Statement on the situation of wildlife in the Congo Basin (and in Cameroon in particular) - Resolving Conservation Conflicts in West/Central African Protected Areas

This is a summary of the discussions held during the 2019 October workshop, “Resolving Conservation Conflicts in West/Central African Protected Areas” in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Wildlife populations are collapsing inside and outside protected areas throughout Western Equatorial Africa. In Cameroon, there has been a significant decline in large mammal populations in savannah and forest habitats. Top predators are disappearing even from national parks, which are supposed to receive the highest levels of protection. Some years ago, Cameroon lost its last cheetahs and likely its last African wild dogs.

 

The future of other large carnivores is hanging in the balance, and Cameroon could soon see the lion go extinct, a symbol of strength and power, and the symbol of sports teams in Cameroon, including the national soccer team.  Forest primates, our closest relatives in the animal world, also face a looming risk, with over 50% of primate species threatened with extinction. Populations of Cross River gorillas, drills and Preuss’s red colobus monkeys, some of Africa’s most endangered primate species that are found primarily in Cameroon, have declined significantly over the last decade. African forest elephants have undergone dramatic declines of up to 90%, and some populations are locally extinct. These declines are not limited to large mammals but have also been reported for several bird species.

 

We are a group of scientists, including faculty members from respected universities in Cameroon and abroad, representatives of protected areas management units, law enforcement organisations, and international organisations. In October 2019, we met in Yaoundé to assess the current status of conservation in the country and discuss innovative, sustainable, and community-based ways forward to solve what we consider to be a conservation crisis. Based on our combined experience, which encompasses both the social and the ecological sciences, and the data presented at this workshop and in the literature, it is clear that, in many ways, conservation in Cameroon is failing. But many opportunities exist for a more positive future.

 

Some of the threats to nature and wildlife in Cameroon include poaching of protected species and unsustainable hunting, illegal wildlife trade, and the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat. Increased bushmeat hunting to meet rampant demands of a growing urban population has become unsustainable and is currently a major force driving the decline of a large number of species, most notably arboreal primates and duiker antelopes. The illegal trade of wildlife as pets or for body parts (including ivory and pangolin scales) also directly threaten populations. Mining, dam construction, unsustainable logging, and the expansion of large-scale agriculture such as oil palm plantations are reducing the extent of wildlife habitat, converting them into isolated fragments. All these different threats act synergistically, aggravating wildlife population declines and disrupting the free ecological services that these natural areas provide to millions of people.

 

These threats are affecting the local people as well as all the areas where we work in Cameroon. From our research, experience, and observations, it is difficult to believe that there is currently even a single area of forest, including protected areas, that is untouched by poaching with cable snares or guns, or other forms of habitat degradation. This does not only imperil ecological integrity but is also a threat to the wellbeing of Cameroonians through the disruption and loss of environmental services. Conservation is not a luxury. Wildlife and nature play an essential role in the livelihoods, cultures, and religions of the Cameroonian people living in rural areas. The current conservation crisis could lead to a food security crisis among vulnerable communities, including indigenous people. Local cultures and religions have formed complex relations with nature and wildlife. Thus, the loss of the Cameroonian natural heritage would in turn severely affect its rich cultural heritage. The country is also losing an important potential source of foreign income through ecotourism.

 

We conclude that the current crisis will not be solved unless there is political will and investment at multiple levels: legal, financial, educational, and social. We call for an increased commitment to developing a national legal framework based on scientific evidence, revising outdated laws, and speeding up legal processes for reviewing laws and legal procedures for conservation, and to change the current paradigm of conservation as a whole. For example, protected species catalogues must be updated to be in line with current scientific evidence.  Science must also inform the design of conservation projects, decisions, and actions. We propose that the social, economic, and ecological outputs and impacts of conservation initiatives must be rigorously monitored and evaluated by an external body, and standardised monitoring and evaluation protocols must be developed and implemented within an adaptive management cycle. Such monitoring and scientific evidence could help using the limited resources available for conservation more wisely, but we also need strong prioritisation of the available resources to prevent critically endangered species from extinction.

 

Equally important will be to professionalise, diversify, and support protected area management. Protected areas are one of the cornerstones for conservation but currently suffer from inadequate infrastructure and equipment, unmotivated personnel and poor management, as well as a general lack of support from surrounding human populations who have been previously excluded from conservation processes. For this, all protected areas must have ratified management plans that are achievable. Local communities must be consulted and involved not only in developing such plans but also in their implementation. Currently, most managers find themselves trying to solve problems at the programmatic level, rather than focusing on small level changes suggested by local community members and supported by interested organisations. Management plans can be developed considering the site-specific characteristics rather than trying to follow globally implemented models. Consequently, novel methods and approaches to management must be explored and tested out. Management can become adaptive by including regular and independent monitoring to inform and adjust management actions.

 

This will not only help improve the success of protected area management and resource management but will also ensure its accountability and transparency. It is important to add that protected area management must be led by people with the required technical proficiency paired with government staff. This should also include innovative approaches to protected area management including delegated management models under public-private partnerships. There is already good in-country expertise that can be used. However, we believe that training in conservation science must continue being supported and improved. We call for curricula development of conservation science at the local academic institutions, with the inclusion of field courses and fostering interdisciplinary training for diverse students. Finally, we recommend the establishment of a Wildlife Research Institute to support this and all the above-proposed measures to improve conservation in Cameroon. Such an institution could become a hub of research, education, management and policy-development for conservation and be the seat of an independent body in charge of monitoring conservation initiatives in the country.

We urge the government and other relevant stakeholders to draw attention to this crisis and encourage them to jointly develop and commit to practical solutions that can help the nature and the people of Cameroon.

