By Shuimo Trust.
A new species of bird has been discovered in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in the Lebialem Highlands, Western Cameroon, known as the White-crested hornbill (Horizocerus albocristatus). This discovery is thanks to the ongoing bio-monitoring spearheaded by ERuDeF, with funding from the Thin Green Line Foundation and ARCUS Foundation.
“This is monumental in our journey to save the different species of fauna and flora on this landscape. Despite the crisis that has adversely affected our conservation efforts on this landscape, we continue to achieve milestones together with local communities who are committed to keeping the lebialem Highlands intact with regards to conservation, Loius Nkembi, President/CEO OF ERuDeF said. He continued “we have also been able to reconfirm the existence of species such as the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, pangolins just to name a few. We have also recorded signs of Cross River Gorilla in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary”
As a result of the Anglophone arm conflict in western Cameroon where the Lebialem Highlands is located, conservation activities have been adversely affected with almost conservation organizations quitting this biodiversity haven.
ERuDeF has braved the odds and is using locals of this landscape as community rangers to advance conservation in what is now known as the Community Rangers Support Project. These rangers have been involved in bio-monitoring since 2021, especially in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.
I saw it
Nkemkedju Andreas is the lead community ranger conducting bio-monitoring in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. He has been a community ranger with ERuDeF for 7 years now. He didn’t know that the White-crested hornbill existed in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. Adreas had just planted a camera trap in one of his favourite spots in the Tofala Hills Sanctuary. As he was rounding off with the process, he heard a strange sound behind him. “it was flapping its wings invitingly, the long-tailed bird is so beautiful. This was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever had in the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary”, Nkemkedju Andreas narrated his encounter with the White-crested hornbill.
The Lebialem highlands also play host to the endangered Bannerman’s Turaco and other bird species of conservation importance. Also, this landscape also has a population of about 30 critically endangered Cross River Gorillas and over 300 endangered Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees.