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16 May 2013

Lebialem Senior Divisional Officer supports Tofala Sanctuary creation process

Posted in News, Views 1475

Picture: SDO poses with team after sensitisation meeting

The Senior Divisional Officer for Lebialem Division alongside some top government officials recently visited some villages in the Wabane Sub-division, Lebialem Division SW Cameroon to educate the people on the need for the creation of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Mr. Kuemo Simon alongside other officials of the Ministry of Forestry, on April 5, 2014, visited three villages including Folepi, Bangang and Bamumbu. These villages form a significant portion of the Proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.

Speaking during a sensitization meeting in Folepi, Mr. Kuemo Simon explained that carving out a protected area was not a punishment, but a way of preserving a Nation's rich heritage for posterity. He had the indigenes of Folepi understand that, the Cross River Gorilla is critically endangered and if not conserved, might go extinct. He therefore urged the natives to commit themselves fully for the realization of the Wildlife Sanctuary.

This proposed Sanctuary is home to about 40 critically endangered Cross River Gorillas, 150 endangered Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees and a host of other endemic fauna and flora. In a bid to save the last great apes, the Cameroonian conservation organization, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), working with the Cameroon government initiated a legal process in 2010 towards making this site a full protected area. It was in line with this that the Senior Divisional Officer for Lebialem went to three villages to call on the natives to throw support for the project.

The villagers in turn pledged full commitment to support the process but called on ERuDeF and the supporters to provide them with alternative sources of livelihoods to replace farmlands which would constitute part of the Sanctuary.

It would be recalled that, according to the Cameroon 1994 forestry law, community participation in the creation of protected areas and the sustainable management of forestry and wildlife resources for local development is vital. This explains why ERuDeF and its partners went to sensitize natives of these villages, which form a portion of the proposed site, on the importance of conservation of wildlife.

This is the fourth stage of the process of creating a Sanctuary. According to the laws of the land, the creation of protected areas involves six legal steps. These include the production of a technical note, publication of a public notice, sensitization of administrative authorities and local elites, village to village sensitizations, divisional classification and compilation of documents by Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife for onward transmission via Ministry of Forestry headquarter to the Prime Minister Office for final gazzetement of the area. The first three steps were completed in 2012 and 8 out of 11 villages adjacent to the proposed protected area were sensitized.

By Allen Enokenwa Tabi