[one_third][/one_third]A student of GTC Abebue, Esso-Attah, Atabong Sylvanus, has decided to reject the hunting of chimpanzees and become a passionate wildlife conserver.
“I have been hunting chimpanzees together with my father ever since I was a small boy, and till date I still hunt them. I also lead other hunters to parts of the forest where chimpanzees are found because I have a good understanding of their daily lives, active times and when to get them,” said Atabong.
Atabong made the confession on February 2, 2015 during a visit made by ERuDeF’s Junior Coordinator for Environmental Education, Ndip Esaka, to the adjacent communities of the proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary in Lebialem Division.
Atabong owned up during conservation lessons in schools to discuss the threats faced by the great apes in this region.
“I now understand the threats facing these animals, the important roles they play in the environment and that they are our closest wild relatives. As from now, I will stop hunting them and do my best to make sure they and their habitats are protected from harmful human activities, and other hunters,” Atabong said with a smile.
He took along some posters on chimpanzee conservation to paste in his home and surrounding communities to express his change in attitude and commitment to saving and protecting the chimpanzee population.
The Lebialem Highlands is a biodiversity hotspot in Cameroon. It provides habitats to many endemic and other wildlife species such as the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, the Cross River Gorilla, forest elephants, Drills, Bannerman’s Turaco, Putty-nosed monkeys, Red-capped mangabey, to name a just this few, as well as many African plants.
Nonetheless, this hotspot faces a lot of human pressure like illegal hunting and trapping, conversion of forest to farmlands, illegal logging, use of chemical fertilizers on farms which in turn contaminate water resources.
“The future of our environment depends on our collective efforts,” said Atabong.
By Ndip Esaka Emmanuel