Community members from two Fondoms in Lebialem Division, and 10 villages in Kupe Muanenguba Division, have urged the Cameroon Government to create a new wildlife sanctuary in their area. They resonated their voices, during a workshop to gather their opinions over the possibility of creating the Bangwa-Mbo wildlife sanctuary, adjacent to their villages. The community members that included the Njoagwi and Essoh-Attah Fondoms in Lebialem, and the Nkongho-Mbo villages that included: Mbetta, Fonki, Njungo, Mbemfe, Lebeh, Nzelette, Ngientu, Lebock, all in Kupe Muanenguba Divisions of the Southwest Region.
According to the villagers, creating a protected area adjacent to their communities will help to protect plants and animals for the future. “I think that the rate of hunting and harvesting of plants going on around my area is alarming. We have skilled hunters who carryout such practice for a living. You can imagine how may catch they do in a day, and then multiply by several months. You will realise that if the forest is not gazetted, we may risk losing the plants and animals, such that the future generation will not savour what we have now,” intimated HRM Fotabong VL, Fon of Njoagwi.
They added that the gazetting the forest will create job opportunities for many. “We know that when the sanctuary will eventually be created, cottage industries will crop-up, that will serve as employment avenues for our villagers. Also, it will gainfully occupy the men and women, as well as children, hence, reducing the pressure on the forest,” said HRH Njigu Folebe, Chief of Lebeh village.
Organised under the slogan “Protecting Our Forest and Enjoying Benefits,” participants were bschooled on the geographical location of the proposed protected area, its flora and fauna content, as the well as the livelihoods opportunities available, should it be gazetted.
Representing the Governor of the Southwest Region, the Southwest Regional Chief of Service for Promotion and Transformation, Yves Nathan Mekembom, appreciated the initiative, noting that conservation of biodiversity is of utmost importance to the government of Cameroon. “There are 4 national Parks, 3 wildlife sanctuaries, and 21 protected forests in the Southwest Region. Having the proposed Bangwa Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary to the number of protected areas, only goes a long way to show to the world how consent South Westerners are, as well as the government of Cameroon has shown in the conservation of biodiversity,” Nathan added.
On his part, the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, said the workshop is a continuation of the process of sensitising communities adjacent to the proposed protected area. “It is a conservation constituency, calved out of part of Fontem Sub division, and another part of Nguti Subdivision. The idea is trying to create a new wildlife management area in the long run. The actors have been brought in from different villages to agree on the next steps forward,” Louis said.
By the process and procedures defined by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, the ERuDeF boss explained that it is an obligation to have a thorough and extensive consultation with the local community actors to give 100% go ahead with the process consultation.”The actors need to understand the essence of our conservation, they need to be happy with the brilliant initiative and finally give their acceptance,”
Quizzed on why the Bangwa-Mbo forest area was the point of focus, Louis Nkembi said biodiversity species are found in abundance there. Over 600 chimpanzees, over 100 elephants and small numbers of gorillas and drills make the area to become an interesting biodiversity hotspot that needs protection. To learn more about the geography of the proposed Bangwa-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary, please click here http://erudef.org/brief-geography-of-proposed-bangwa-mbo-wildlife-sanctuary/
By Yanick Fonki