in the country. He explained that the trainees would learn the courses in a non-conventional way, with 70% of practical, 15% instructions and 15% self study. Dr. Okolle insisted that at the end of the academic year, a student must show prow of having mastered the techniques for fundraising, writing a project proposal and publishing research results in peer-reviewed journals.
Co-chairing the event, the South West Delegate for Vocational training, Foretia James lauded the initiative of the school, describing it as the first in Anglophone Cameroon “ I have known of vocational training centers, but I have hardly known of one like IBiNS which trains young people in conservation science. This Institute will help policy making given that with their expertise, our ministry will be able to draft new examination schemes and syllabuses that would be used in case other Institutes of this nature crop up”. On behalf of his Ministry, the Delegate pledged total collaboration wherever need arises.
One of the trainees, Ndimuh Betrand expressed himself “I chose Environmental Journalism because I have realized that there is a gap in Cameroon’s media landscape as far as environmental reporting is concerned. Research in this field will permit me disseminate information to Cameroonians on some of the best ways in protecting our rich environment”.