[one_third][/one_third]The African Conservation Officer of Rainforest Trust Dr. Sally Laahm, recently undertook a trip to the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) to evaluate the organization and her conservation areas. The Rainforest Trust African Conservation Officer spent 10 days with the organization both in the office and her project areas notably the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary, Muanengouba Mountain, and Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. At the end of her 10 day expedition, she granted an interview to the ERuDeF Programme E-newsletter (EPE) during which she gave an appraisal of the organization and her conservation areas. Read on!
EPE: Who is Sally?
Sally : I am the African Conservation Officer of Rainforest Trust. My Background is wildlife ecology and biological anthropology. I am also a research scientist working in African countries since 1982.
EPE: This is your first encounter with ERuDeF. After spending 10 days with her what do you think about the organization?
Dr. Sally : ERuDeF has a lot of activities on the ground already for many years, especially a lot of great projects with communities adjacent to existing and proposed protected areas. So I am very impressed
EPE: One of the areas you visited is the beautiful caldera of the Muanengouba Mountain which is host to some endangered amphibians. What is your appreciation of this area?
Sally : Well!, I think the area in question is of high conservation value but there are livestock herders and farmers living and working next to it, which is an issue that needs to be addressed as the population expands. I definitely think that it is a high conservation project to strive to achieve.
EPE: You also visited the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. What is your take on this area?
Dr. Sally : It is a biologically reach area, we weren’t there for very long, but we saw many signs of the presence of Gorillas and Chimpanzees, very close to the camp that is used regularly by the ERuDeF team. I did not have the opportunity to travel farther into the sanctuary, but again it is of very high conservation value. It is surrounded by villages in which ERuDeF already has some good number of livelihood projects. I think that the Tofala Hill Wildlife sanctuary is a project which definitely needs funding to proceed further to achieve the legislative processes that are needed for these projects.
EPE: You just came back from the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary, where you camped for two nights. Do you think it is worth the protection?
Dr. Sally : Oh! Most definitely, it is. As a wildlife biologist, I saw so many signs of other wildlife including antelopes and other larger mammals indicating that human pressure is very low. Again, I regret for not being able to have an extended visit, but I appreciate from a biological conservation view point. I think it needs protection as soon as possible especially with human communities living around it and the pressure that they have for land and resources.
EPE: After ascending and descending so many very difficult trails in the dense rainforests do think your discovery is worth the stress?
Dr. Sally : I did not see it as being stressful but I regret that I did not have enough time to spend more days in the forest as to fully appreciate the area. I am always happy to go up mountains, and through swamps to see areas that are important for the conservation of wildlife and the environment.
EPE: You visited CWCS in Douala and ERuDeF in Buea, what do you take back to Rainforest from Cameroon?
Dr. Sally : Am very impressed with both NGOs and I hope to find more national NGOs in Cameroon. Cameroon has a very biological and ethically diverse culture. To receive the attention that it should have. I found some very dedicated people in Cameroon and hope to find more to hopefully fund some more projects in this country.
EPE: ERuDeF sent you proposal for the conservation of these areas you have visited, what do you think about that proposal especially after being to these areas yourself?
Dr. Sally : I cannot say much at this juncture, but the reason I am here is because we we re already impressed with the initial proposal. So that is why I was asked to come here and evaluate ERuDeF as an organization and also do a quick evaluation of the conservation areas.
EPE: What can you say about the expedition team, the staff, the field guides and the porters who spent time with during your trip?
Dr. Sally : It was excellent! Everybody was very kind and very knowledgeable and I enjoyed all the exchanges that we had out there in the camps in the forests. The guides showed how much knowledge they had about the forest and wildlife. It’s all very good.
EPE: I admire your strength because at 66 you are able to do all these; journeying to Muanengouba, Tofala and Mak-Betchou. Where do you get this strength?
Dr. Sally : I get my strength from my ancestors just like the Africans do.
EPE: Any last words for ERuDeF?
Dr. Sally : Courage! That is what I can say. I know it is difficult to get funding. You have a lot of good projects on the ground already. I hope that we will be able to provide all the funding that you need for Tofala Hills and Mak-Betchou projects……it’s been a great pleasure to be here and I expect to be back some time next year to see the progress you have made on the projects.
Conducted By Ngwa Elvis Suh A.e able to provide all the funding that you need for Tofala Hills and Mak-Betchou projects……it’s been a great pleasure to be here and I expect to be back some time next year to see the progress you have made on the projects.
Conducted By Ngwa Elvis Suh A.