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09 September 2013

The Environment and sustainable development in the Cameroon press

Posted in News, Views 1583

Construction of Limbe Deep Sea Port kicks off in November


The Sun Newspaper No 0222 reported that the construction of the long awaited seaport in Limbe, SW Cameroon would commence this November with its location being moved from the original site Ngeme to Isongo given that the new site is deeper and fewer people live there making the cost to the environment and indemnities less. This was the result of a feasibility study conducted by a consultancy firm, Limbe Port Development Corporation. This sea port is expected to receive an average of 200, 000 containers every year at start up. Experts say the port will generate 20,000 jobs.

Forestry Minister pays 3-day working visit to the Southwest Region


The Minister of Forestry and wildlife, Ngolle Phillip Ngwese has paid a 3-day working visit to the Southwest Region, to see for himself the problems afflicting his sector. According to The Eden Newspaper, the Minister began his tour on August 29 in Nguti Sub-division where he held a working session with a cross section of the population to discuss the problem of land grab pitting Sithe Global Sustainable Oil Cameroon,(S.G SOC), a consortium of the US-based agro-industrial plantation, Herakles Farms and the inhabitants of Nguti. The paper recounted that S.G SOC in its contract form is supposed to plant palms and not exploit timber, unfortunately the consortium had not respected the terms given that they could not plant palms without felling trees. The Minister took time to explain to the people that the file of this consortium on this particular issue was no longer at his level, but at hierarchy's. He called on the people of Nguti to invest more on tree planting in order to maintain their forest. From Nguti, the Minister made a stopover at Kumba where he visited the depleting Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve. Minister Phillipe Ngwesse according to this same paper expressed dismay at the encroachment of the forest Reserve by some unscrupulous farmers. He instructed that the farmers be evicted from the Reserve.


Herakles Farm Case is not at my level-Minister of Forestry


The Sun Newspaper No 0222 equally reported on the Minister of Forestry's 3-day working visit to the Southwest Region. The Paper quoted the Minister Ngolle Phillip Ngwese saying the case pitting Herakles farm and Cameroon is not at his level but at the hierarchy of the country. The paper recalled that in April, the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) made the encouraging decision to suspend Herakles' efforts to develop a 73,000 hectare palm oil plantation in south west Cameroon. The US-based corporation was attempting to push ahead with the project, despite widespread opposition from communities concerned about losing their lands and livelihoods, allegations of corruption and violations of national law. According to this paper, since these crucial issues remain unaddressed, it is worrying that this decision was reversed with no explanation as yet, only for the Minister to say that the case is no longer at his level.

08 September 2013

New endangered wildlife species discovered in the Tofala forest

Posted in News, Views 1508

Preuss monkey.

A team of Researchers working for the Cameroonian conservation organization, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation(ERuDeF) have spotted another rare wildlife species the Preuss's Monkey (Cercopithecus preussi), in the Tofala forest, Lebialem Highlands. This was on August 18 during bio-montoring of great apes trip with two Volunteers Christopher and Claire from United kingdom and France respectively. The Preuss's Monkey (Cercopithecus preussi) is a white-fur moustached monkey. It was spotted at 10:30a.m while it was feeding in the forest. This species has cheek pouches to carry food while it forages and on this day, these pouches were almost full. Preuss's Monkey (Cercopithecus preussi), also known as Preuss's Guenon, is a diurnal primate that lives terrestrially in mountainous forests up to 2500 metres of Eastern Nigeria, Western Cameroon and Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. This species' population size and distribution have been severely affected by habitat destruction and hunting. For example, Cameroon's forests have been severely eroded by cultivation, fire and collection of wood for fuel. As a result, little montane forest remains in the mainland part of this species' range. This species is also highly susceptible to human predation because it is semi-terrestrial and relatively large-bodied, and hunting has led to a decline in its population across its range. It is listed as Endangered given that, it is believed to have undergone a decline exceeding 50% over the past 27 years across its restricted range, mainly as a result of increasing habitat loss in the Nigeria/ Cameroon Highlands and also from hunting. Recognized as the most endangered guenon in the Limbe Wildlife Centre, the preuss's monkey was formerly known to occur only in the Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park and on the adjacent Obudu Plateau (Nigeria), Pico Basile National Park and the Southern Highlands Scientific Reserve (Bioko), and in the Takamanda Forest Reserve, Ibo Forest, and Banyang-Mbo Forest (Cameroon) which has been proposed for elevated protection status. Surveys of the status and distribution across its range are needed. None of the montane forest areas of the Cameroon highlands, the most important remaining habitat for this species of which Tofala is now part, are formally protected. There is therefore need for a strong conservation action to protect these species.

By Asoh Bedwin


Photo Courtesy J.S. Gartlan (taken at Korup National Park, Cameroon)

08 September 2013

Volunteer supports education for 6 kids in Bechati Village

Posted in News, Views 1515

Kids benefitting from Ms. Hartmann's largesse pose with parents

Three primary and three kindergarten kids from the Bechati village, Lebialem Division of SW Region have been given tuition fee by Josephine Hartmann for the 2013/2014 academic year. The Australian based volunteer Josephine Hartmann visited Cameroon and the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary to volunteer for the conservation of the Cross River gorilla through the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in July 2012. To better understand the threats and population of the Cross River gorilla in this area, she monitored and tracked these apes in the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary for 15 days. She worked with two of ERuDeF's field guides Solomon from Besali and Jacob from Bechati and one of ERuDeF's staff. After spending 15 days in the forest monitoring great apes, Ms Hartmann was impressed with the work ERuDeF and the forest guides were doing in the conservation of the endemic, rare and critically endangered Cross River gorilla. Being a teacher by profession, she quickly noticed the fundamental problem of two forest adjacent communities (Bechati and Besali) which she visited, being lack of education. According to Ms. Hartmann, problems such as high birth/dead rates, poverty, hunting and a host of others stemmed from the fact that most of the inhabitants are not educated. Conscious of the fact that education is a major tool in the conservation of the Cross River gorilla and that lifestyles/impressions are changed by educating young people, she decided to invest in the education of the these kids. She intends to do more as soon as she has the finances. She has equally urged her friends and other global citizens to show their love for conservation by supporting the education of kids in these forest adjacent communities so that they can become the next generation of conservation leaders.

By Asoh Bedwin

07 September 2013

Arcus Foundation supporting ERuDeF/Cross River Gorilla Conservation in Cameroon

Posted in News, Views 1760

The arrival of Ms Helga, the Program Officer of Arcus Foundation to ERuDeF's head office in Buea, in June 2010, raised the profile of ERuDeF potential of being funded by the Arcus Foundation. In a month later, Arcus Foundation announced a US$95000 grant to ERuDeF for 2 years in support of the conservation of the Cross River gorillas in the Lebialem Highlands of South West Cameroon. The grant was to contribute to the creation of a community managed wildlife sanctuary from the then Bechati-Fossimondi-Besali forest ( later renamed Bechati-Lebialem forest), build the local community capacity in wildlife management, support community livelihoods and improve the biological monitoring of the Cross River gorillas and other endangered wildlife.

Three years down the lane, funding from Arcus Foundation alongside support from other partners have helped advanced conservation in a previously and hitherto unknown communal forest to a now internationally known conservation complex. The assessment of the Arcus Foundation and other partners funding has been spectacular as it has led to significant achievements in the conservation landscape and notably;

The Bechati-Lebialem forest has moved from a communal forest to a government reservation with the signing of the Public Notice by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife (now known as the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary) in 2011 pending the final signing of a Decree by the Prime Minister of Cameroon officially creating the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. The pending Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in the Lebialem highlands, will be the first ever protected area in this Division and a major move by the government of Cameroon and ERuDeF conservation partners to support conservation in this previously forgotten biodiversity rich hotspot in SW Cameroon. Divisional Classification meeting




stakeholders pose after Divisional Commission meeting


The creation of the Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex in 2011 came at the heels of mapping out of two other blocks namely the Mak-Betchou forest and Tofala-Mone forest recording other sub-populations of the Cross River gorillas and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees. These new additions increased the gorilla population in the Lebialem highlands from 40 to over 60 individuals in the wild.


Conservation map of Lebialem real

Conservation map of Lebalem


Upgrading of the data base of the Cross River gorillas in the landscape as its ecology and status increasingly became clearer with more regular monthly bio-monitoring expeditions and available biological information that continually informed government action.



ERuDeF's a biological staff and eco-guards in the forest


A community foundation known as the Forest Protection Fund was created to support community conservation and local economic development in the conservation landscape. With support from Arcus Foundation, the final model was developed. Communities' socio-economic status and quality of lives increased as funding went to support such income generating projects as livestock and beekeeping. Soil health improvement and improved food security made a significant progress through the Agroforestry development component. Major changes in local economic conditions came with Arcus Foundation additional support to the contruction and launching of two semi-giant palm oil processing mills located in Nkong and Besali villages each with a daily producing capacity of 1.8 tons of improved palm oil completely revolutionising the palm oil sector in the landscape hitherto a traditional and hand-managed operation. With the launching of these mills, the local incomes rose by almost 40% for a traditional palm oil based economy that previously witnessed little surpluses. installation of Essoh-Attah palm oil mill

Insatallation of an oil mill at Essoh-attah village


The profile of ERuDeF increased at all levels with ERuDeF hiring a fulltime Communication Assistant and embarking on an aggressive media campaign to increase the local, national and international support for the project.


ARC. 1

The  Green Vision Newspaper is launched!


The presence of Arcus Foundation in the landscape has been instrumental in shaping the future of conservation in the Lebialem highlands and the future of the great apes population will continue to depend on the support from Arcus Foundation and other partners. The gazettement of the Mak-Betchou forest into another wildlife sanctuary and the transformation of the Tofala-Mone forest corridor into a wildlife corridor are two other key projects that funding from Arcus Foundation and other partners will help consolidate the long term conservation status of the Cross River gorillas in this landscape. While the Tofala-Mone forest will serve as the genetic corridor linking the Tofala gorillas with those of the Mone Forest Reserve, the Mak-Betchou forest will equally serve as the genetic linkage between the Tofala great apes population with the nearby Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary. The Mak-Betchou forest additionally, also lodges the last northern most sub- population of the African forest elephants that needs to be protected. Thus, supporting a conservation landscape that stretches from the Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary through Mak-Betchou and Tofala Hill to Mone Forest Reserve will provide a long term security measure to the remaining Cross River gorilla and chimpanzee sub-populations in these forests of SW Cameroon. It is here that further long term funding from the Arcus Foundation and other partners would be imperative to saving these great apes species in the last wild places in a landscape seriously dominated and threatened by humans.

By Louis Nkembi

07 September 2013

Wildlife Predator turns wildlife Protector

Posted in News, Views 1607

Once a hunter, now an wildlife advocate

Change they say is the only constant thing in life. Who would believe that this die-heart Bechati Trapper/hunter, Jacob Adong, earning a daily income of about 12,000FCFA ($24) from wildlife sales, will ever retreat from hunting and become a wildlife conservation advocate?

The 40-year-old father of three who now works as a Field guide for the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, (ERuDeF) explains he has a long history in hunting and even though it is often said old habits die hard, he saw the need to join the conservation struggle at one point.

"I started hunting at the age of 18; going to the bush with dogs, trapping, chasing and killing animals like rat mold, squirrel, porcupines, and many others. Two years after, I realized that hunting with dogs was not really lucrative as some of the animals were either more powerful than my dogs or often went out of their reach (on trees in the forest). Thus, the next option was to learn how to hunt using guns. In my search for this, I came across a famous hunter, Pa Ngwetek Temboh (of blessed memory). He taught me how to hunt with a gun: he drew a little circle on a tree some 50 metre away, took a gun and gave me to sight and shoot into it. I did as he instructed continuously for about 5 times or so and he congratulated me saying I was ripe for the job. I took the gun home to prepare for my maiden outing" Mr. Adong narrated.

Adong Jacob explained that his first hunting venture with a gun was in December, 1993. "I set out at 7 PM when places were very dark and hid under a tree, as per the instructions of my mentor. After close to an hour, I got the sound of movement and immediately shone my touch light in that direction. The touch light got directly into the eyes of an animal and from the reaction of its eyes, I knew it was a porcupine and immediately pulled the trigger killing the animal. This first success gave me courage to hunt more and I returned home that day with three healthy animals. I then realized that hunting with the gun was more successful than with dogs. I was therefore out in the forest with hundreds of other colleagues killing animals like chuku-chuku beef (Porcupine), Flotambo (Duiker), Monkeys, Pangolin, Bush Baby (Galago senegalensis) squirrels and many others. Adong Jacob explained that he did this little knowing that some of these animals have been declared as protected species by both national and international laws until he came in contact with ERuDeF in 2004.

Mr. Adong's encounter with ERuDeF brought about a complete transformation both of mindset and attitude towards wildlife in the now proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. "In 2004, ERuDeF came into our community, organized several meetings and seminars and educated us on some protected animal species and the importance of conserving them. It was only then that I understood the legal implications of our actions and the fact that some of the animals we have been killing like Bush Baby (Galago senegalensis) , Pangolin, and monkey amongst others were protected species. I equally came to understand that Chimpanzees and Gorillas were also protected species (though I never killed any throughout my hunting career). This, coupled with the fact that I want my children to grow up and also see these animals physically, made me vow never to kill these animals again"

After some time, ERuDeF made Adong Jacob one of their field guides in the monitoring of the great apes. "I accompany ERuDeF's Partners and Volunteers to the forest; track feeding signs, nests etc of Gorillas and Chimpanzees and report to ERuDeF" he went on. The ERuDeF field guide added that his change in hunting lifestyle is posing a threat to his former colleagues, who either hide the animals or run into hiding each time they see him approaching.

Mr. Adong has now sensitized most of his former colleagues in this area on the need to conserve these animal species to an extend that many of them are willing to desist from hunting these protected wildlife species.

By Bertrand Shancho Ndimuh

05 September 2013

Volunteers express satisfaction about the African rainforest experience

Posted in News, International Volunteering Program, Views 3087

Volunteer enjoys his time in the forest

There is no better experience than taking time off the daily bustle and tussle of city life to camp in the rainforest. The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) under its International Volunteering Program has since 2008 received over 200 persons coming from different parts of the world Canada, UK, USA, Australia, Netherlands, France, South Africa and Germany; to have a firsthand experience of the Tofala and Mak/Betchou rainforests in the Lebialem Highlands, South West Cameroon. These forest areas are home to a number of endangered species, including the Cross River Gorilla, the most threatened of all of Africa's primates, Chimpanzees, Drills and various endemic bird and plant species. There is also a range of other species found in the forest like various monkey species, porcupine, cane rats, deer, bush dogs, bush cats, antelope, bush pigs, bush babies, blue duiker, elephant, and sitatunga.

Volunteers sometimes spend 2-6 weeks in the forest camping, trekking, tracking and recording information about gorillas and chimpanzees with special focus on feeding signs, number of nests (fresh and old nest), gunshot/gun shells, vocalization and many others. This experience usually leaves Volunteer wanting for more. A 28-year-old Finish Lady, Hanna-Maija Lantinen, spent 17 days in the Mak/Betchou rainforest and 21 days in the Tofala rainforest and was amazed by what she saw. "I saw elephants, heard the vocalization of chimpanzees and gorillas-fresh tracks and nests of gorillas and Chimpanzee during my stay in the forest. It was a fantastic experience and I am so happy to have lived those moments". Hanna testified. To 68 year English retired Head Teacher, John Michael Daniel, who spent two weeks in the Tofala rainforest, the experience was incredible. "We were very quiet, walking up hill, tracing the apes, stopping and recording information as the needs arise. Then the exciting moment; we saw monkeys, got very close to chimpanzees and actually saw them shaking the branches responding to our presence. There was one occasion when we actually got footsteps in the forest and thought it was a person. We went to find out what was happening but could only see fresh banana peelings indicating that the foot steps were those of a gorilla. This was really exciting" John Revealed.

An American couple Mr/Mrs Howell Barret, after spending two weeks in the Tofala rainforest bathing in the forest waterfall could not hide their feelings; "water fall in the forest was awesome; we took our bath in the water fall, used it to clean our dresses It was particularly interesting for us to use our hand to wash dresses and dry them on the camp drying line in the forest". Nontie A. Kabanyane from South Africa is one of those who visited the Tofala Rain Forest in the rainy season. She too had the same experience like the others but what particularly thrilled her was the wet and slippery nature of the rainforest. She was very happy to have learned about the different animals, fruits and trees in the forest. She was strangely happy eating the varieties of wild fruits in the forests. The experience has been the same for all the volunteers.

How to be Part of the Rainforest Experience

An application is sent directly to ERuDeF or to partner organizations like African Impact and African Conservation Foundation including your motivation and detailed information (Nationality, sex, age upon date of arrival, arrival and departure dates and time, contacts and other necessary information. An invitation letter is sent in response to this accompanied by the volunteering cost. Upon arrival, the volunteer is picked up at the airport and lodged in a Hotel in Buea for at least two days prior to departure to the field. An orientation meeting is always held for the day prior to departure to the field. During this orientation every departmental head at ERuDeF presents the functions of his/her department. The main activities on the field include: Great Apes bio-monitoring in the forest and Conservation Education in the forest adjacent communities. On their return from the field, a restitution meeting is organized with the Volunteer at the ERuDeF headquarters in Buea. The program ends with a visit at the Limbe Wildlife Centre and a sea fish lunch at the beach.

No specific required experience is needed, just a keen interest in wildlife and conservation is important. Volunteers between the ages of 20 and 70, must be very fit and prepared to trek through harsh environments with extreme temperatures.

Apart from the rainforest experience, volunteers conduct conservation education in the local schools and communities. Here Children are taught the ecology of apes, their importance, habitat needs and the importance of conserving them. Contests for the children are also organised and prizes awarded.

By Ndimuh Bertand Shancho

05 September 2013

Tofala-Mone Forest Corridor in Peril

Posted in News, Views 1426

Tofala Forest Corridor in danger

A Timber exploitation Company, the Cameroon Agricultural and Forestry Exploitation Company (CAFECO) would in the days ahead begin timber exploitation in the Tofala-Mone forest corridor. The coming of this company would put the lives of some globally protected species living in the adjacent Tofala forest in total danger from loss of habitat.

The Tofala-Mone forest corridor is one of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF)'s conservation sites in the Lebialm-Mone forest complex.

This forest block connects the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mone Wildlife reserve. It harbours the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), Mandrills (Mandrillus leucophaese), African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and other threatened birds, plants and animal species. The coming of the Cameroon Agricultural and Forestry Exploitation Company (CAFECO) means that this forest block is at risk. CAFECO is a timber exploitation company whose headquarter is in Ossing, Manyu Division, Southwest Cameroon.

The logging activity would distort some ecological processes such as, migration and interbreeding of the sub population of Cross River Gorilla in the Tofala and Mone forest area, thus reducing the population viability of these animal species with just about 300 of them left in the wild.

Also, the logging activity coupled with easy accessibility into the Tofala-Mone forest area due to the constructed Bamenda-Mamfe Highway will further increase the rate of poaching of wildlife and unsustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products. Thus, if action is not taken now, then the world might just be bidding farewell to the great ape population and other threatened plants and animal species in this forest area.

It is for this reason that ERuDeF is calling on its international partners, the Cameroon government and the entire conservation family to take action in order to save the last great apes and other plants and animal species in this forest block.

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi

05 September 2013

ERuDeF trains a dozen farmers on bee hunting in Folepi Village

Posted in News, Views 1429

Bee farmers receive training

Balancing Conservation and Development


The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has trained twelve inhabitants of Folepi Village in the Lebialem Highlands in bee hunting. This was during a capacity building workshop that took place in the village on August 18, 2013. The workshop follows the donation of 30 piglets and 35 beehives to the population last July 28, 2013. The aim of the training workshop was therefore to ensure that the population has the right capacity to manage these livelihoods support initiatives.

The workshop saw the participation of 12 members from three Common Initiative Groups in charge of bee farming in the village notably, the AFALA Bee farmers CIG, AFAF bee farmers CIG, and Natural farmers CIG Folepi. During the workshop, the Researcher and Trainer, Dominique Folefac told the people that Folepi village in particular and the Tofala forest area in general has the highest potential for bee farming. This is because the basic raw materials including many all-year-round flowering plants, rocks, fruit trees, etc as well as the bees are largely available. The Bee Farmer and Researcher, Dominique Folefac revealed to the population that if taken seriously, bee keeping could be the main source of income for the population as the potential of the 35 bee hives donated to Folepi is estimated at some 3,150 liters of honey per year. To demonstrate the importance of bee faming in the area, Chief Njong, representing one of the CIGs noted that " Bee farming has been helping me pay the school fees of my two children since 2010" Apart from management skills gained, the farmers were also introduced to the use of local materials for the production of bee hives. With this progress, ERuDeF has stamped its mark for a joint conservation and development initiative in the Lebialem highlands. Bee farming if properly developed, could lead to sustainable management of natural resources in the village. The Fon of Folepi lauded the idea of a training workshop. He thanked the NGO, ERuDeF for the initiative and hoped for brighter days.

Just to note that this training is a follow up of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and the population of Folepi. The aim of this MoU is to dissuade the people of Folepi from invading the forest in the form of hunting and conversion of forest into farmlands; The Folepi Village forms a significant portion of the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to several globally protected species including the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla, Nigeria Cameroon Chimp and a host of other endemic and endangered flora and fauna.

By Forbe Hodu

05 September 2013

Farmer uses agroforestry to make the difference

Posted in News, Views 1313

Njeukeng Phillipe taking care of his trees

Profile of the month


Since the US Charity, Trees for the Future through its Cameroon Program, introduced agroforestry in Cameroon, farmers have increasingly adopted different strategies of diversifying the products gotten from their farm. Initially, the primary aim of intercropping trees and plants was to improve on the quality of the soil and yields. Interestingly enough, these days, farmers have moved from just using agroforestry technology to improve on their yield to diversifying the trees. One of such farmers is Njuekeng Phillipe of Bafou, a village in Menoua Division of the West Region.

Since he adopted agroforestry technology, he has planted over 20000 trees of Acacia and Leucaena for soil fertility improvement and live fencing. He exploited these trees for multipurpose uses; soil health improvement, pegs for beans and as fuel wood.

In 2013, his ideas shifted to developing a woodlot for economic benefit thereby improving on his livelihood. He intends to cover a 3-hectare land on a hill called Kemzok in Bafou with tree species like Prunus, avocado, and concentrate more on Acacia and Leucaena species. According to this Farmer, these 2 agroforestry species are fast growing and would make better fuel wood. He said it is a waste to continue to leave this hill without exploitation when there are trees to reforest the area and at the same time make a lot of money.

Mr. Njeukeng is starting this year with 4000 trees of Acacia and Leucaena. He would start benefitting from the wood after 2 years of initiation. Following his investigation, fuel wood and charcoal have become very expensive and scarce. When these trees become mature, he is going to sell wood worth over 200.000 frs ($400) a year. He also mentions, that wood of Acacia and Leucaena gives a very good flame with less smoke thereby fighting the effect of global warming. Sales of the wood is going to increase years after years since planting is going to continue as the area will be expanded. It is obvious that this man's live will change thereby affecting the live of his entire family for the better future. Being the agroforestry technician in Menoua Division, he intends to share his experience with many other famers and improving on their lives too.

By Payong Tionou Marquise

06 August 2013

Lebialem Senator pledges to put environmental protection top on the agenda

Posted in News, Views 2170

Senator Fontem Njifua

The Lebialem Senator Fon Fontem Njifua Lucas has promised to make environmental management of the richly endowed Lebialem top of his priority as he takes up duty at the Senate. Senator Fontem was speaking on July 6 , 2013 in Menji, the Chief town of Lebialem Division following a ceremony to welcome him home as Senator. According to this Leader, Fontem remains one of the richest Biodiversity hotspots in the Country with the presence of globally protected species like the Cross River Gorillas, Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees and Forest African Elephant « For the first time, I am going to hold a tete a tete meeting with the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife so that together we can seek ways to protect these animals ». Senator Njifua also said that given that Lebialem is an area whose topography is prone to landslides, he is going to use his position as a Law maker to influence many more tree planting projects in Lebialem in order to prevent erosion. He equally promised to bring all the spotted hunters in all of Lebialem Division to ask them to drop down their weapons or face the wrath of the law. He acknowledged that the biggest problem is that most of the poachers lack education, « we would do our best to tell them the importance of these animals that the State is asking them not to kill because most of those who hunt do so due to lack of education. This is our heritage and we must protect them! These animals if well protected will fetch us revenue in the form of tourism »

Questioned about the stand of the Senate as far as biodiversity conservation, Senator Fontem Njifua said the Senate is a new House and they are moving progressively. « A bill concerning that has not yet come up. When the bill comes up, we will look at the content of the bill and give our opinion because the environmental condition is very important and we will take that into serious consideration »

According to his Alternate, Nso Nicolas, "Lebialem has an environment where the ecosystem is collapsing. The sustainable management of the environment is completely part of our agenda and particularly me who comes from Wabane Sub-division, an area prone to landslides and other environmental hazards". "Geographically, Lebialem is located on the toe slopes of the Bamboutos. This means we are vulnerable to erosions and landslides so we would do our best to forward these problems to the government" Senator Nso went on.

Elites present at the ceremony had their own story to tell as far as the management and protection of the environment is concerned. According to a native of Magha- Wabane Sub Division Akewe Donaltus « our leaders have not given enough attention to our fragile environment. In Magha, where I live, we face the problem of landslides every now and then. Unfortunately, those representing us in parliament have not been able to bring projects that can solve this problem » Mr. Akewe regretted that since the 2003 landslides that claimed 23 lives, little has been done either to compensate the victims or to restore the degraded landscapes. « I hope that our new Senator will be able to make the difference » Mr. Akewe added. Another Elite from Mbindia Village who chose to be anonymous said Fontem is blessed with rich touristic potential in fauna and flora. He said these potentials if well harnessed could bring back revenue in the form of tourism. He urged the newly elected Senators to make the protection of the environment a priority.

By Regina Fonjia Leke

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