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Shaggy rainforests, long snaking rivers and lush wetlands characterize Cameroon’s coastal Atlantic forests. Within this ecoregion sits the Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve, created in 1932 and recently identified as one of the most important conservation landscapes in Central Africa.
The reserve’s forests are home to several threatened primates including the Central Chimpanzee and Gabon Black Colobus Monkey, while also serving as a refuge for a small population of African Forest Elephants. The reserve’s labyrinth wetlands and marine habitats are a haven for birdlife and threatened marine species such as the West African Manatee and Atlantic Humpback Dolphin. Furthermore, the Green and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles all nest on the reserve’s beaches and the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle occur offshore.
Despite this area’s high biodiversity value, much of it still remains unprotected and threatened by growing resource pressure from neighboring towns. Rainforest Trust is working with local partner Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS) to elevate the protected status of the 395,200-acre Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve to a national park while expanding it with an additional 98,800 acres of mangrove forests, rivers and wetlands along with 247,000 acres of marine habitat. Collectively, this designation as a national park along with the area’s overall expansion will comprehensively safeguard a total of 741,000 acres of coastal forest, mangrove and marine habitats, protecting both the integrity and connectivity of this amazingly diverse ecosystem.
Key Species (Based on IUCN Red List)
Hawksbill Turtle (CR); Central Chimpanzee (EN), Green Turtle (EN), Leatherback Turtle (VU), West African Manatee (VU); African Forest Elephant (VU); Gabon Black Colobus Monkey (VU); Olive Ridley (VU); Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (VU); Black-winged Pratincole (NT), Lesser Flamingo (NT)
Coastal Atlantic rainforest
Habitat loss and fragmentation; poaching
Elevate status of Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve to national park and expand it by 345,800 acres
Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS)
Cost Per Acre
Habitats within Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve span terrestrial, marine, river and lake ecosystems, supporting a diverse suite of both terrestrial and aquatic species.
The Central Chimpanzee, one of West Africa’s most imperiled primates, is found within Douala-Edea’s forests along with other rare species such as the Gabon Black Colobus Monkey. Numerous species of forest antelope and a small population of African Forest Elephants also live in the area. The reserve is a haven for birdlife, with over 70 water birds documented. Rare species such as the Lesser Flamingo and Black-winged Pratincole have been observed, in addition to many migrants such as the African Openbill that uses the rich wetlands as an important stop on its annual migrations. Along with its coastal and mangrove wildlife, Douala-Edea supports many aquatic and marine species ranging from crocodiles to West African Manatees. Importantly, the area’s lakes and estuaries support a population of threatened Atlantic Humpback Dolphins and a wide variety of marine fishes and invertebrates. Furthermore, the Green and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles all nest on the reserve’s beaches and the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle occur offshore.
Douala-Edea’s wildlife is highly threatened from habitat degradation and pressures put on the area from a growing and rapidly urbanizing population.
Access to the area by water and road from nearby cities has resulted in unsustainable poaching, fishing, plantation agriculture, petroleum exploration and the massive cutting of mangrove forests for fish smoking. A lack of manpower makes it difficult for poorly-equipped rangers to effectively patrol or enforce the protected area. For example, elephant populations in Douala-Edea have declined since 1998 while manatees are hunted and trapped in fishing nets. Other wildlife is routinely hunted. Without a concerted effort to expand protection and manage this area, Douala-Edea faces a grim future.
More than 10,000 people from 40 villages live in and around Douala-Edea. Many of these people are subsistence fishermen.
The main ethnic groups in the area are the Bakoko, Pongo and Malimba tribes whose main dialects are Yakalag and Douala. These groups have lived in the area for centuries. Recent settlers to the region from central Cameroon are the Bassa and Ewondos tribes, while settlers from the Graffi, Bamileke and Bayangi of western Cameroon have recently been attracted to the area by economic opportunities. Other nationalities found in the area come from neighboring West African countries, mainly Nigeria and Ghana, and have been attracted to Douala-Edea by the local fishing industry, which constitutes the principal economic activity of the coastal areas. Since 2006, local partner CWCS has worked toward providing technical assistance on new livelihood projects and management of mangrove forests in the area. As a result, communities are included in the establishment of the reserve and in the support of conservation efforts in the area.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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