Rainforest Trust projects thrive thanks to the important conservation work of people on the ground. Our Voices from the Rainforest series brings you news from our projects in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific — from the perspectives of those working in and for the rainforests.
Merging Conservation and Local Development
Enokenwa Allen Tabi was born in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. He studied at the University of Dschang where he obtained his Masters Degree in Ecology and Wildlife Management. He has been working with the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) since 2011, where he now serves as Deputy Chief of Programs.
His work in wildlife conservation has contributed to the creation of the first protected area in the Lebialem Highlands: Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Enokenwa is now in the process of creating the second protected area, Njoagwi-Fotabong III-Essoh Attah Wildlife Sanctuary.
Why did you become a conservationist?
My decision to become a conservationist began when I was still in University. I was attracted to conservation because I wanted to contribute toward the protection of our environment. I also thought that in the current state of biodiversity degradation and environmental destruction, my contribution would not be felt if I did not get engaged directly in the field.
What inspires you most or makes you proud about being a Fellow?
What inspires me in being a Fellow are the skills that I will acquire from the other Fellows. I can share knowledge of my field experience, understand the culture of others, as well as create a network to continue important conservation work.
Tell us about a conservation challenge in your job.
The conservation challenge I have is changing the attitude of local populations in favour of conservation, as well as to mobilize substantial financial resources to support their alternative livelihood activities.
Tell us about a conservation success.
The creation of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest successes that I have recorded so far. This Sanctuary safeguards a population of about 45 Cross River Gorillas and over 120 Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees and other threatened species. Also, over 14 hunters have been converted to local conservationists in the Lebialem Highlands landscape.
Tell us about a time that you felt you had made a difference as a conservationist.
Before the creation of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in 2014, the local population was very resistant. They did not see the need for protecting the area. But with persistent sensitization at all levels, they finally realized the importance of conservation.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is to reconcile conservation and local development. Persuading people to leave part, or all, of their traditional way of life for the benefit of conservation with less or no alternative to offer them is difficult. This is the main reason as to why conservation goals are not always achieved.
Why is conservation important?
All life has just one home the earth. We as the dominant species must take care of it through conservation.
Header image: Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Rainforest Trust.