Cameroon is a key country for the enthusiastic birder with over 928 species and a host of endemic and near endemics. It is positioned strategically in both West and Central Africa with a wide range of habitats which includes forests, mountains, lakes and desert. As a result, it is a good place to see members of many bird families such as kingfishers, barbets, turacos, bee-eaters, hornbills, greenbuls, sunbirds, shrikes and weavers.
In the far north, large concentrations of waterbirds such as White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata and Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus can be found along with a great variety of raptors. Further south are the transition zones of the Adamawa plateau in the Mbam Djerem National Park and the lowland evergreen forests. In the western part of the country is the Cameroon Mountain Arc with the Afro-tropical mountain vegetation type. This is where the endangered endemic species such as Mount Cameroon Francolin Francolinus camerunensis, Mount Kupé Bush-Shrike Telophorus kupeensis and Bannerman’s Turaco Tauraco binnermani are found. There are also several freshwater systems such as River Sanaga and Nyong and a few lakes e.g. Lake Magba and Lake Maga where waterbirds such as cormorants, darters, storks and herons can be seen. The south-west of the country has a 350 km coastline with a marine ecosystem that provides a roosting ground for a host of migratory species.
Current State and Trends of Birds in Cameroon
The Avifauna of Cameroon currently stands at about 928 species. Of these, 703 species are resident, 218 are seasonal migrants (145 from the Palearctic—11 having a resident population too—and 73 intra-African) and seven species are endemic to Cameroon.
Threats to Birds of Cameroon
In Cameroon, Birds and Biodiversity as a whole are being threatened by:
Land-Use Change: The quest for land for agricultural development is one of the principal threats to birds. Land use change have resulted from industrial agriculture with increasing conversion of forests, savanna’s and even semi-arid lands to mono-culture plantations, unsustainable agricultural/pastoral expansion, mineral exploitation in biodiversity-rich locations, and the poor coordination or absence of the land use plans.
Unsustainable Exploitation of Natural Resources: Over-exploitation and the use of unsustainable practices also constitute a major threat to birds in Cameroon. Illegal exploitation of bird species and excessive poaching for food and commercial purposes is a threat to Avifauna.
Pollution: Different sources and types of pollution contribute to the degradation of all ecosystems and threaten birds’ species. Identified is pollution from urban waste, Agro-industrial waste, pollution from offshore and land based sources and air pollution.
Climate Change: Climate change and climate variation are major sources of pressure on the health of ecosystems inducing changes with increasing negative impact on fragile ecosystems especially in the semi-arid, Savannah, freshwater and marine/coastal ecosystems. Increase in temperature and inversely drop in rainfall, river discharge and sea level rise.
To ensure long-term sustainability of critical ecosystems in order to conserve and protects birds as well as reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2025.
Strategic objective 1
To address the causes of biodiversity degradation/loss by reducing the direct and indirect pressures on birds and biodiversity as a whole
- By 2025, at least 80% of the populations are aware of the importance of birds with an increased knowledge on the link and impact of human activities on birds and ecosystems.
- By 2025, significant increase in the contribution of scientifically-based information into biodiversity decision making processes and management interventions.
- By 2025, all forms of pollution from water and land-based activities are brought to levels that are non-detrimental to ecosystem functions.
- By 2025, an ecologically sustainable system of production and consumption is established based on sustainable practices with appropriate investments.
- By 2025, Biodiversity-related laws and regulations are strengthened and made coherent in order to avoid conflicting uses and combat illegal practices.
Strategic objective 2
To maintain and improve the status of birds by safeguarding ecosystems, habitats, species and genetic diversity.
- By 2025, the rate of degradation and fragmentation of ecosystems and the loss in habitats is significantly reduced at least by half.
- By 2025, endemic and threatened bird species should be protected/or sustainably managed.
- By 2025, degraded ecosystems/habitats should be rehabilitated to re-establish and/or recover lost species and maintained at a level of conservation that ensures long-term sustainability.
- By 2025, the negative impacts of Climate Change and Climate Variation on ecosystems and human well-being are significantly reduced through ecosystem-based climate change adaptation measures.
- By 2025, the genetic diversity of bird species should be maintained.
Strategic objective 3
To promote integrated ecosystem management and the sustainable use of biodiversity
- By 2025, community-based biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management approaches should be promoted.
- By 2025, the development and implementation of a comprehensive program for the valuation of birds should have been realized.
- By 2025, best practices in the sustainable use of biodiversity will have been adopted by local communities.
Strategic objective 4
To promote the integration of biodiversity in sector and local level planning and development.
- By 2025, the sharing of benefits from payments for the sustainable utilization of biodiversity, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge should increase incomes of local communities.
- By 2025, biodiversity-related coordination mechanisms should be fully functional and strengthened
- By 2025, key production sectors and decentralized local authorities should have developed sector or region-specific biodiversity targets, linked to the national targets.
- By 2025, the capacity of key actors should be built and gender mainstreaming carried out for the effective implementation of the biodiversity targets.
The bird conservation programme will be implemented through research, training and capacity building, and community engagement.