Saving The Largest Frog On Earth

Mount Nlonako has been termed as a veritable hotspot of African amphibians, mammals and reptile species. Unfortunately, these species are said to be teetering near extinction in recent times due to numerous human interferences. The Nlonako mountain is home to the largest and longest living frog on earth, the Goliath frog. It measures between 17 to 52cm and weighs 3250 grams. The population of the goliath frog in the wild is rapidly decreasing due to accelerated habitat loss through degradation/deforestation and hunting of their meat for food and for the expanding bush meat trade. The most threatening, are the new sophisticated traps used in catching these species now been scrupulously used in the Nkongsamba area of Cameroon. The Nlonako Mountain is ranked among the top 10 mountain ecosystems in Cameroon. The mountain is known to host a total of 93 amphibian species (Hermann et al., 2005a) which constitute Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all 236 amphibian species recorded for Cameroon (Lebreton, 1999). Mt Nlonako is the most species rich single-locality of amphibian fauna in Africa (Hermann et al., 2005). Historically this area has served as a refuge during drastic climate fluctuations. The fluctuations and refuges played an important role in the evolution of the high number of (endemic) amphibian species.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Goliath frog is an endangered species because of a 50% decline in population size in the last three generations. Lack of employment and livelihood opportunities has pushed the local and indigenous population in and around the Mount Nlonako area to engage into hunting of this charismatic amphibians for income and protein. Following a study carried out by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation in 2016 it was discovered that on an average the local hunters hunt twice a week and harvest an average of 10-15 frogs a week, resulting to an estimated harvest of 19,440 frogs every peak season.

In order to curb threats to the Goliath frog and other threatened amphibian species of Mount Nlonako, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is committed in saving the endangered wildlife and their habitat. ERuDeF aims to save this species through the creation and management of the proposed Ekom Nkam waterfall Sanctuary; promotion of applied research; promotion of good landscape governance; restoration of degraded habitat; promotion of education for sustainable development and promotion of local economic development and sustainable finance.

ERuDeF’s plan to rescue amphibians and curb the illegal wildlife and bush meat trade is critical. Every Goliath frog rescued is important to the survival and continuation of the species. The only real hope for these amphibians is the preservation of their rainforest home. Those that cannot survive in the wild are given a life-long home. However, their offspring are candidates for future reintroduction into the wild.

Celebrating the International Day of Biological Diversity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

The year 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in human history given the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives around the globe. The 2020 edition of the International Day of Biological Diversity is therefore celebrated in another context unlike the past editions. A lot have changed with our environment as coronavirus continues to spread around the world with no slightest intentions of stopping. we now breath clean air unlike before given the lockdown measures put in place by most governments to contain the spread of the deadly virus around the world.

Celebrated under the theme
“Our solutions are in the nature”, the 2020 edition of the International Day of
Biological Diversity is seen as a unique day for the human race to re-examine its
relationship with the natural world. Climate change is staring us in the face,
some species are gradually disappearing, clean water and air is becoming a
luxury. All of these dysfunctions are caused principally by human activities.
For us to reverse this dysfunction, we need a concerted action- from micro to
macro, or put differently, from local to international.

ERuDeF’s efforts in biodiversity conservation
and restoration

In her 20 years of existence,
the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has been working
tirelessly and ceaselessly in conserving biodiversity in Cameroon. Many of her
projects and programs are directed toward this direction as outlined below.

ERuDeF’s restoration projects/programme has greatly helped in bringing back biodiversity in ecosystems that are experiencing continues biodiversity loss. One of such projects in this direction is the Mount Bamboutos Initiative that is expected to restore 35000ha of land in the degraded Mount Bamboutos in western Cameroon. Due to anthropogenic activities such as poaching, deforestation, bush fires, poor farming practices and urbanization, the Mount Bamboutos landscape has been severely degraded. This project is expected to span for 15 years with its pilot phase ending in 2021. The Project will plant 15 million trees, serve 30.000 people and benefit close to 5 million people.

Youth planting tree in Bafou, west Region, Cameroon

Also, The Mandara Mountain Initiative, just like the Mount Bamboutos Initiative will also help to plant 15 million trees to serve the Lake Tchad that is fast drying off. This project will also last for 15 years. Just like the two projects mentioned above, the Adamawa initiative will equally restore the the fast degrading Adamawa plateau in northern Cameroon with the planting of over 10 million tree.

ERuDeF has also initiated the the Cameroon Environmental Education Initiative (CEEI) which is designed to educate people on the importance of protecting the environment. This initiative that was initiated and tested in 2014 in the Libialem Highlands has been very successful. The Lebialem Highlands Environmental Education Association (LHEEA) was formed to support the continuity of this program. So far fifty Environmental clubs have been created and managed by the LHEEA in schools across the Tofala, Mak-Betchou, Mount Bamboutos and Tofala-mone conservation areas.

The also the ERuDeF Institute of Applied Biodiversity Sciences has also championed environmental education in Buea, chief town of the Southwest region of Cameroon.

