Mount Nlonako has been termed as a veritable hotspot of African amphibians, mammals and reptile species. Unfortunately, these species are said to be teetering near extinction in recent times due to numerous human interferences. The Nlonako mountain is home to the largest and longest living frog on earth, the Goliath frog. It measures between 17 to 52cm and weighs 3250 grams. The population of the goliath frog in the wild is rapidly decreasing due to accelerated habitat loss through degradation/deforestation and hunting of their meat for food and for the expanding bush meat trade. The most threatening, are the new sophisticated traps used in catching these species now been scrupulously used in the Nkongsamba area of Cameroon. The Nlonako Mountain is ranked among the top 10 mountain ecosystems in Cameroon. The mountain is known to host a total of 93 amphibian species (Hermann et al., 2005a) which constitute Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all 236 amphibian species recorded for Cameroon (Lebreton, 1999). Mt Nlonako is the most species rich single-locality of amphibian fauna in Africa (Hermann et al., 2005). Historically this area has served as a refuge during drastic climate fluctuations. The fluctuations and refuges played an important role in the evolution of the high number of (endemic) amphibian species.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Goliath frog is an endangered species because of a 50% decline in population size in the last three generations. Lack of employment and livelihood opportunities has pushed the local and indigenous population in and around the Mount Nlonako area to engage into hunting of this charismatic amphibians for income and protein. Following a study carried out by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation in 2016 it was discovered that on an average the local hunters hunt twice a week and harvest an average of 10-15 frogs a week, resulting to an estimated harvest of 19,440 frogs every peak season.
In order to curb threats to the Goliath frog and other threatened amphibian species of Mount Nlonako, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is committed in saving the endangered wildlife and their habitat. ERuDeF aims to save this species through the creation and management of the proposed Ekom Nkam waterfall Sanctuary; promotion of applied research; promotion of good landscape governance; restoration of degraded habitat; promotion of education for sustainable development and promotion of local economic development and sustainable finance.
ERuDeF’s plan to rescue amphibians and curb the illegal wildlife and bush meat trade is critical. Every Goliath frog rescued is important to the survival and continuation of the species. The only real hope for these amphibians is the preservation of their rainforest home. Those that cannot survive in the wild are given a life-long home. However, their offspring are candidates for future reintroduction into the wild.