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08 April 2014

Fons Sensitized on Creation of Proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary

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Fons, MINFOF Rep. and ERuDeF Staff  pose after sensitisation meeting

Fons of villages surrounding the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary have been sensitized on the need to protect the Mak-Betchou forest. The sensitization took place from February 8-13, 2014 when a team made up of the Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife for Lebialem, Mboui Jacques, Chief of Wildlife for Lebialem, Njimin Thomas Amin, Chief of Forestry Post Fontem, Ngnitchiba Gah Edrissou and Protected Area Development Officer for the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Enokenwa Allen Tabi paid an official visit to the Essoh-Attah, Njoa'gwi and Lebang Fondoms.

Chairing the sensitization meeting, the Divisional Delegate for Forestry and Wildlife Mboui Jacques explained the ecological importance of the proposed sanctuary to the Traditional authorities. He said that the forest area harbors globally threatened species of wildlife such as, Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta africana), Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus), just to name these. Mr. Mboui Jacques also explained to the rulers the benefits that could accrue if the area is gazetted, including the touristic attraction of the place and some alternative livelihoods that they could be provided with.

It is to be recalled that due to increased human activities through forest clearance, illegal hunting of threatened species and others the local authorities of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife with the technical support of ERuDeF resolve to protect the Mak-Betchou forest which would act as a safe refuge for these globally threatened species.

After explanations from the team on the benefits that will arise if the area is protected, the different Fons expressed their willingness to support the project.

According to the Fon of Essoh-Attah, the project was even belated. 'We have a very rich forest in terms of wildlife and I welcome the initiative of this move.If you ask me, I will say it is even coming late, but better late than never' The Ruler said.

Given that most of the local people depend on farming and hunting, the Fon of Njoa'gwi on his part was interested in the benefits that he and his subjects will have if the area is protected. After receiving response from the team that alternatives to livelihood will be provided by government and partners, he was satisfied with the protection of the Mak-Betchou forest.

The Fon of Lebang village who was absent due to other duties delegated notables Ngu Francis and Kematem Michael of his Fondom to receive the sensitization team. On their part, they expressed worries on farmlands that are already found in the proposed protected area. However they were very pleased with the idea and Mr. NGU Francis shared his experience from other protected areas in Cameroon and the USA that he visited. They promised to give feedback to the Fon on what was discussed.

The Mak-Betchou forest is located in the Lebialem Division South West Region. The forest area was named from two river sources, "Mak" and "Betchou" that flow through it.

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi