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07 October 2013

Statistics reveal increase in population of Chimpanzee & Elephants in Mak-Betchou Forest

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Statistics reveal increase in population of Chimpanzee & Elephants in Mak-Betchou Forest

There has been an interesting development in the population of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpazees and elephants in the Mak-Betchou forest, Lebialem Highlands of the SW Region of Cameroon. This information was uncovered by a survey carried out on chimpanzees, gorillas and elephants in Mak-Betchou and Tofala rainforests between June and July, 2013 indicated. The study, conducted by a student from Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, France, Léo Pierre and a team of Biologists from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) indicates that the Mak-Betchou forest contains a large and increasing population of the Cameroon-Nigeria chimpanzee, the African elephant, drills and possibly the Cross River gorilla.

After spending close to two months tracking and collecting GPS coordinates of animal species in the Tofala and Mak-betchou forest blocks, the team of Researchers reported 133 chimpanzee signs in Mak-betchou including 106 tree nests and 1 resting nest, 12 tracks, 1 play ground site and 13 vocalization occurrences. In Tofala, they reported 112 chimpanzee signs with a total of 54 tree nests and 11 resting nests, 18 tracks, 4 play ground sites, 23 feeding signs, 2 foot prints and 2 vocalizations.

"With an encounter rate of 3.69 signs of chimps per kilometres, relatively higher than most forest blocks studied in Cameroon, the chimpanzee population seems very elevate in Mak-Betchou" Leo Pierre said. "This forest appears like a hotspot for the Cameroon-Nigeria chimpanzee and have to be protected as soon as possible" the team of researchers recommended.

Léo Pierre and ERuDeF Biologists also reported having seen 3 individual elephants in Mak-betchou recording 45 other signs like dung, feeding sites, foot prints, tracks, and rest site with a total encounter rate of 1.333 elephant's signs per kilometres. According to this team, the African elephant seem to prefer the flat topography in the valley which runs between 400m and 500m of altitude and with many rivers with a co-habitation with chimps possible only between 400m and 600m altitude. Léo in his report, said given that the average encounter rate of ten protected areas in Cameroon is 0.277, with only the Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary having an encounter rate of up to 1.45, "the population of elephant in the Mak-Betchou forest is highly significant"

"For gorillas, 58 signs were recorded in the Tofala forest block including 5 tree nests, 5 ground nest, 1 track, 1 dung, 45 feeding sign and 1 foot print with an encounter rate of 3,412 signs of gorilla per kilometer. Meanwhile two clues were recorded in Mak- Betchou with our field guide affirming that he had made two direct observations of gorilla in this forest" the student researcher from France reported.

During the close to two months research period, the team of researchers said they came across some new signs of other animal species including 6 foot prints, 5 feeding signs and 2 tracks of bush pig; one vocalization sign of a monkey and a foot print, feeding sign and dung for duiker in the Mak-betchou forest while18 monkey signs were recorded with 6 feeding signs, 8 vocalizations of Mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona), 3 vocalizations of Preuss‟s monkey and 1 direct observation of Preuss‟s monkey were recorded in the Tofala rainforest with two foot prints of duiker and 2 dung piles of Hyrax also recorded.

Human Threats

The survey indicates that 12 hunting tracks, 10 gun shells, 6 gun shots and 4 hunter's seats were recorded during in the Mak-betchou rainforest while 9 new farms, 2 hunting tracks, 5 gun shells, 2 hunting huts, 3 traps, 1 feeding sign and 2 hunter's seats were recorded in Tofala.

These statistics according to the team of researchers indicate that hunting is the predominant aspect of human pressure in the Mak- Betchou rainforest while forest conversion to farmland is predominant in Tofala.


By Bertrand Shancho Ndimuh