Government officials have given permission to begin the process of establishing a protected area on Mount Manengouba, an ancient volcano shrouded in rainforest within the southwestern Cameroon highlands that contains a relic population of amphibians and reptiles found nowhere else in the world.
Mount Manengouba harbors 100 species of amphibians and provides habitat for more than half of the most threatened frogs and toads in Cameroon. A combination of topographic variety, lush tropical mountain cloud forest and diverse habitats has endowed this volcanic mountain with exceptional endemic biodiversity, leading it to be ranked among the highest conservation priorities in Central Africa. Despite being a global priority, this volcanic mountain is unprotected and at grave risk from deforestation due to increasing pressures for agricultural land through shifting cultivation, tree extraction for construction and livestock pasture.
This February, Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) issued a note to officially initiate the process of protecting 5,542 acres of mountain forest to prevent further hunting and habitat degradation on Mount Manengouba for the interest of highly threatened amphibians and other wildlife dependent on this area. This allowed Rainforest Trust’s partners Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF) and Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) to hold an inception workshop in March to discuss project plans and seek stakeholders’ collaboration and support in the implementation of the conservation initiative. This workshop brought together government administrative authorities from the localities of Mungo and Bangem, as well as village chiefs, elders and community members from villages around Mount Manengouba.
“One main step into the success of this project is that almost all administrative and local authorities who took part at the inception workshop are very positive about the project,” according to a report from CAMHERP-CBF.
In addition to the ongoing periodic community workshops, a project monitoring and evaluation working group was also formed to ensure that project plans are followed and the designation process includes the perspectives of all stakeholders. This monitoring team includes the administrative delegates of MINFOF from the surrounding towns of Bangem and Nkongsamba, representatives of the village chiefs, and the CEOs of CAMHERP-CBF and ERuDeF. This group will convene every three months to evaluate past project activities and determine objectives for the upcoming months.
“The issuance of a note by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to commence the gazettement process, and the subsequent official project launch and successful inclusive workshop are key aspects of the process of protected area creation in Cameroon,” said Rainforest Trust’s Africa Conservation Officer Dr. Sally Lahm.
“CAMHERP-CBF and ERuDeF are to be congratulated for their professionalism and diligence.”
Learn more about this irreplaceable amphibian hotspot in Cameroon.
Header photo: Critically Endangered Manengouba Long-fingered Frog. Photo by CAMHERP-CBF.