ERuDeF has equally championed creation of conservation corridors, uninterrupted areas of forest and other habitats rich in biodiversity that link protected areas.  The creation of protected areas and conservation corridors has greatly helped in the protection of biodiversity. These corridors include, the Tofala-Mone Corridor Project, Lebialem Highlands in Western Cameroon This project succeeded to create the bio-bridge or a genetic corridor linking the great apes of the Tofala to those of the Takamanda-mone landscape.  

The Deng Deng-Dja conservation corridor just like the Tofala-Mone Corridor seeks to facilitate wildlife migration from Northern Cameroon to South Western Cameroon through Nigeria and to south Eastern Cameroon to join the greater Congo Basin forest. ERuDeF is helping to create this corridor with support from a number of partners amongst which is World Land Trust (WLT).

All the efforts put by ERuDeF just like other organisations around the world to conserve and/or restore biodiversity need to be boosted by the local governments. The time to act is now, “Our solutions are in the nature”.

Mount Oku: A Veritable Biodiversity Hotspot

Mount Oku, with a height of 3,000 meters, is the second-tallest mountain along the Cameroon Volcanic Line, which begins as a string of islands in the Gulf of Guinea and continues inland along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria.

Oku itself is situated in the Western High Plateau, an inland region of the chain that is of particular interest to researchers. This is due to many of the dormant volcanoes hosting unique species, which are kept, separate from their relatives in pockets of high-elevation rainforest. Within the past 15 years however, Mount Oku has begun to receive special attention within this volcanic group.

‘In the past, this area was conserved by Birdlife International who aimed to conserve forest birds found only on Mount Oku,’ said Blackburn, a UK based amphibian biologist. However, recent work by amphibian biologists on Mount Oku, shows that new species have been discovered and described, including quite a number of frogs that are found only on Mount Oku or very near to the mountain.

In fact, of the 50 amphibian species currently thought to inhabit Mount Oku, five – six, if the newly described Phrynobatrachus is indeed a new species, amphibians are endemic;seven are endemic to the Western Highland Plateau.

Mount Oku is unique, in part, as it possesses a particular quality that many other mountains lack: a crater lake. One frog species, the Lake Oku clawed frog, (Xenopus longipes) is found only in that crater lake, and another, the Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock) is found only in the forest around the lake. This rainforest, with a high summit and grasslands at the peak, makes Mount Oku a unique site within Cameroon as it contains a large host of endemic species.

The amphibians on the mountain are threatened by a cocktail of danger, including deforestation, climate change, pesticide use, and over-exploitation. There has also been an increase in chytrid fungus on the mountain in recent years.

Some management measures that have been put
in place to conserve this biodiversity hot spot include the following; (1) Establishing a code of best practice for
controlled burns on the summit by grazers. This is the first action plan
produced for this irreplaceable and valuable ecosystem. It will be subsequently
reviewed on a periodical basis to enable its adaptive management. (2) Engaging with bee keepers, who work at or
near the summit, to reduce risk of fires.(3) Researching ecosystem quality of the summit (4) Conducting a census of livestock owners on
the summit and enumerating the actual number.

Chameleons Pet Trade Banned in Mount Muanenguba Area

Chiefs and traditional rulers of communities within the Mouamenem clan (in the Mount Muanenguba area) in the Littoral Region, Cameroon have banned the collection/harvesting of Chameleons for the international pet trade in their communities. This ban was placed recently following an observed reduction in the number of Chameleon for cultural activities within this area. Locals … Read more

ERuDeF Institute Launches the Cameroon Amphibians Conservation Initiative

The ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and None-Profit Studies, ERuDeF Institute, has launched a new initiative that will provide essential scientific information as well as support the conservation of amphibians in Cameroon dubbed the Cameroon Amphibians Conservation Initiative. Launched last April, on the occasion of the World Amphibians Day, this innovative and multidisciplinary initiative comes to … Read more

Urgent Actions Needed To Save Frogs in Cameroon-Louis Nkembi

[one_third][/one_third]The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Louis Nkembi, has underscored the need for drastic actions to be taken to save frog species in Cameroon. Speaking Saturday April 29, 2017, on the occasion of the 9th edition of the World Amphibians Day, the ERuDeF boss noted that frogs … Read more

ERuDeF Battling the Extinction of Goliath, World’s Biggest Frog

[one_third][/one_third]Listed as Endangered on the Red List of the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), goliath, the world’s biggest and most endemic frog specie currently risks extinction given wanton hunting and habitat destruction in the Nlonako Mountains Littoral Region Cameroon. Endemic to the Nlonako and Muanenguba Conservation Complex and parts of Equatorial Guinea, … Read more

Saving the Amphibians of Mount Nlonako in Littoral-Cameroon

[one_half][/one_half]Mt. Nlonako is found in the Littoral Region of Cameroon and is located between 4°49’-4°56’N and from 9°56’-10°01’E encompassing approximately 15,000 ha (Herman et al). The western and northern flanks face the town of Nkongsamba, and the busy road between Douala and Bamenda. The slopes on this side are heavily cultivated with the forest destroyed … Read more