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26 September 2016

Securing the Survival of Critically Endangered Wildlife Species in the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary, South West Cameroon .

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Cameroon is ranked 5th in terms of biodiversity in Africa and second only after the Democratic Republic of Congo in primates’ diversity (Mc Neely, 1988). In addition, several species of endangered primates are still relatively well represented in Cameroon’s forests; they include Drills, the Mandrills, Colobus and particularly the gorillas and the chimpanzees. Though well represented, these species have been declining significantly as a result of anthropogenic threats, since most of them are found outside of the protected areas.

In spite of significant conservation and protection measures taken, many species including the gorillas and the chimpanzees, remain strongly threatened by the combined effects of several factors such as; poaching, traffic in young animals, deforestation, logging, mining, fragmentation of habitats, bush fires, inadequate enforcement of the forestry law, poverty among others. This is further increased by the fact that these species remain outside of the protected areas where there’s no proper wildlife management. Knowledge about the present condition and status of these species remain inadequate. Biological and socio-economic surveys remain insufficient. Poverty also is in high rate due to the lack of alternative income generating activities; as such the local communities depend largely on natural resources for their survival.

In order to minimize the consequences of these factors and ensure a better protection of Great Apes, other primates and their natural habitats, the creation and proper management of protected areas is very much important. It is based on this that ERuDeF is seeking financial support for the creation and management of the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary in the Lebialem Highlands of SW Cameroon is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in Cameroon. This area is home to critically endangered Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, African forest elephants, Drill and other endangered avian, plants and amphibians species of global importance. Therefore the creation of this site as a protected area will ensure the long term survival of these species. This will enable proper protection and conservation of the area.

At the end of the implementation of the project, the proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary will finally have the status of a protected area, known as the Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary. Hence, the endangered and critically endangered species will be protected, and thus securing their survival.

                    This project therefore seeks to;

· create and sustainably manage the Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary,

· developed the management and business plans for Make-Betchou,

· conduct biological and socio-economic surveys,

· support the development of economic opportunities and the introduction of cottage industries.

To implement this project, over US$1,000, 000 will be required for the next 3 years. US$ 100,000 will sponsored to develop the management and business plans for the proposed Make-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary. US$ 70,000 will be used to conduct biological and socio-economic surveys in the area and its periphery. US$ 150, 000 will be used to support the development of economic activities and the introduction of cottage industries. Finally US$ 130,000 will be used for the payments of resource persons and the salaries of all staffs directly engaged into the project.

It is important to note that ERuDeF has received US$ 550,000 from the Rainforest Trust to support the creation of the proposed Mak-Betchou area.

ERuDeF runs several programs which includes but not limited to Great Apes conservation, Agro-forestry, forestry just to mentioned a few. The Great Apes component is focused on saving the last species of gorillas and chimpanzees across the Lebialem Highlands, in Upper Banyang and Nkingkwa Hills. The work on great apes also extends into the NW, East and South regions of Cameroon to focus on the remaining populations of gorillas and chimpanzees in those regions. Our work on great apes, in the country has led to the creation of the Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex and the Lebialem-Mone Forest Landscape. Currently, ERuDeF has assisted the government of Cameroon to create the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides, ERuDeF is also assisting the government to protect the apes in the proposed Mak-Betchou forest, Nkingkwa Hills and Tofala-Mone Forest Corridor. ERuDeF also assisted the government of Cameroon in the development and validation of the management plan for the Deng Deng National Park in the East Region of Cameroon.

Therefore, this project that will span for three years will be carried out by a team of experts from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) with long years of experience in protected area creation, management and conservation.

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