[one_third][/one_third]The Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex (LHCC) harbours protected areas including the Tofala Hills Wildlife Sanctuary created in September 2014 and two proposed protected areas like Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mount Bamboutous Integral Ecological Reserve. These areas are host to a population of near-endemic large mammal species like the Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla dielhi), Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) and for birds like Bannerman Turaco (Turaco bannermani). It is also rich in botanical species of ecological, cultural and economic importance. It is one Cameroon’s bird watching area.
Endorsed by government in 2010, this highland is inhabited by some 20 communities drawn from different ethnic groups of various origins with hunting, farming, small-scale logging and Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) collection as principal occupations. A majority of the primary and secondary schools students in the area are from low income families depending roughly on US$1 per day for survival. More than 40% of hunters and petty scale farmers in the locality are drop outs from schools due to poverty. School-age children in these communities are victims of several nutritional problems such as: stunting, low body weight and micronutrient malnutrition, including deficiencies of iron, iodine and vitamin and this adversely affects their school performance. Moreover, more than 95% of schools in the area do not have schools gardens and more than 80% of environmental club coordinators lack knowledge in school garden management.
These activities are gradually assuming magnitudes that threaten to ruin the biodiversity of the Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex, especially animals and trees of economic value, due to poverty and high demand for bush meat for protein and timber.
With just about USD250000. life fences in schools and planting of ornamental trees will be establish, over 150 school environmental club coordinators trained on school garden maintenance and value chain development. Such will aid over 6000 students and community members will gain agro forestry skills through the multiplier effect of school garden establishment and management; school gardens would also have contributed to enhancing children’s learning capacities as well as contributing to the eradication of the root causes of poverty. Meanwhile 20 tons of food will be produced annually to feed over 2000 students from under privileged families and the rate of school dropout reduced thereby contributing to the reduction of pressure in the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has however been intervening for conservation of this highlands in various ways for the past 16 years. Get more about her conservation efforts at: www.erudef.org, www.erudefinstitute.org, www.erudefivp.org, www.folkfilmmaking.org. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com