For more Information, please, download the Document here below:

Go back

Partners News

Legality in Europe and China: Last actions to the support of the application of the EUTR and the pursuit of the collaboration between ATIBT / GGSC / CTWPDA

Here are some key elements on the update of the EUTR (European Timber Regulation) through the action of the European Union and EU member States to ensure its proper application, as well as an overview of the new Chinese forest law.

In Interim UN75 Report, One Million Respondents Unified on Natural Environment, Diversity and Inequalities – IISD

The Office on the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary issued an update on the results of a global consultation on people’s fears and hopes for the future, on which respondents are “remarkably unified” across the world. Since January 2020, over one million respondents have participated, covering all UN Member States and Observer States.

Germany wants to make the DRC the first country to supply hydrogen to the European Union (Minister of State Guillaume Manjolo) – Politico

Guillaume Manjolo recalled that Germany already supported the DRC in the years 1972 and 1982, in the construction of the Inga 1 site. Germany is coming back this time with an important dimension of strategy for the development of the energy sector in the DRC.

Marie Thérèse Chantal Mfoula is the new commissioner in charge of Spatial Planning and Infrastructure at the Economic Commission for Central African States!

At the invitation of His Excellency Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, President of the Gabonese Republic, current President of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the XVllth Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government was held on 30 July, 2020 by videoconference

Final Communiqué of the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission of 20 August 2020 by Videoconference.

At the invitation of Mr. Jules Doret NDONGO, Cameroon Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, current President of the Council of Ministers in charge of Forestry and/or Environment of COMIFAC member countries was held on 20 August 2020 by videoconference.

What the CBD's latest Global Biodiversity Outlook is telling us about the state of the planet

This week saw the launch of the 5th edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5), the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It is a periodic report that summarises the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity and draws conclusions relevant to the further implementation of the Convention.

Effective management of transboundary protected areas - BIOPAMA

The experience of the BSB Yamoussa Binational Complex with the use of the Integrated Management Effectiveness tool. An integrated vision of the BSB Yamoussa Binational Complex, consisting of the parks of Bouba Ndjidda, in Cameroon, and Sena Oura, in Chad, fol-lowed by a critical analysis of the state of the sites, allowed effi   nition of tai-lor-made interventions.

EU and UK launch consultations on policies to reduce deforestation in supply chains – Fern

Following its  Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests in 2019, the European Commission has finally opened a questionnaire-based consultation on policies needed to reduce deforestation and forest degradation associated with EU consumption of forest-risk commodities.

2nd 2020 IFED ONLINE TRAINING - MFE 212 : REDD++ - Payments for Environmental Services (PES)

This online course organized by IFED in partnership with Queen's University of Canada will be delivered by high level lecturers. Professionals with positive experiences on REDD++ management and PES will also share their experiences you learners. Please also see hereafter the poster which summarizes the articulations of this training that scheduled from 05 to 09 October 2020.

Forests and Finance - The banks and investors exposed to deforestation risks in Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa and in Brazil.

Top 10 Lenders & Underwriters (2016-2020 April): See the 10 banks and investors with the highest financial exposure in loans and underwriting to forest-risk sector companies in Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa and Brazil. These findings are based on research carried out by forestsandfinance.org using this methodology to identify corporate loans, credit and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies.

Global and African Leaders Welcome Launch of GCA Africa as “Historic Moment to Accelerate Adaptation” on the Continent – AFDB

The Global Center on Adaptation today announced the launch of its regional office in Côte d’Ivoire. Hosted by the African Development Bank at its headquarters in the Ivorian capital Abidjan, GCA Africa will work with partners across the continent to scale and accelerate adaptation action that protects African communities from the impacts of climate change.

RFUK: PRESS RELEASE: UN plan to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030 could displace hundreds of millions, NGOs and experts warn

One hundred twenty-eight environmental and human rights NGOs and experts today warn that a United Nations drive to increase global protected areas such as national parks could lead to severe human rights violations and cause irreversible social harm for some of the world’s poorest people.

Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy – Nature

Increased efforts are required to prevent further losses to terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it provides1,2. Ambitious targets have been proposed, such as reversing the declining trends in biodiversity3; however, just feeding the growing human population will make this a challenge4.

Using Integrated Landscape Management to scale Agroforestry: Examples from Ecuador – Ecoagriculture

Already in the late 1970s, EcoAgriculture Partners´ Sara Scherr and Louise Buck experienced the promise that agroforestry holds: improving livelihood security for smallholders, especially women and children. As they were working with the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry’ (ICRAF) in Kenya, they were studying and promoting agroforestry as an approach to farming that integrates production and conservation functions.

ATIBT News du 04/09/2020

To read: WFC 2021 in Seoul : Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forests; Gabon : Inauguration of the new Precious Woods CEB factory by Minister Lee White; Important update - Study Overview of the private sector in the Republic of Congo…

UNGA goes virtual — register now for Uniting Business LIVE

There is less than a month to go before the UN General Assembly High-Level week which will, for the first time in history, be largely online. The UN Global Compact is inviting our entire network to attend Uniting Business LIVE, an online gathering of global business and sustainability leaders on the sidelines of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly from 21–23 September.

ATIBT News 28/08/2020

To read : Implementation of FLEGT REDD CERTIFICATION project activities in the DRC; Continuation of TRACER-DR project Communication in Gabon with FRMI and BRAINFOREST; ATIBT publishes its study on the impact of COVID-19 on the forest sector in the Republic of Congo…

Artisanal Shark Trade in the Republic of the Congo – Traffic

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 17th August 2020—Congolese artisanal fishers are increasingly turning to shark fishing because of increased scarcity of other stocks overfished by industrial fisheries: urgent legislative and management improvements are needed to prevent a collapse of shark fishing and protect local livelihoods finds a new TRAFFIC report.