Discover how primates, locals of Cameroon’s Deng Deng National Park are exposed to zoonosis

Primates in the Deng Deng National Park such as the endangered Gorillas and Chimpanzees are likely to suffer the effect of Zoonosis (transfer of diseases from humans to animals and vice versa). This is so due to the high encroachment into wildlife habitat. The life cycle and mode of transmission of intestinal parasites increase the chances of cross host infection between phylogenetically related or non-related species and re-infection of species.

The serious threat that parasites can  impose  on  endangered  wildlife  species  is  increasingly  recognized,  as it  is    important  in  preserving biodiversity in wildlife ecosystems and controlling the emergence or re-emergence of diseases. Sensitization and mindset change is of great importance in the communities around the Deng Deng National Park to secure the future of primates and prevent the outbreak of diseases.

Human encroachment into wildlife habitat may increase rates and severity of parasitism via the direct route of cross-host transmission between phylogenetically related species (Preslar, 1998) and in some instances non phylogenetically related species (Linda, 2013).

Angwa Gwendoline has been working closely with communities around the Deng Deng National Park for some years now. With the emergence of COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases, she is very worried at the rate at which locals of this area are getting close to primates most especially, and other wildlife species. Hear her “the rate at which people in this area are increasing getting in contact with primates and other wildlife species is alarming. This increasing contact will probably expose them to zoonotic diseases”

Many species of wildlife today, inhabits relatively small areas because the vast forest that existed in the past has been destroyed by human activities and as a consequence, diseases appear to be more common in wild populations (Kock, 1995; Lilly et al., 2002 and Gillespie et al., 2008). To support this fact, a survey of emerging pathogens in wildlife was conducted in North America by Dobson and Foufopoulos in 2001and they found out that human involvement facilitated 55% of pathogen outbreaks.

233 critically endangered species listed by the IUCN, were alleged threatened by infectious diseases (Smith et al., 2006). These diseases are regarded as the cause of fluctuation or decline in biological population (Macphee and Greenwood, 2012). Wildlife diseases have historically gained attention primarily when they were considered a threat to agricultural systems and the economic, social, or physical health of humans (McCallum and Dobson, 1995; Holmes, 1996; Daszak et al, 2000).  These parasites may be very important to determine the host-health and show  significant  influence on survival and reproduction of populations (Scott 1988; Lewis et al. 2002; Roberts & Janovy 2008).

Coupled to the above, primates as well as other species of wildlife in the Deng Deng national Park are facing numerous problems amongst which are, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, illegal hunting, and a hosting of others. The Environment and Rural Development Foundation through its flagship program, Eastern Biodiversity Initiative is working to create a corridor from Deng Deng National Park to the Belabo Council Forest with support from World Land Trust. This corridor will provide and enhance suitable conditions for the movement of endangered species and prevent occurrences of inbreeding resulting from habitat fragmentation. ERuDeF is also supporting both the local communities of the corridor area and the Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife for Lom, to create two Community Forest Reserves of respectively 5,000 ha and 4,588 ha, to preserve a vital corridor between Deng Deng National Park (DDNP) and Belabo Council Forest in Eastern Cameroon

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